Blog

 

 

Due diligence takes a lot of diligence

An interview with Divna Doycheva, Service Delivery Manager of Risk & Compliance at A Data Pro, about her way from a rank and file analyst for a new due diligence project to its manager.

DSC_5488

New job, new project, new office

Divna’s first year with A Data Pro was more than exciting. She started as a media analyst, monitoring web content for car engines but two months later a lot changed… a new job, a new project and a new office came along. The company won a big risk and compliance project in 2013, a team was set up and Divna was part of it all – trainings, retrainings, guidelines, daily calls with the client. Even new premises had to be leased urgently as the client wanted the analysts to be fully dedicated to the project and work in complete isolation from the existing due diligence team.

The people were lucky to be in direct contact with a very seasoned client, to clarify templates, guidelines, to discuss issues case by case, Divna says. They also took the opportunity to suggest changes that facilitated work. This two-way communication sped up the set-up phase and nurtured a rewarding partnership.   

Growth and promotion

From day one Divna realised that you need a lot of diligence to do due diligence work. At first she was overwhelmed by the long searches but soon got the hang of it. “There is nothing like the kick you get when you open a super relevant source which will help you find information much easier and faster tomorrow.” That’s how she got her way around various databases of regulatory sources, news feeds on tenders and government contracts, court announcements in the Czech Republic.

A few months after the launch of the project, Divna took over the team leadership. In the summer of 2014 she started to combine the team leadership with project management. This “hybrid” position made it easier for her to share decision making with the team. They embraced the responsibility and enjoyed it.

The project manager’s tasks are different from disentangling unhealthy schemes, Divna smiles. She missed the dogged searches but the position gave her new opportunities – to work with people, to encourage them, listen to them and tailor work to individual needs and desires. It is a challenging task, considering the physical and mental load – the analysts go into all-out details to deliver their best. You can’t do it without getting into their shoes. She saw her role chiefly in helping them with tips and solutions – how things could happen as best as possible for the customer’s needs and priorities.

1

She is already studying the opportunities of taking new projects in Risk & Compliance apart from research on corruption schemes and money laundering. One of the options is screening for false positive matches, that is allowing for people with common names such as John Smith to be efficiently cleared. She also sees great potential in due diligence for compliance with the regulations on hazardous materials and the sourcing of the so called conflict minerals. In the USA companies are already required to disclose the origin of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold because such minerals are mostly mined in Congo and the surrounding countries where the revenues are used by warlords to fuel bloody conflicts. Such regulations are expected to be introduced soon by the EU.

The people – a mountain of expertise

“If it’s on the web we can find it,” Divna says about the team’s wizardry in unearthing and weighing information. Small things like finding sources for establishing a company’s political relations with government members or tricks for optimizing searches lead to larger ideas. “Circulating that knowledge, exchanging views and experiences crystallizes new best practices,” she explains.

And those practices work. The team can verify and dig out any information a client needs to check out on partners. She gives some examples. A due diligence report has alerted a multinational that an Azerbaijani distributor has falsely declared that it is its Gold Partner, a certification that gives it a much better image. Ownership searches of Russian companies have revealed least expected shareholders. Some businesses there are not obliged by law to disclose their owners. Usually 1% of the company is held by the CEO and the remaining 99% by unnamed shareholders. What makes things even more blurred is that subsidiaries have the same registration numbers as the parents.

2 (2)

Overall, Russian mainstream media are very stiff-lipped about such cases, which makes the social web your next click, Divna adds. Discussions on intricate corporate crimes can be found in blogs. Facebook and Twitter may reveal some ugly human propensities. Checks of a client-facing German guy for unprofessional posts showed anti-semitic comments, nudes, etc. Putting such things in a report isn’t easy, either. It needs a professional hand.

Change is a constant at A Data Pro

The most typical features of A Data Pro are its dynamics and flexibility, Divna says. They are crucial for delivering quality products at tight deadlines and developing the business along the value chain. “I wouldn’t be able to manage that dynamics without insights from the people around me. It’s not a one-way street,” she notes.

She is determined to further promote and cultivate the culture of sharing best practices, knowledge and expertise so that we can grow and improve the service. “We strive for excellence, don’t we, one of our company’s values”, she notes.