That’s admittedly a bold declaration—but it’s one that has the virtue of being true. Let me explain.
The two years since May of 2020 when I published a blog post—titled “Private market dealmaking is broken. It’s time to fix it.”—concurrent with the launch of Finalis, have been a singularly thrilling time for us, at our fintech startup. The assertion in that post’s title was surely audacious, perhaps even in-your-face, but it wasn't rash at all—it was born of a sober, hard-eyed look at the frayed realities of a broker-dealer space in the investment banking industry firmly stuck in decades-old, dated, technology.
Over the past two years, Finalis has made substantial inroads into revolutionizing that dusty and sleepy—but nevertheless critical—corner of the private securities brokerage landscape. The domain of regulatory compliance hasn’t quite seen something like Finalis before.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve closed $10.7M in seed funding from a variety of leading venture capital firms. This is a clear manifestation of Finalis becoming the fastest-growing independent broker-dealer in our segment of the market. This explosive growth also validates a latent market need for a turn-key, modern, solution in back-office compliance. As of today, we’ve exceeded the projections we made at our May 2020 launch—which were quite ambitious to begin with. By the end of FY2021, we had quadrupled our customer base from the end of Q4 2020, quadrupled our team member headcount, and grew revenues an amazing 16.5x—and we are strongly building on the momentum set last year with an additional 62 customers since the first half of 2022. We accomplished all of that growth while churning few customers.
The investment banks and placement agencies on Finalis’ platform don’t just have regulatory and compliance pain points, though those are certainly top-of-mind for them. Finalis’ North Star is to deliver leverage value to our customers—be that through compliance, business development, and the productivity tools in our tech-enabled, cloud-based platform.
Today, the Finalis Hub™ handles all regulatory profile and deal-related compliance matters, replete with a fully-integrated virtual data room solution. And, dramatically expanding the functionality of the Hub beyond compliance, the Finalis Marketplace™ delivers a proprietary platform sourcing deal-flow opportunities and collaborations for our customers. In the words of Finalis partner, Daniela Messina of Portside Capital Solutions, “[through the Marketplace] I’ve met so many outstanding bankers across the country working on some really interesting deals I’m keen on collaborating with!” And this is only the beginning for Finalis’ platform and network, with its bold claim of disrupting and democratizing the securities industry—for good.
At 150 customers and 210 Registered Representatives—and growing by the day—Finalis, in the span of 2 years, has already distinguished itself in the fragmented and legacy broker-dealer landscape. Our customers are some of the most sophisticated investment bankers, placement agencies, and independent dealmakers in the U.S., with firms ranging in size from a sole proprietorship, to a 30-person boutique investment bank. And in the months ahead, we’re setting our sights on larger dealmaking enterprises and expanding our offering overseas in the U.K., E.U., and Canada.
Beyond everyday company-building, we’re focused on what I’ve come to call ‘scaling the trust layer.’ This formulation has practical consequences. The starting point for this notion is that we don’t think world-class compliance and world-class service are mutually exclusive. There’s a tendency to equate moving fast on compliance with lowering one’s compliance standards. We’re finding that this is simply not true. Through technology, Finalis can deliver higher quality compliance at scale—which in turn scales the trust layer that unlocks revenue opportunities and growth for customers and their clients on our platform.
As we build Finalis, we are resolved to ensuring that our core values of integrity, excellence, and proactivity distinguish it in an industry that doesn't always live up to those values. For me, the most satisfying aspect of building Finalis is the opportunity to bring together a team that embodies these values, and in doing so, raises the bar across the industry to the benefit of our customers. Over the past two years, we’ve built an extraordinary, global team across every department and functional area in Finalis. I couldn’t be prouder of the human capital we’re continuing to assemble here—and am certain that the best is yet to come, in an industry long overdue for change.
One of our customers, Mike Ryan of MGR Capital, noted in a customer survey, “I’ve been in business for over 50 years—yes, since starting my first company at age 14. I’ve started, grown, and managed numerous companies, served on more than 70 boards (typically as Chairman) and I can say that I’ve been extremely impressed by the caliber, expertise, responsiveness, and superior service Finalis has provided me in my private securities practice.” As a startup, we’re well aware of the risks of complacency and are motivated to keep our focus squarely on our customers’ needs. In an industry whose structural currency is integrity, it’s the most important thing we can do. It’s also an industry that, prior to Finalis entering the fray, was mired in technological obsolescence.
The good news is, we’re fixing it. (And we’re hiring.)