The biz.Clarency platform wasn't the brainchild of any one person; it's the result of the views, experience and creativity of a highly experienced bunch. They've been working together less formally for a long time, mostly on the better-than-bank compliance processes that have driven the Choice Group to its leading position in global payments. It was through those processes that the concept of living diligence was born - the ability to re-evaluate every transaction and its parties rather than just onboarding a customer at the outset.
It's an interesting mix of skills; there's not much duplication, but lots of cross-over, so it's easy for ideas to be shared and nurtured, making it possible to bring those ideas into actual use. It also makes for highly entertaining (and sometimes quite loud)
Note that, as we hate implying that some people have more value than others, our team is listed in alphabetical order.
Anne-Sophie brings 30 years of experience in corporate governance and finance with a focus on risk management and financial crime compliance acquired in Tier 1 banks. She joined the Choice-Clarency group in an advisory role in 2019 in shaping the group’s best-in-class compliance framework. She's a certified accountant and holds an MBA in risk management and financial crime compliance (ACAMS).
She was formally trained in blockchain strategy at Said University Oxford, and joined the GDF as advisory member for the FATF’s revision of the 40 recommendations to include Virtual Assets and VA Service Providers.
Bob has worked around the world and lived in Europe, Asia and Africa. Throughout a semi-glorious career he's worked in government, technology and financial services, which is probably why just everyone knows him. He has a Japanese wife and a miniature schnauzer, was born in Cornwall and grew up in London. He describes himself - with some accuracy - as an innovator, a change maker and an all-round trouble maker.
He also knows this isn't the sort of resumé you'd normally post on your website, but he's the boss, so what can you do?
James brings an impressive financial track record, with senior positions at Bank One, the Kenyan Trade Development Bank, plus a list of influential advisory roles.
More importantly though, he’s deeply committed to a new Africa that can freely enter world trade without the barriers of de-risking and internal border restrictions. It was these values that first brought us together through a common aim.
Africa’s potential is vast, but it would be foolish to suggest that removing its impediments is a simple exercise. Thanks to James’s experience, commitment and creativity, we’re already making significant strides towards a future where Africa and the rest of the world achieve mutual benefit through open, ethical trade.
Thirty-odd years of technology marketing has seen Jem pioneering possibly the first interactive mailshots at the dawn of the 90s, moving from floppy disk to CD-ROM ahead of the interactivity boom in the middle of the decade. He's developed innovative projects for clients like IBM, Lloyds, BBC, HSBC and Global Payments.
An increasing portion of the last five years has been dedicated to developing products and marketing initiatives for the Choice-Clarency group, and now it's driven out the other distractions. He says it's almost as enjoyable as messing with old aeroplanes.
In a previous life, Jerry heroically bore the considerable burden of being Bob’s boss. This baptism of fire gave him the endurance, patience and – above all – sense of humour to take on the even mightier task of wrangling the unruly but seriously smart bunch that makes up Clarency.
On the serious notepaper, there’s a strong, board level financial background that includes names like RBS, Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and others. Jerry’s a great communicator, making him the ideal mentor to focus the team’s innate creativity towards coherent destinations.
We’re lucky to have him, and stand ready to fund any psychiatric support required to keep him going.
Khumo is the master of operations and administration. Before joining us she ran the operations at SCF Capital Solutions, funding working capital for small businesses in the green space. Through her work with Sophiatown Green Incubator she's been instrumental in guiding many start-ups and small businesses from concept to prefunding.
She worked extensively with Bob on the development of the GoldPay remittance system, an initiative that is creating an asset-backed stable coin which will allow for cheaper remittance costs for migrants in Africa and Asia.
Michael is one of those rare creatures: an IT wizard who speaks fluent Earthling. This means that we can identify what customers want from our systems and know that Michael and his team will deliver exactly what was requested. Anyone who has worked with IT teams on complex projects will know that this isn’t entirely usual.
Coming to us on the recommendation of a trusted industry partner, Michael took on the task of transforming our original powerful – but somewhat less than user-friendly – KYC system into something that could be used by our clients. The resulting front-end interface is elegant and simple, while his APIs are solid, dependable and easily implemented.
Every client and partner has slightly – or significantly – different requirements. Thanks at least as much to his infinite patience as to his technical ability, Michael always delivers.
Miel was already incumbent in a senior management role when we acquired Clarency in 2017. He oversaw a smooth transfer of operations, including working with regulators to negotiate a change of regulatory status for the company. That’s no easy task, and Miel’s successful execution of the project made it clear that this was no ordinary executive.
With a string of financial qualifications to his name, Miel combines technical knowledge with a practical approach to the real world – essential attributes when you’re working with a company that’s constantly expanding the envelope. In fact he’s so good that we can overlook his weird predilection for running marathons and being unacceptably fit.
Salesforce is an important component of our user interfaces. It allows easy, industry-standard communication between customer and partner systems and our own. We encountered Pieter when he took on the job of developing our Salesforce integration.
We were impressed.
Pieter brings twenty years’ experience of working with CRM and ERP systems. Like Michael, he’s also a fluent Earthling-speaker, making for an IT management team that can translate requirements into rapid, fit-for-purpose applications.
We love technology, but we're not interested in being trendy. That may be down to the innate conservatism of our financial backgrounds, but we think it's good sense not to get the cart pulling the horse. We're far more interested in the right technologies than we are in the best ones.
Many decades of financial experience have taught us that process is more important than detection. The billions levied on banks for non-compliance rarely stemmed from detection shortcomings; virtually all of them point to failures in process. That's why we assembled an experienced, process-focused management team to design and manage our platforms.
Our processes evolved from the better-than-bank compliance of our parent company, Choice International. Since 2004, Choice has set the standard for enhanced due diligence in cross-border transactions. Our task, as the new fintech arm of Choice, has been to make that process scaleable by considered automation of the areas that should be automated, making those that definitely shouldn't easier, quicker and more accurate for MLROs.
That's not to say we're innovation-averse. Our implementation of blockchain is highly next-gen, with a flexibility and immutability that breaks new ground. Our developers cut their teeth on projects for some of the largest financial enterprises. It's just a case of remembering what we're setting out to achieve, not which buzz-words we can build in.