Innovation in risk management: A new way to cut out the middle man

MEETIG8 featured in The Australian Financial Review

On 5th April 2017, MEETIG8 was featured in The Australian Financial Review (“AFR”).

MEETIG8 is Australia’s first online marketplace for risk and compliance, and provides a new and innovative way for companies to find experienced and high quality specialists for project or short-term placements.

Below is the full article taken from the AFR. I hope you’d enjoy the read!

A new start-up called Meetig8 promises to shake up the financial services risk and compliance sector.

The risk-management industry is about to collide with the gig economy. That’s good news for companies needing quick access to risk experts and compliance professionals.

Businesses hire risk and compliance contractors to help them navigate complex laws and regulations, and avoid the pitfalls.

James Lai, former head of risk and compliance assurance at Westpac, says regulation and compliance costs are “hitting the roof”, particularly in the financial services sector.

“Companies are spending a lot of money complying with new regulations from APRA, ASIC and AUSTRAC,” Lai says.

 

“These regulations are coming relentlessly, in large waves and volumes. Banks and insurance companies are spending so much money on compliance that it’s hitting their bottom lines.”

The big four accounting firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG and EY) dominate the risk and compliance sector. All work on a “leverage model”– in other words, they charge the client more than they pay the risk consultant.

Lai is preparing to disrupt that model with his new online platform, called Meetig8.

Meetig8 (pronounced “mitigate”) is a “regtech”. This new class of regulatory-technology companies specialise in finding nimble, secure and cost effective ways for clients to solve regulatory and compliance requirements.

During his time at Westpac, Lai became frustrated with inefficiency in the sector. He’d seen both the “buy” and “sell” sides of the industry and knew it wasn’t working to the clients’ advantage.

“I was paying $1700 a day for people with three years’ experience from a big firm,” Lai says. “On the first day of the job I would ask them, ‘What do you know about these regulations?’

“They would say, ‘Not much.’ I was actually paying to upskill the big firms’ juniors.” Lai set up Meetig8 to “cut out the middlemen” – the big firms and recruiters.

Meetig8 directly connects organisations with experienced freelance specialists in risk, compliance and auditing – at a fraction of the cost, Lai says. “There are people out there willing to work for $1000 who have 20 years’ experience, who can hit the ground running.”

Meetig8 is due to launch officially next month. However, because of demand, it’s already taking registrations online and linking specialists with businesses.

Here’s how it works. An organisation registers for no cost and posts a brief to Meetig8, describing the work it needs done. Specialists then pitch for the work. The organisation can then shortlist and hire the freelancers they like. In a few months, Meetig8 will introduce “matching technology” to streamline the list of freelancers so their skills match the job required.

Lai stresses Meetig8 is not a recruitment service. Rather it connects companies directly to the risk and compliance experts they need. That’s something many recruiters can’t do, he says: “They call themselves ‘risk and compliance recruiters’, but they haven’t spent a day in risk-management. We are ex-risk professionals; we understand what business needs.”

Meetig8’s specialists are independent freelancers and small firms. Each is vetted by Lai and a team of risk and compliance professionals.

“Instead of giving 10 CVs and praying that one would get through, we’re actually giving a lot less – maybe just one or two – because we are confident in who we represent and what a business needs.”

We are ex-risk professionals; we understand what business needs

Meetig8 facilitates all contracts and payments. It also provides a free talent-search service for businesses that require a candidate with niche skills. Specialists are reviewed when the project has been completed. Clients can check out the reviews before hiring.

Lai says Meetig8 is suitable for any Australian company that has to wade through regulations and risk in financial services. Once established, Meetig8 plans to expand overseas and to other highly regulated industries such as oil and gas.

Lai has timed Meetig8 well. Banks want to cut costs by trimming headcount and improving efficiency. Global market uncertainty and increased compliance costs are weighing on banks, wealth managers and insurance companies.

“Having more headcount means the balance sheet liability is heavy,” Lai says. “Companies are using contingent labour to make cost savings.”

With more freelance work available, many workers are ditching their nine-to-five office jobs for something more flexible. In the “gig economy”, workers move from gig to gig, taking contract work as sole traders or small businesses.

This isn’t necessarily easy. Freelance risk and compliance specialists have to pitch for work, relying on their own personal brand. They can be hard to find when a company urgently needs a specialist. Until now, there has been no “one-stop shop” for risk and compliance professionals.

Meetig8 gives these specialists the benefit of a recognisable brand but allows them to retain flexible conditions. It’s akin to what Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo have done in other industries.

“It’s easier to group together under one brand, rather than work as individuals,” Lai says. “We have one brand.”

 

“Whenever someone needs a risk and compliance person for a short-term gig, they will think Meetig8, not John and Smith.”

He adds: “Meetig8 aims to be more than a marketplace. We want to create a community of like-minded specialists and a knowledge-bank of best practices in risk and compliance.”

Meetig8 will soon offer its members and clients a variety of networking events, he says.

Meetig8 is based out of Tank Stream Labs in Sydney, a co-working space that helps start-ups gain support and exposure.

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