Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Cohen, Founder & CEO, aRMadillo® Group

aRMadillo®: A Leading Compliance Solution Provider Since 1997

In 2020 $12bn was handed out in fines by regulators, making a total of $48bn for failures in on-boarding of clients for the prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. This has led to an uptick in identity and data validation; and businesses now need a reliable way to confirm data and document verification more than ever.

The aRMadillo® Group is a Regtech and compliance business specializing in verification data and documents for on-boarding and constant client monitoring. It covers and protects regulated businesses for Know Your Customer (KYC), Due Diligence and Enhanced Due Diligence. It helps stop financial crime and money laundering, and information supplied helps companies prepare and pass regulator inspections which are getting tougher these days.

In an interview with Insights Success, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Cohen, Founder & CEO of aRMadillo® Group shares the necessity of document identification and how the company is disrupting the regulatory landscape by delivering cuttingedge solutions to the ever-increasing demands of compliance within the industry.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Give us a brief overview of The aRMadillo® Group, and its journey since inception.

Our universe covers 380m companies, 5bn individuals and over 1000 corporate registries in 220 countries; giving a coverage not equalled by any of our competitors.

Armadillo was the first online corporate data and onboarding compliance information system on the web, launching in June 1997. Other firsts include the Armadillo App in 2011 and our digital multi-lingual worldwide document ordering system; launched in February 2019 amongst others.

In the early 2000’s we mainly bought, re-engineered and sold data to corporate data providers such as Onesource/ Avention (now part of Dun & Bradstreet) which introduced us to the world of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) giving us today, many years of experience in automating data delivery.

Innovation and being the first with our technology is in our DNA. Armadillo was awarded a place on the Global Regtech100 list for 2021, in the Global top 45 buyers guide and featured in several banking magazines last year and this year.

As well as Instant Online Compliance Data, Armadillo supplies Legal & Compliance advice. We understand the needs of Regulated businesses, having three different regulated firms in our group, including a UK regulated law firm that can also ensure customer confidentiality.

Please list the popular services that make your company standout from the competition.

Armadillo provides a truly global Know Your Customer (KYC), Due Diligence and Enhanced Due Diligence service all sitting and working through what we call The Armadillo Hub.

Having a UK regulated law firm in the group also means Armadillo can obtain information from offshore jurisdictions and act on behalf of both Financial and Regulated institutions as well High Net Worth Individuals, giving full client confidentiality.

Armadillo’s systems and universe include 380million companies and 5billion adult individuals globally. Giving both instant corporate reports and original registry documents, vital in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. All processes systems are ISO 9001 ISO 27001 certified and audited, so that institutions can happily also plug Armadillo into their systems; knowing we work to the highest standards.

Armadillo is becoming the ‘got to’ business for all onboarding and KYC as our services also includes global PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) checks, sanctions, adverse media and passport & ID checks.

On top of data supply and onboarding verification, what also keeps us ahead is our expertise in RPA (Robotic Process Automation). A truly high-tech way forward and much needed by the compliance industry. AI systems and block-chain security and verification also adds to the mix. The final comment about what makes us different comes from one of our long-standing clients and one of the top 4 global consultancies. “Armadillo always delivers”.

What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes Digital Transformation?

It is estimated that 15% of a regulated business’s staff are involved in compliance work. This is a huge amount of financial and time resource and as more and more industries are being brought into the mix, the cost is just rocketing as there truly are not enough people. If a business does not constantly transform as many of their compliance functions as possible into the digital space, they will lose efficiency and money as the costs just eat up the bottom line.

In your opinion, what could be the future of Digital Market Place post the COVID-19 pandemic? And how are you strategizing Armadillo’s operations for that future?

The Digital Market Place is the future in our industry, with many companies putting themselves out there for contracts and business. It’s not just Covid19 that has caused this. It was happening anyway.

Of course, being in this industry means that going forward we really do have to play our part in it. The uncertainty around Covid-19 has just raised the knowledge of it and its importance in the minds of the public.

How do you unify Corporate Compliance and Data systems with the The aRMadillo® Group’s easier, faster, and more cost-effective services?

One of our divisions is Corporate Secretarial and Administration for International businesses. We are therefore regulated and subject to inspections. We found we always did well whilst many of our peers were suffering fines or multiple regulator visits. We realised we were obviously quite good at compliance and decided to change our corporate assistance division into helping businesses with their compliance.

People forget that the reason for data collection around Regtech is to help companies pass inspections and avoid prosecution that may lead to massive fines, reputational damage and jail for individuals. We believe that the two strands of compliance are symbiotic. The Regtech is the scalable digital part and the corporate compliance is the backup consultancy. It also uses and works with the data systems and feeds some of its data. You might say it’s the Ying and Yang of the industry. It completes the Circle of Compliance. Hence Regtech and Compliance.

How do you provide accurate and efficient Translation services with your high-quality professional translation and localisation services?

This is interesting as people forget the reasons behind client on-boarding and checking. Many businesses ask for our DD information for on-boarding but also use it for legal and contractual purposes. They also need to understand what they are looking at. So if you are American and receive documents in Hindi or Japanese, its not just about ticking the box that you have them, but the regulator might ask a compliance officer what the document means during an inspection.

Having a law firm and a worldwide translation network, means that we can not only provide localised translations from any language to any language, but certify them, legalize or Apostille the translated document.

As an established business leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into Information Services & Regtech Industry?

We entrepreneurs and innovators are dreamers. Budding Entrepreneurs should always remember that on their journey they will come across detractors and competition. Competition is normal, its good as it drives the market. Just strive hard for what you want to achieve and do not forget the little things, like administration and finance. You can be the greatest innovator, salesperson, or dealmaker; but if you have not got the business basics right, you won’t survive.

Information Services and Regtech are not just about tech or information, they are like any business, they are about satisfying the client’s needs.

Finally, in my view, it doesn’t matter what industry an entrepreneur is in, it’s the same fundamental; entrepreneurship is ‘Belief in Yourself’. You really do need that confidence that you are doing the right thing, it’s what gets you through the tough times.

So, believe in yourself and never stop dreaming!!

How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

Keep innovating for the next 5 as we have done for over 20 years, its paramount in this digital age we live in. We are working to be the ‘go to’ place for Regtech globally and a household name in the world’s top regulated businesses. We are working on some smart systems and processes that will truly be ground-breaking and disruptive in the industry in the coming years. Yet much is about watching trends in the market with versatility and flexibility, key. In 2018, the market was changing fast and we re-wrote our marketing material 3 times in the year, based on the fast-changing client needs. We had to adjust our products at the same time.

Before I changed the business to concentrate on Regtech I analyzed when we did really well historically and found it was during years where we innovated the most, constantly bringing out new or updated products. So that is what we see ourselves doing. It will never stop.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

“Our Regtech systems are provided either directly to clients via our web platforms, mobile App & API, or indirectly via rd major channel partners & 3 parties via our white labelled systems. We work with several of the world’s top banks as well as the big, regulated, consulting firms amongst others. As I said before, and we’re often told this – Armadillo always delivers. I often say to our major clients, especially if we’re doing some RPA with data supply, that once it’s all set up “If you don’t say Wow! I want to know about it,” says Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Cohen.