How Zeidler Group’s new CFO is driving its push with data-powered legal services

Asset managers typically have to use multiple law firms to handle their compliance processes, with expensive and laborious processes; however, Zeidler Group is leveraging data and technology to resolve this issue.

Earlier this year, Thilo Zeidler joined Zeidler Group, as its new chief financial officer and product owner of various data products. The RegTech company was founded in 2008 by his brother Arne Zeidler, who serves as the current CEO. The decision to join his brother was not sudden. Thilo Zeidler explained he has been a firm believer of his brother’s mission for many years. Much like the mission statement of the RegTech company, Zeidler believes the future of legal advice lies within automation and standardisation.

Thilo Zeidler said, “I’ve always asked him [Arne Zeidler], if I could join in some way or form. So every year for the past 12 years I’ve pitched to him explaining why I should be part of this. It took a while, but finally he agreed. I think one of the reasons he finally agreed is that there has been quite an expansion in the company lately and in the near future it wants to become even more of a data solution business. This is where my experience and knowledge starts to come in a lot more handy and hopefully will help support the continuous drive of being a leading law and tech hybrid firm.”

One of the main growth channels Zeidler Group currently is employing is around data utilisation. The RegTech company is using data to improve legal advice and offer enhanced solutions to clients. This is helping some clients move away from managing things through Excel sheets and into automated workflows, approvals, document generation, visualisations, and calculations for regulatory reports. This is where Zeidler fits in perfectly.

During his career, Zeidler has worked for Nomura Asset Management, Credit Suisse and more recently, Goldman Sachs where he served as managing director. During his time at these companies, he has established a wealth of expertise and experience in financial markets, asset management, coding and data science, including working on multiple data and technology projects.

One of his favourite projects started right after joining Goldman Sachs. He had become part of a trading desk that was dealing and making markets for clients in several thousand instruments, possibly the highest number across desks. This led to various unusual challenges and no existing solution used for other desks seemed to fit. He ended up building a new team and a technology-driven tool suite to leverage available data to provide clients with a constant and improved service.

These skills will help Zeidler Group enhance its product suite. Zeidler Group provides asset managers with technology-driven legal advice to streamline investment fund compliance processes. To streamline the legal process, the company offers standardised templates and integrates technology to automate workloads. In a previous interview with the founder and CEO Arne Zeidler, he explained how the company started off focusing on legal advice, but is slowly transitioning to focus on technology at its core. Following a 30% revenue growth over each of the past three years, the company is making another investment to further enhance its data capabilities.

At the helm of this will be Thilo Zeidler. His role will also see him help ease the expansion efforts as the company becomes a single location for all legal advice. Part of this will also include providing comfort to clients. “We want to make sure that the expansion doesn’t harm the experience that the clients have, because we believe they are very happy and they feel they are being taken care of on an individual basis. With the expansion there will be the need of extra focus on being able to continue providing that kind of service.”

The company is keen to listen to its clients and what they want. They are even a large driver behind its current growth plans. Zeidler stated that as regulations become more complex, many of its clients do not have the time or resources to handle the surge in requirements. As Zeidler Group is already helping with their fund structures, many are happy for the company to do more, such as producing factsheets, PRIIP KIDs, EMT reports, due diligence solutions and many more. “One of the main reasons we’ve been growing so fast is because existing clients asked for specific new solutions. We have built those and then rolled them out where suitable subsequently. This also applies to non-standard ones, the ones you wouldn’t necessarily associate a law firm with. Several new tools of that kind are being build with clients as we speak” he said.

What makes Zeidler Group different from competitors is its unique combination of being a legal tech company and a real law firm. This is much better for its clients as they feel safe they are getting the best of both worlds. Many traditional firms might not use technology as much and are much more expensive to use. While a purely technology-reliant solution might not offer the best customer service and no legal or regulatory advice.

He added, “What I believe is that if you offer tech solutions, because they’re standardised and scalable, there might not be as much individual support given to the client. While I think we actually have a really good mixture of the law firms’ approach of taking tailor-made care of clients with simple standardised automated tools that support them. So I think they do get both sides.”

Beyond that, clients are also able to get all their needs from a single location, he explained. They can work with Zeidler Group to draft their prospectus but use the data overlap and new technology-powered tools for fund governance, report validation, dissemination, reporting, EFTs and much more.

Reacting to clients’ needs is not the sole route for development. Zeidler explained he is keen to assess how clients’ data could be used to further build other new products that go beyond regulatory requirements. For example, one current project involves using data to supply businesses with intelligent descriptive services, with a future expansion into offering predictive analytics.

Growth is very much on the table for the company at the moment. In addition to the developments mentioned and vertical expansion through supporting new regulations, such as SFDR reporting, Zeidler is also growing horizontally by adapting and deploying its solution into new countries.

Zeidler concluded, “We’re in an industry that’s constantly evolving. And we are a company that’s continuously expanding. We’ve have added several new products, headcount and even offices over the last 12 months, solely to keep up with demand. We are very much looking forward to being able to serve our clients on a broader and even more global scale.”

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