Neil Patel

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In the world of financial crime compliance, few names resonate as profoundly as Tom Scampion’s. Born in Warwickshire, UK, Tom’s career journey has been anything but ordinary.

From his early days in the corporate world to leading his own venture, Tom’s story is a testament to the power of data, the importance of collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of innovation. In this exclusive interview, Tom talks about onboarding his first customer, dealing with the competition, and engaging regulators.

He also reveals how he built partnerships with FMIs and got them excited about the journey they had embarked on.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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From Warwickshire to Oxford: The Foundations of a Career

Tom’s early years in Warwickshire were, as he fondly recalls, filled with the charm of the English countryside. “It’s all chocolate boxes and cookies and cream,” he muses, highlighting the idyllic environment that shaped his upbringing.

This quaint backdrop set the stage for Tom’s academic journey, which took a significant turn when he enrolled at Oxford University. There, he pursued the rigorous and intellectually demanding course of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE).

“I was a political nerd, obsessed with how we get governed,” Tom shares. This fascination with politics, combined with the analytical rigor of economics and the ethical considerations of philosophy, provided Tom with a well-rounded foundation that would prove invaluable in his future entrepreneurship journey.

Diving into Data and Analytics

Tom’s entry into the corporate world was marked by a deep dive into data and analytics. “When it comes down to decision-making, the ability to make good decisions based on limited information was a challenge for everyone,” he explains.

In the 90s and early 2000s, the explosion of data generation posed both opportunities and challenges. Tom was at the forefront of this wave, keen to transform raw, unstructured data into actionable insights. He could foresee that data would drive commerce, politics, and all sorts of spheres.

Working at Deloitte

Tom started to think about how he could make data useful and place it at everyone’s fingertips. His tenure at Deloitte, where he served as the Global Head of Analytics, was particularly transformative. “The beauty of working for a firm like Deloitte is the biggest problems were there to be solved,” Tom notes.

Regardless of their clients’ size and scope and the challenges they struggled with, Tom and his team were able to take them on.

Leading a team of bright minds, he tackled some of the most complex challenges facing global corporations, leveraging advanced analytics to drive decision-making and innovation.

Tom spent 15 years at Deloitte and recalls them as being the most motivational of his life. When he started out, it wasn’t even called analytics, but more commonly called database marketing or management information. It would be a while before analytics became a business tool.

Unlike today’s times when Tom has CVs coming across his deck of people who know Python and different forms of SQL and query languages, companies had a small team that would find answers to the questions they asked.

Today, data and analytics have taken center stage with data being the driving force that runs businesses. As Tom recalls, back in the day, financial crime compliance was more policy-driven, unlike financial crime compliance which is all about analytics today.

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The Entrepreneurial Leap: Founding GSS

Despite a fulfilling corporate career, the idea of entrepreneurship was enticing. “I think lots of us are frustrated entrepreneurs. We’ve always wanted to do something, drive our own business,” Tom reflects. But finding the right opportunity and the one thing that feels right is more challenging.

The pivotal moment came when several banks approached him with a pressing problem: the fragmented and duplicative nature of financial crime compliance efforts. They needed a unified platform to streamline these processes, and they saw Tom as the ideal person to build it.

Tom was well aware that becoming an advisor was very different from his corporate roles. He would be responsible for the outcomes. It would be his business, decisions, team, and colleagues making the difference.

But the opportunity that came up was something he was passionate about. And the solution in the space was really ripe for being deployed.

The GSS Business Model

Thus, GSS (Global Screening Services) was born. GSS offers a SaaS-based, cloud-native transaction screening service aimed at ensuring compliance with global sanctions. “We make money by creating a transaction fee-driven screening service,” Tom explains.

As Tom reveals, GSS caters to fundamentally everyone who is regulated by any institution around the world or any regulator around the world who has an obligation to pay attention to the laws that prohibit doing business with sanctioned entities.

These entities could be individuals, businesses, or countries. They must screen their traffic and transactions and make sure they’re doing so at a level that is acceptable. But also in a way that does not create unnecessary friction or cost to the business.

The model is compelling: charge a fee for each transaction, with costs decreasing as transaction volumes increase. This approach not only reduces costs for banks but also enhances the quality and efficiency of compliance efforts.

Tom looks back fondly at the first customer they onboarded. He recalls how they had to prove their product in a proof of concept environment and how it was different from in an offline world to actually being operationally live.

Building the GSS Network of Experts

The moment of truth came when the product finally transcended the testing phase and went live. However, Tom and his team had all their experience baked into the product which seemed to get stronger and stronger and had several benefits that all the other platform users appreciated.

The turning point came when their competitors came together as one to collaborate. As Tom reveals, the “nicest thing about our world is that every customer wants everyone else in their industry to adopt.” His customers were happy to share their experiences which became a great sales asset.

GSS effectively reached out to a network of customers, their competitors, the banks in their region, their correspondent banks, and their correspondent networks. Tom talks about the ability to have competitors collaborate because it’s in their interests, which has been something great.

He regards GSS as a standards-based organization that can benefit everyone because everyone contributes and benefits. They have a virtual circle that has had 3,000 one-to-one meetings over three years.

At each of the meetings, experts give their know-how since they know it’s in everyone’s interests to create less friction, higher quality, and less cost when it comes to delivering the important part of compliance.

Engaging and Connecting Regulators

Engaging with regulators early on was another strategic move that paid off. “We went early with the regulators, particularly in North America,” Tom explains.

He recalls reaching out to a couple of big departments in the US Treasury, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), and TFFC that look after financial crime compliance.

This was possibly the best decision Tom and his team made. Regulator engagement is important because they’re a stakeholder and want financial crime compliance to work. By seeking input and addressing concerns upfront, GSS built strong relationships with key regulatory bodies.

This proactive engagement ensured that GSS’s solutions met regulatory standards and gained the trust of both regulators and clients. That’s how the public and private sectors collaborated in the public-private partnership.

Having regulators as a stakeholder here was an important strategic call because Tom wanted GSS to work in a regulated space.

They wanted the governments, financial services regulators, and privacy regulators to know exactly what GSS was doing and to feel great about it. Engagement and connections with banks and regulators are an important part of GSS.

Raising Capital for GSS

Fundraising in a heavily regulated space is no small feat. GSS has successfully raised about $90 million, including a significant Series A round. The key, according to Tom, was choosing the right partners.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Tom Scampion was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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As Tom explains, “Everybody likes the concept of a utility in the compliance space, using a SaaS model. It ticks a lot of boxes for different regulators and different investors.” Strategic investors, particularly banks that became both investors and customers, played a crucial role.

“Choosing strategic investors has been an important part of this,” Tom notes. These investors not only provided capital but also brought invaluable industry expertise and validation. These entities understand the challenges, opportunities, and the potential.

One of GSS’ principal regulator investors is Randy Quiles, who formerly worked for the US government in the Federal Reserve as the first head of supervision.

Vision for the Future

Looking ahead, Tom envisions GSS becoming the industry standard for compliance solutions. “In a GSS world, we are the standard,” he asserts. The initial focus on sanctions compliance is just the beginning.

As Tom explains, GSS is a purpose-driven business, passionate about changing the world and providing services to the 5,000 banks that need them.

His objective is to create the best capability that everyone can benefit from by eliminating duplicated tasks at an industry level in a closely interconnected world.

Future expansions may include areas like fraud prevention and ESG reporting, where industry-wide collaboration can drive significant improvements. Tom’s journey from corporate stalwart to entrepreneurial trailblazer offers valuable lessons in focus and strategic execution.

Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs

“You need to walk before you run,” he advises, emphasizing the importance of building a solid foundation before scaling up. Tom advises upcoming founders to focus on converting their ideas into neat terms and making sure everything is 100% complete before moving on to the next step.

Entrepreneurs don’t need to build a massive edifice in the first 12 months or the infrastructure. Their objective should be to convert customers and prove a service. They should build the experience of running a business and take it from there.

In Conclusion

In an era where data is king and compliance is paramount, Tom Scampion’s GSS stands as a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and excellence. His story is a powerful reminder that with the right vision and unwavering commitment, it’s possible to transform industries and create lasting impact.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • Tom Scampion’s academic foundation in PPE from Oxford University shaped his analytical and ethical approach to decision-making.
  • His corporate career at Deloitte emphasized the transformative power of data and analytics in solving complex global problems.
  • GSS, Tom’s entrepreneurial venture, offers a SaaS-based transaction screening service for financial crime compliance.
  • The collaborative model of GSS reduces costs for banks while enhancing compliance efficiency.
  • Early engagement with regulators ensured that GSS’s solutions met industry standards and gained trust.
  • Strategic investors, particularly banks, provided crucial capital and industry expertise for GSS’s growth.
  • Tom envisions GSS becoming the industry standard for compliance solutions, with potential expansions into fraud prevention and ESG reporting.



For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here). 

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Neil Patel

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