For us in Finalis, 2022 is beginning with an air of excitement and anticipation, as 2021 has ended with a thrilling sense of accomplishment.
Over the past year, as a brand-new fintech startup serving investment bankers, placement agents and independent dealmakers, we helped our customers handle the daunting regulatory compliance and deal challenges inherent in the industry. Finalis team members spent every day of 2021 intensely focused on delivering genuine value to our customers—and, through the experiences and challenges of the past year, learned critical lessons on doing just that.
As a 100% remote-work startup with a globally distributed team, Finalis is in a perfect position to capitalize on the ‘new normal’ of the pandemic-ravaged world of the past couple of years. So as this new year begins, we want to take the opportunity to reflect on our company’s progress, highlighting key aspects of growth and best practices that we have all unlocked together, as a sharply functioning team. We have Alex Sueldo, our COO & GC, who in the few short months since joining Finalis in October 2021, to thank for operationally guiding the team in such a direction and delivering essential support to ensure organizational alignment.
We’re starting this year with 61 team members (from 7 different countries!) — a 306% growth YoY — with 11 new hires joining this month. Astute planning and coordination are key to this growth. Our new Head of People, Cintia Carciochi, facilitated an opportunity for us to be together at our very first Finalis Team Off Site that took place last November. Even though it was, for many of us, the first time seeing each other in person, it felt as if we’d always been together in one big office sharing, conversing, and working together 5 days a week.
It’s incredible for a remote workforce to already have that sense of community. In an initiative led by People, the Make a Difference (M.A.D.) team has integrated members from all functional areas, with the purpose of empowering and enabling diversity, well-being, and engagement across Finalis.
Our extraordinary Chief Compliance Officer, Brad Ziemba, observed that finding quality people, especially in this distributed model, has been pivotal to Finalis’ growth. It’s what got his attention when he first joined the company, also noting the ideal flexibility in the work schedule. Finalis team members highlighted that working in this game-changing regtech company makes you feel that you can actually make a difference, not only in your day-to-day projects but also in the financial industry as a whole. Brad asserts, “We never had a seat at the table in the compliance world; we were always on the expense item, but at Finalis your voice actually matters.” Given that sort of empowerment, the Compliance team’s proactive commitment to professionalism and creativity has led to a superior level of support and assistance of our 100+ affiliated investment bankers and placement agents, with quick turnaround times without compromising high quality service.
Finalis’ main focus in 2021 was the rollout of a “Compliance as-a-Service” (CaaS) solution, in which the synergy between technology and compliance immediately appealed to our client base. Through our tech hub, My Finalis, customers are able to submit compliance documentation and download legal templates, allowing them to move decisively away from the archaic system of e-mail and spreadsheets in the traditional private market dealmaking space. Integrated in the CaaS rollout is Finalis’ Virtual Data Room (VDR), a platform used exclusively by our customers to facilitate their deal diligence needs.
Through our technologically-based deal workflow and compliance service, we have manifested a fundamental principle, as Brad has sharply articulated: “Technology is the great equalizer—we can look and feel as big as we want with a limited workforce. We can adopt and adapt technology to the specific needs of our bankers. This allows us to compete with the big banks.”
Saying that about technology is one thing—carrying it out is entirely another. And Finalis can’t be where it is today, from a technology standpoint, without our exceptional Product & Engineering (P&E) team led by Guido Barosio. P&E is intently focused on dramatically improving our user experience through a complete review of the customer journey on the Finalis platform, as we seek to be finely attuned to the specific needs of our customers. That is why this year P&E has changed the UX of the platform, and rolled out our newest and most sought-after feature, the Mandate Marketplace (MM), the beta of which we launched in Q4 2021. MM will revolutionize the way customers interact with one another; they’ll be able to leverage collaboration with partners in the Marketplace to support their business development efforts.
We have our Customer Success team to thank for always being visible and assisting our customers, and forwarding necessary feedback to P&E to develop or fine-tune amazing features. Head of CS Mark Sopcik just recently joined Finalis but has already caught on and is always thinking of better ways to boost our customer experience. This month, the CS team will commence implementation of ITSM (IT Service Management) throughout Finalis; ITSM refers to the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting and managing the lifecycle of IT services.
Speaking of ways to improve, we’ve had a new department roll-out this year — Insights, led by Agostina Romero. Insights is a service supporting our bankers in deal transactions, and enabling third-party vendor research assistance for our affiliates. This team is growing in 2022, not only in team members but also broadening the scope of its services. Crucially, Insights is teaming up with our Marketing department, led by Chloe Airaldi, to assist our affiliates with their branding, newsletters, informational teasers and other marketing content products. And finally, this past year the Insights team has leveraged its own content hub which keeps our affiliates up-to-date with content relevant to their industries, including blog pieces, exclusive newsletters and deep-dive reports.
Our Head of Finance, Guillermina López Aguado, has been leading the department with great efficiency and sophistication by triggering clean invoice processes for our partners and assisting them with all their needs. The team's initiatives have also positively impacted our internal structure by boosting cross-functional synergies.
Last but certainly not least, our incredible Growth Team, led by our Senior Revenue Manager, Juan Manuel Villegas, has had quite a few highlights this past year. By EoY 2021, we far surpassed our client-base expectations and revenue from commissions on deals closed by Finalis clients has skyrocketed. This is a strong validation of boutique banks’ desire to minimize their broker-dealer fees on commissions but pay a higher fixed monthly rate as their confidence regarding their ability to close deals grows. As we “attract the long tail” of investment banks onto our platform, Finalis will inevitably be the go-to solution for boutiques in the lower middle market of the investment banking and placement agency industries, and will become relevant for even larger banks.
As our CEO Federico Baradello remarked in his recent year-ending communication, “To say that what we accomplished this year is ‘extraordinary’ is to understate things. It wasn’t just merely extraordinary—it was spectacular. It’s remarkable that Finalis has only been around for a year and a half and has already gained the traction we have in our market today.”
Finalis in 2022 seeks to not just achieve what it did in 2021, it looks to outstrip it—to decisively disrupt business as usual in the dusty corners of private market dealmaking. The signs abound, industry trends are favorable, and momentum is on the side of Team Finalis as it powers on in a market sector that hasn’t seen anything like it before.