One year after a major push and financial commitment by the Plato Partnership, 100% of sell side board members have completed the European Standard Questionnaire that Plia modernised in 2020. Along with participation from the buy side on the KYB (Know Your Broker) platform, a growing level of support is developing outside of the Plato Partnership. New investment management users see the value in understanding how their sellside partners are evolving as the market structure and potential conflicts of interest continue to become increasingly complicated. Plia is now viewed as the best and most secure option to manage this process, which has doubled the number of buy side users in 2021.
Bill Stephenson, CEO of Plia, said, “Despite the distraction created by the pandemic in 2020, we had a strong 2021 in terms of onboarding both buyside and sellside users. Buy Side firms representing over £13.5 trillion in AUM are now utilising Plia’s due diligence functionality. I think we underestimated the intensity of the new vendor due diligence process at some of the banks, but we’ve now made it over some significant hurdles that should benefit both sides of the Street heading into 2022. For example, our standard broker questionnaire of 124 questions was nothing compared to the vendor onboarding questionnaires we encountered globally; some were over 300 questions!”
In September 2021 Plia held advisory board meetings in both the U.S. and Europe. The European Advisory Board (EAB) consists of 10 major buyside (representing £10 trillion in AUM) and several of the largest global sell side firms. Support remains optimistic and strong, however, the European board was anxious for Plia to scale the network faster across increasingly more users and counterparties in the coming year. Plans are being created to widen the exposure to Plia, particularly with the enhancements and improvements completed over the past 18 months.
With the addition of Amy Scott, Head of Client Service in the U.K. as a local resource for European users of Plia, there has been a significant growth of activity on the platform. Stephenson added, “Having Amy available, even in a world where in-person meetings disappeared, has been a tremendous boost to our ability to focus on European-centric clients and their immediate needs. She will continue to be a core part of our offering as we work hard to onboard and support as many clients on the platform as possible – which we think should eventually include every significant asset manager and institutional broker-dealer.”
As the Plia platform continues to expand its network, the use case has flipped as the sell side struggles to manage the KYC process in an efficient and centralised way. Early in the third quarter of 2021, the Plato Partnership made a bold investment alongside Urvin.Compliance (the parent company of Plia) to build a viable solution in institutional KYC and AML. Dave Lauer, CTO of Plia has been working with the expanded Plia development team to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) for Plato users. While the Plato Partnership partially underwrote this project on behalf of its members, the hope is that the solution will improve compliance inefficiencies for all participants in the marketplace. Lauer said, “We are excited about working with both buyside and sellside firms to create a more elegant KYC technology solution with direct input from legal, compliance, and KYC experts as part of all phases of this project. We expect to have an MVP available by the end of 2021 so early users can test and provide feedback to our team. There are significant benefits to getting this right, with confidentiality and security of the data in Plia as our number one priority.”
As 2021 comes to a close, there is a lot of optimism that both the KYB and KYC projects will gain significant scale, further streamlining these best execution and compliance processes while keeping costs as low as possible.
The Plia leadership team consists of:
Bill Stephenson, CEO
Dave Lauer, CTO
Anita Karppi, Strategic Advisor
Amy Scott, Head of Client Service/Product Manager
Jeff Estella, Strategic Advisor
Pete Herzog, Senior Security Advisor