Founded by Shane Brett in 2014, GECKO Governance has developed a regtech fund management solution that allows users to schedule, manage and monitor investment fund portfolios’ regulatory and compliance requirements in real-time.
The idea for the solution arose out of Brett’s real-world experience at the time. “He was working in consultancy, helping banks and financial services institutions comply with the new raft of regulatory requirements which had come about in the wake of the global financial crisis,” explains GECKO Governance Head of Risk and Compliance, Michelle McGuire. “He was working on compliance projects and was frustrated by a lack of software to assist with them. By and large, everything was managed on Excel spreadsheets. From that, the idea was born.”
Governance Engine for Compliance Knowledge and Operations
The GECKO solution, which stands for Governance Engine for Compliance Knowledge and Operations, manages end-to-end compliance needs. “The system is powered by user needs,” McGuire points out. “If you are launching a UCITS [Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities] product, the system is powered with all the steps needed to do that. Also, the system is based on blockchain, making it truly verifiable and immutable. It can’t be destroyed or changed. This is very attractive to regulators, as it gives a full audit trail, with all actions time and user stamped.”
It is also fully integrated with Microsoft Office. “This means you can see all outstanding tasks and reminders,” McGuire adds. “The system almost does the thinking for you with reminders. You can set reminders and due dates for compliance steps, and a traffic light system allows users to see the percentage of tasks completed, due, or overdue at every stage in the process.”
Partnerships with DMS and Grant Thornton
Response to the solution has been overwhelmingly positive. It was initially rolled out with DMS, the world’s leading fund governance, risk and compliance consultancy, before its world-wide launch in 2016. “Since then, we have signed an alliance partnership with Grant Thornton in the US, as well as a number of other leading institutions.”
The company now has offices in New York and Sydney and is targeting expansion into Asia. “Enterprise Ireland [the national export agency] has been a great help,” says McGuire. “Our offices are located in their Innovation Hubs in New York and Sydney. Enterprise Ireland has a great network of contacts and that allows you to extend your footprint globally quite quickly. They put us in contact with their colleagues in Singapore and that has been really useful. When you go to Asia and say you’re getting help from the Government, it’s amazing. Finance is a world-wide thing and Enterprise Ireland is able to mobilise its network of key contacts on your behalf.”
That support has also been important within the regulatory community. “Enterprise Ireland put us in touch with regulators in Sydney and Singapore,” she continues. “Their backing really helps with due diligence in that respect.”
The company is set to launch a highly innovative new product later this year. GECKO Crypto1 is a compliance system that enables a self-regulatory framework on behalf of the cryptocurrency token sale market. Most importantly, it provides a verifiable independent blockchain audit trail of compliance to satisfy global financial regulators.
The GECKO Crypto1 system will be powered with the compliance rules of the region in which the ICO is being conducted, and where there are no specific regulations, it will be powered with the 40 best practice steps as outlined by the ICO Governance Foundation.
Crucially, what it does is support initial coin offerings (ICOs) – a brand new way for companies to raise capital. “It’s an alternative to venture capital or equity sales,” McGuire explains. “It’s a quicker route to fundraising than traditional venture capital or bond markets, meaning that companies can raise more capital in a shorter timeframe. We are in the process of raising €20 million from an ICO ourselves. By living the process, we can be sure we develop the best possible solution.
“It’s a very exciting time for the company,” she explains. “We will use the capital raised through the ICO to complete the development of the new solution and expand internationally. Our goal is to expand into London and Asia. Singapore and Hong Kong are emerging as global financial hubs and we see Asia as a strategic region for us in the future. London is also still seen as a global financial capital and that is a strategic target as well.”