First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: I am fortunate that all my family and I are doing good. Thank you for asking. The situation requires the whole family’s efforts in terms of organization, but we have got into new habits, and we found our path to go through this period.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Smart Oversight.
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: I am one of the co-founders of Smart Oversight. I come from the business side. I worked as a consultant in Big 4 and as a risk manager for the financial sector. Over the past 20 years, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws and regulations have become more stringent and are increasingly time-consuming, particularly in the European Union. No principle of proportionality can be applied, so if you are an independent accountant, your obligations are the same as a large international bank. Overall, you have two solutions, either spending the greatest part of your time doing AML manual controls at the expense of your core business or taking a resolution to automate your processes. Still, most solutions on the market are targeting large structures with high set-up and maintenance costs.
The idea for creating Smart Oversight came from this simple observation. There are not only large corporations in the financial sector, and all actors have the same regulatory requirements in relation to the AML/CTF framework, whatever their size. We really wanted to create a tool to support small and medium-sized companies in their obligations to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and, in particular, on the know your client (KYC) process.
How does Smart Oversight innovate?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: We are innovative in two aspects. The first aspect that seems the most obvious is the technological input. We introduce Natural Language Processing into the search mechanisms. We use an expert system for personalized learning mechanisms for each of our clients. But there is also an innovation aspect in the tool’s flexibility. Our clients, even if they come from the financial sector, have different professions. Law firms don’t have the same needs as wealth managers or certified accountants. We offer them the opportunity to take over the tool and fully adapt it to their needs. Therefore, users have the opportunity to tailor their AML/CTF tool to the services offered and build on their risk-based approach. In B2B, ultimately, the user only cares about innovation if it is translated into a competitive advantage for his business. Getting a faster onboarding process becomes a competitive advantage for the financial sector.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: The virus has not changed much of our work habits. We already had a strong use of remote work. Now we are careful to respect all health rules in order to protect our teammates and the people we may meet in our professional environment. It was mainly on our sales actions where changes did occur, we were in the middle of prospecting foreign markets when the pandemic broke out, and we had to slow down the pace for many of them. Even if we can prospect with the technological tools available, seeing people remain important, especially for the first contact in a deal. On the other side, it gave us the opportunity to strengthen our position in our local market.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: I don’t have any specific difficult choices that directly come to my mind, but I spend my day making decisions. What is difficult is to try to remain rational while making decisions under time pressure, for you can get carried away by emotion. It is in these situations that I am glad to have a partner and advisors. It facilitates the decision-making process.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: Family and sport are my two strong pillars against stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: We have many competitors, but Smart Oversight is a good alternative with a strong value proposition for small and medium-sized structures that have to respect AML/CTF requirements. Our solution does not need any complex implementation; it is a SaaS solution. You just have to create an account to access it. That is quite simple, and it is a key factor in a sector where some actors are not yet used to tech in their daily professional life. We also offer a high level of flexibility.
Your final thoughts?
Guillaume Vieira de Carvalho: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present what we do. Motivation and resilience are the keys to entrepreneurship. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
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