What you need to know about communications surveillance in energy trading

What you need to know about communications surveillance in energy trading

How to approach communications surveillance in energy trading? The 5 levels of monitoring.

Energy trading firms often use voice and eCommunications to trade a wide and complex set of products however, this activity hasn’t fallen under the direct supervision of regulators, until recently. With the implementation of MAR and Remit over the last few years, energy firms have invested in trade surveillance technology. With increased spotlight on energy markets, firms are now looking towards a wider set of monitoring tools including Communication Surveillance.  

Prior industry research suggests that, although there is still a lot of voice trading in this sector, reviewing calls is typically performed manually. Spot checks are usually carried out or deeper dive investigations happening when perhaps a trade surveillance alert occurs. Otherwise, calls are typically recorded and stored, available for compliance teams to review as and when.  

With different levels of communication monitoring and benefits to be achieved, firms must gradually increase monitoring capabilities to enhance and improve surveillance systems. VoxSmart can guide you through this process and provide an award-winning product suite, powered by state-of-the-art AI and ML technology.   

What are the 5 levels of communications monitoring? 

Communications monitoring can be broken down into 4 levels, each increasing in complexity for a more complete and comprehensive surveillance program.  

1. Call recording 

The first step to any surveillance program is to start recording, of course. However, that is where a lot of firms stop. Recording calls is a requirement under MiFID II, article 16.7.  However, we don’t see any value in just recording and storing these audio files away on a server collecting dust. They hold vital information which can be utilised not just to achieve better compliance but also to improve business processes using the insights gained from customer interaction.   

2. Listening to calls on an ad hoc basis 

The next stage is making these recordings available for compliance to review when necessary. This is otherwise known as sampling or manual sampling and has a very limited reach. While some smaller companies can make do with this method due to low call volumes, it is not an appropriate measure for larger firms or as a long-term supervisory control.  

3. Lexicon-based searches 

There is a wide variety of communications channels used by traders as part of their daily business. These include channels such as ICE chat and Bloomberg chat as well as emails and texts. Typically, these channels are authorised for use by compliance and some lexicon-based monitoring occurs across these channels. 

In some cases, lexicon searches have been able to highlight trader discussions worthy of further investigation. However, using only lexicon-based searching can result in a higher number of false positives. This is because the context is not being considered at the same time. A lot of software which centres around lexicon-only analytics do their searching across communication metadata without analysing the communication’s content. However, when both the content and metadata is analysed together, this allows for more powerful analysis and more refined alert results.   

4. Using AI to identify suspicious activity 

The adoption of AI based tools to interrogate large data sets and uncover suspicious patterns is an efficient approach. In fact, technology has evolved a lot in recent years and when applied at the right stage of the analysis process, it can produce increased levels of accuracy and detect signs of intent. This is most advanced level of communications monitoring.  

However, AI and ML technology for the trading floor should be deployed with the right approach and in the right measures. “BlackBox” AI is preventing accurate audits as outcomes generated often cannot be explained or justified which, for many firms, is increasing concerns around unknown bias and error rates.   

 

With regulatory pressure mounting discover how VoxSmart can help your firm face these obstacles with our award-winning Communication Surveillance solution. Voice and eComms on the one platform – it just makes sense to get in touch with our team today! 

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The Sunday Times 100: Employee Spotlight

The Sunday Times 100: Employee Spotlight

When it comes to start-up how many employees can say they’ve been there from the start? One such employee that can claim such a feat is Stuart Park our Global Product Director who joined VoxSmart at the very grass roots and has since helped build and shape The Sunday Times 100 company we see today!  

Although pinning him down for a 30 min non-product related call is near mission impossible, we somehow managed to achieve it and what came for this call highlights the journey which VoxSmart has been on over the last 11 years.  

Check it out for yourself below!  

When did you join VoxSmart and what was those initial few years like?  

I joined the in September of 2011, just before the big bang of November 2011 where the FSA (now FCA) introduced new regulations for mobile recording. This came off the back of the financial crash of 2008.  

There were two owners, two full-time employees (me being the second of those) and one contractor. We didn’t have a permanent office but what we did have was a small room in a stately home in Colchester that also functioned as a shared space. However, by 2012 met in small room in The Royal Association of Chartered Accountants on Moorgate, which I believe was a favour asked by our then CEO. In 2013 we moved into London to the 12th Floor in 30 Crown Place behind Liverpool Street station and had an office which could house 8 people maximum. 

From where we are now, with 6 global offices seems like worlds away from that small room in Colchester but here we are 11 years later! 

How has the company changed over the years? 

There’s been so many changes over the years but let me try to condense it!  

Firstly, going from 2 employees to over 160 employees are we currently stand in 11 short years in the grander scale of things has been quite the feat but it’s great to see new talent come through the doors!  

I would say perhaps the first big milestone was acquiring and onboarding out first big customers directly with thousands of end users in leading financial institutions which got the ball rolling for a lot of change to come. Shortly after we moved our offices into London, and it started to feel more established.  

2014 saw Oliver Blower join the fray and this rejuvenated the direction and vision of VoxSmart. With him having a strong financial services background it brought VoxSmart on a journey – he has spoken himself of the inefficiency of trading floors regarding mobile phone usage so the momentum this brought really scaled the business and push the vision forward.  

2015 also marked the year we launched VSmart and secured our first tier one bank after many long nights, 1am Domino pizza runs and a quick dash to New York where we were commended for our sheer passion for the product and resilience which bread the company culture which we see today.  

A few more years down the line, and a few more office moves, with the introduction of more and more talent to the team we have grown quite organically with the acquisition of Fonetic and then more recently GreenKey Technologies and our global expansion in several key financial hubs. All the while maintaining VoxSmart company culture which Group COO, Adrienne Muir and the team have worked on from the start.  

What has been a personal highlight for you in your career with VoxSmart? 

I guess what fills me with pride when I look back on those 11 years is the way in which we have remained true to our 5 pillars over the years– Resilience, Respect, Responsibility, Passion and Collaboration. Even at times when these values weren´t on paper in the early days they have always from part of what we do and where we want to go. For a small team to acquire a tier one bank up against a much bigger organisation at the time, the sheer amount of collaboration that went into that deal was immense! 

Another highlight which springs to mind is the injection of investment – initially from DeepBridge Capital and then more recently the Toscafund investment of $25 million. These added the fuel to the rocket which we see today! 

What was the most challenging thing you encountered in your years with VoxSmart? 

For any company the start-up to scale-up process is challenging – during this period of growth you must wear many different hats which isn´t always easy. Before the investment and the new talent which has since joined our team, we had to work with what we had and make that be enough was the challenge.  

Growing from 10 to 160 in a short amount of time how has the company adapted to these changes? 

Implementing the company culture and establishing those company values has really helped in navigating this growth. Adrienne Muir, since 2015 has worked tirelessly to build and develop these values which form an integral part of the company for which we are today. The support from the business, especially throughout the pandemic, really showed the company’s commitment to these values and how they are used throughout the business model.  

There’s also great transparency throughout the company from the C-Suite down, we all know what’s going on and what’s happening within the company. Culture really is king – finding the right people to align to that culture is not easy. 

If you could advice to anyone starting out in the company what would that be?   

Embrace the culture. Ask for help. Offer ideas and feedback from the get-go. It’s very Steve Jobs and cliché but we hire genuine people to tell us what to do, because otherwise what’s the point of bringing people in?! Embody the five pillars!  

What do you envision the next few years has instore for VoxSmart?   

Magic!  

From my part of the business, mobile capture, I’m looking forward to seeing what we are going to be able to achieve in relation to releasing powerful insights through embedded datasets held within recorded channels such as Voice and Instant Messaging to help business to continue to make better business decisions. It’s exciting to see the integration of our product portfolio, Comms Surveillance, Automatic Trade Reconstruction and Natural Language Processing to be able to deliver one vendor ecosystem to service our global customers.    

 

Stuart embodies VoxSmart’s company culture and forms an integral part of VoxSmart’s core foundation. From day 1 to The Sunday Times 100 he has seen it all and continues with the same passion and commitment to ensure VoxSmart’s continued success.  

If you are interested in joining the VoxSmart team, then check out our current available positions here!  

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    Graduate Blog Series: Marketing Intern Edition.

    Graduate Blog Series: Marketing Intern Edition.

    Switching things up with our latest instalment of our graduate series, we bring you our intern edition! Meet Ella who joins us this summer as part of our Marketing team. Ella is a current student of Mathematics at the University of Liverpool! 

    The boba tea connoisseur has been an active member of the marketing team for the last two months and has dived into every project with the same enthusiasm and drive! See what she has to say about her experience with VoxSmart below ↓   

    Name: Ella Hardiman 

    Age:  19 

    Degree: Mathematics 

    Role: Business Intern 

    Tell us about your role as part of the team at VoxSmart 

    I work in the marketing department here at VoxSmart, with the majority of what I do being pitching in on other people’s projects to help them move along a bit quicker. I tend to focus on internal correspondence in these projects, mainly when multiple teams are collaborating on something, which means I get to meet pretty much everyone! 

    I’m also working on an individual projects that lasts me most of the summer, something to build on that is a bit more creative focused such as generating blogs, social posts and interviews. This year, I’ve been working on inhouse communications, building a couple of different resources to allow all our teams to convey information to each other accurately and easily.  

    What do you enjoy most about working at VoxSmart? 

    It’s hard to pick just one thing. I love getting to feel like you’re making a difference; since VoxSmart is growing so rapidly, we’re constantly entering new territory, needing to create resources for new verticals in different regions. You’re not just remaking old material; you’re getting to create new material.  

    I also really like the hybrid working; having the freedom to vary your workspace is great for productivity and mental health. But if I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the team! The whole marketing team gets on great, and our morning meetings end up being personal catchups as well as debriefs. It’s great when you’ve got everyone in one place as well since our team are slightly divided geographically. And it’s not just the marketing team; the people in sales, accounts, IT, product, HR, you get to meet everyone (and they’re all great!). Team lunches and company socials keeps everyone in touch and builds great work relations. 

    What did you find the most challenging on entry into your role? 

    There was definitely an adjustment period when I first joined. Switching from 4 hours of classes a day at random intervals and weekends full of homework to a more consistent, traditional working structure combined with hybrid working took a second to get used to. There was also a bit of relearning regarding how the work is more self-motivated. That being said, now that I am used to it, it’s one of my favourite parts about working here as it gives you the freedom to be much more creative. 

    How has VoxSmart supported your personal development so far? 

    As a part of the marketing team training, I got to attend GROW London 2022. Various sessions and discussions were held discussing the future of customer privacy, sustainable company growth and tech trends. The whole event really solidified my understanding of the range of things you can do with marketing, and how it applies to almost any business-based scenario. 

    I’ve also been invited to attend various meetings and calls not related to my internship to try and get a better grasp of the company and the market it’s in. I feel like that extra level of learning has really helped me to develop both my understanding of VoxSmart, and RegTech as whole. 

    Would you recommend fellow students to partake in future VoxSmart summer internships? 

    Definitely. It’s really great, there’s always something to work on that’s both challenging and engaging. You get to meet so many different people across departments, and the company culture is great. Hybrid working is a rare find for an intern, and I definitely appreciate it. There’s so many positives about working here, I would 100% recommend the experience to other students. 

    What do most look forward to in the coming weeks at VoxSmart? 

    There are a couple of projects that should be coming to a close soon, so I’m looking forward to seeing the end result of the teams’ efforts. We also were joined by our new CMO recently so I’m looking froward to working with her and seeing what she has planned for the future, there’s a lot of positive change to come!  

    What is life like at VoxSmart? 

    It’s definitely exciting! VoxSmart is still a young company which means change is frequent and new people are always joining. It’s quite busy but in a good way – there’s always something to do. Working as part of a global team is really interesting, you get to meet people from such different walks of life and cultures!  

    Sum up your experience so far in three words. 

    Challenging, Engaging, Wide-ranging. 

    –  

    VoxSmart are proud champions of learning and development across all levels of tenure, striving to provide employees with the tools and resources needed to grow and flourish within the company. We are delighted to have Ella on board and see the great work which she is carrying out daily.  

    If you are interested in a career with VoxSmart why not check out our current availabilities here! 

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    VoxSmart: From start-up to The Sunday Times 100

    VoxSmart: From start-up to The Sunday Times 100

    11 years has passed since the inception of VoxSmart as we know today. Although 11 years may not seem like a lot, in this time lot has changed within the company. From awards to acquisitions the road to The Sunday Times 100 was anything but easy, yet we got there and are thankful for this journey.  

    In looking forward to the future often looking to the past reminds us of just how far the VoxSmart vision has come, in this blog we take a look over the last 11 years focusing on the tech, the talent and the turning points in the history of VoxSmart.  

    The tech. 

    In the modern era technology is aways adapting and evolving, enhancing current technology offerings and paving the way for future advancements. For companies such as ourselves, staying stagnant when it comes to technology is never an option as there will always be improvements to be made.  

    Having started with Mobile Capture, we have expanded our product suite over the years with cutting-edge technology – both developed in house and through a number of key acquisitions. In 2019, VoxSmart acquired the Spanish firm Fonetic which specialised in voice and text communication analysis, as well as automated Trade Reconstruction. Seeing great potential in the technology for compliance and risk management, the firm was a great fit to bolster our product offering and open new opportunities.  

    More recently in September of 2021, the acquisition of GreenKey’s natural language processing technology strengthened our voice recognition technology and allowed us to explore how we can add value in other areas of a business. Using NLP technology firms can now leverage trade communications to ensure trade opportunities are not lost amongst the noise of the trading floors, enhancing revenue potential of a given firm.  

    Across our product suite we are incredibly proud to say that each technological solution we provide is accredited with leading industry awards including Best Trade Reconstruction solution by the TradingTech Insight, from A-Team Insight, AIFinTech 100 by FinTech Global and Wealth and Finance 2021.  

    The talent. 

    Growing from a team of 10 to over 160 in a few short years is no easy feat but what has always been important to the company is ensuring that the talent we take on suit and carry forward the culture which we have proudly built from day one. Throwing the book on hiring out – we chose not to hire on CV but we hire those with passion and market knowledge and a willingness to learn along the journey.  

    As our Group Chief Operating Officer, Adrienne Muir put in a recent article with The Financial TechnologistThe future at VoxSmart is as bright as those working within the business.  We continue to see a strong talent entering and push internal teams to improve as we grow”. Referring to our internal talent as “the secret sauce in what we do” our success is down to the hard work and dedication of each member to keep the cogs moving on our growth trajectory and continued prosperity.  

    The turning points.  

    Everything the team has accomplished over the years has brought VoxSmart to where it is today however some stand out moments excelled our cause and mission.  

    In the midst of a global pandemic we successfully secured a $25 Million Growth Equity financing round to expand our multi-award-winning communications surveillance technology suite. The lead investor in this funding round was multi asset fund management firm Toscafund Asset Management LLP and was one of the largest fundraises conducted for the RegTech and Compliance sector with negotiations taking place entirely online. This follows on from investment from UK Investment Manager Deepbridge Capital who have been a longstanding supporter of the VoxSmart vision. Both investments enabled VoxSmart to expand headcount within the company but it also paved the way for the acquisition of GreenKey’s Natural Language Processing technology.  

    Some other standout moments throughout the years have come from the privilege of being awarded and accredited by leading organisations for our solutions. As previously mentioned, VoxSmart has featured in the AIFinTech 100 2022, RegTech 100 2022 and been awarded Best Trade Reconstruction Solution by TradingTech Insight Awards Europe 2022 by the A-Team Group. Although awards are secondary to our mission it is always an honour to be recognised for the work in which we do.  

     

    Featuring on as part of The Sunday Times 100 is one such honour that is not lost on the team here at VoxSmart. We look forward to the future with the same drive and dedication to transforming the way in which firms monitor communications. With great things in the pipeline for the coming months we are excited to share our continued growth and progression – watch this space!  

    VoxSmart included in Wealth and Finance FinTech Awards for 2022

    VoxSmart included in Wealth and Finance FinTech Awards for 2022

    VoxSmart has been selected by Wealth & Finance International Magazine as part of their annual FinTech Awards as the Best Business Communications Data Capturing Company 2022. The awards acknowledge companies who have worked hard in striving to give their clients the best service and products 

    In its sixth year, Wealth & Finance magazine’s FinTech Awards was launched to recognise the firms that are redefining finance and banking for the modern age, and for the ever-changing modern consumer. While many industry accolades come down to public vote or paid features, Wealth & Finance International use a team of professional researchers and an independent judge to decide on the worthy winners. 

    VoxSmart have been awarded Best Business Communications Data Capturing Company 2022 on grounds of proven accuracy in lowering business risks and meeting regulatory requirements. VoxSmart’s second acknowledgement from Wealth and Finance International, this excellence award serves to consolidate our industry focused solutions to the fore of innovation and the cutting-edge.  

    On the contrary to a public vote, winners are chosen by a combination of votes gathered from the extensive Wealth & Finance network of respected industry partners, rigorous in-house research and an independent senior judge who makes the ultimate decision. 

    We are delighted and honoured to be recognised and look forward to continuing our efforts to solve industry issues and empower firms to communicate with confident across channels.  

    Access the winners supplement here 

    About Wealth and Finance International 

    Wealth & Finance International is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting. Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region. 

    VoxSmart welcomes new faces to the C-Suite

    VoxSmart welcomes new faces to the C-Suite

    LONDON/NEW YORK/MADRID, 26th July 2022 – VoxSmart Ltd., a global leader in communications surveillance, has announced the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Robert Forrest, and a Chief Marketing Officer, Morgan Martins.  

    Forrest gained invaluable experience in finance leadership positions with AirBnB and Salesforce, helping to rapidly scale both businesses during crucial periods of growth.  He joins from global tech leader Softonic in Barcelona where he will continue to be based while frequently travelling to VoxSmart’s global offices in London, Madrid, New York, and Queenstown.  

    Martins, joins from cybersecurity firm Confiant Inc, where she held the post of Head of Marketing. She comes with more than 20 years’ experience in delivering innovative integrated marketing programs for both start-ups and global enterprises. She will be based out of the New York office.  

    The appointments have been made during a sustained period of global expansion for VoxSmart, after opening several international offices in the last year, including in New York, Melbourne, and Queenstown. This also represents a shift to a globally dispersed management team, with senior leadership now based in Europe, North America, and APAC.   

    Robert Forrest, Chief Financial Officer, VoxSmart: “The potential for value creation and international growth at VoxSmart is tremendous. From the moment that I met them, I instantly bought into the vision that Oliver and the rest of the senior leadership team have for VoxSmart. I am joining at a perfect time where I can leverage my experience to help the business to scale effectively on a solid platform that is already in place.”  

    Morgan Martins, Chief Marketing Officer, VoxSmart: “The way that surveillance technology is utilised and perceived by the wider market is at a crossroads. I am already relishing the chance to bring my storytelling experience to a firm who have such a strong story to tell. The global reach of the business, combined with VoxSmart’s position as one of the rising stars of RegTech, combined to make this a unique opportunity.”  

    Oliver Blower, CEO of VoxSmart: “The industry is at a point of reckoning when it comes to how it responds to increasing pressure from global regulators to ensure effective risk management and supervision. In this period of economic turbulence, Bob’s background in helping technology companies to rapidly scale, combined with Morgan’s rich marketing knowledge and storytelling skills, are going to be central to helping our business to reach the next stage in its development.”   

    These new hires mark another stage in the continued rapid growth of VoxSmart over the last 18 months, a period that has seen a $25 million investment from Toscafund, as well as a high-profile acquisition of GreenKey Technologies which expanded the firm’s NLP capabilities.  

    About VoxSmart 

    VoxSmart Ltd. is a global communications surveillance provider with offices in New York, London, Singapore, Madrid, Queenstown and Melbourne. VoxSmart designs, develops, and deploys cloud-based communications surveillance technology for global financial institutions to manage their business risks and regulatory requirements. Its rapidly evolving technology, with proven accuracy in financial voice transcription and real-time instant message capture, supports over 100 clients with regulatory requirements to monitor and reconstruct all trade communications from voice, mobile, email and chat.  

    VoxSmart has unparalleled expertise in unstructured data processing and indexing for complex technology environments and believes that by harnessing this data, a business will build a strong foundation for intelligent risk and control analysis. VoxSmart’s goal is to become the global reference for risk and compliance surveillance technology and offer end-to-end conduct and employee monitoring that connects a firm’s people, processes, and technology to drive significant operational efficiencies and enable smarter business decisions.