Risky business: Corlytics CEO on leadership in regtech

9 May 2018

John Byrne, Corlytics founder and CEO. Image: Corlytics

John Byrne outlines the impact of regulatory risk on the financial services sector, and how Corlytics can eliminate some of these dangers.

John Byrne is founder and CEO of Corlytics, a global leader in determining regulatory risk impact.

Byrne attended Stanford Graduate School of Business and has a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering.

Future Human

He is a serial entrepreneur in the fintech sector, having built and sold several global technology-based enterprises.

Siliconrepublic.com spoke to Byrne last year about regtech and the many risks facing the financial services sector.

‘Entrepreneurs will always see opportunities where clients are baffled by something’

Describe your role and what you do.

We look at regulation as a risk on a global basis. My role as CEO is to set the vision and direction for the company.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

It’s a challenge, as anyone running a scale-up company will tell you. Corlytics is undergoing rapid international growth, so there are lots of conflicting demands on my time. I try to divide it between investors, clients and sales teams internally; and working with industry bodies setting global standards and speaking at events.

I have a brilliant team to help keep me organised. I am either in Dublin, London, Sydney or New York, so I am always on top of my flight schedule. My weeks are filled mostly with meetings or events.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

A lack of machine-readable regulation information. I’m extremely proud that we have made more inroads than any other firm in this area by developing the first intelligent handbook with the UK’s financial regulator, the FCA. This enables regulators and firms to automate regulatory change using artificial intelligence.

We are also working on setting global standards in the industry and are modelling benchmark data that will help change this.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Opportunities exist throughout the financial services industry, starting with regulators. Understanding regulatory risk impact presents huge opportunities across global banks, particularly large banks and increasingly with large asset managers and insurance firms. Along the way, we are shaking up the absorption and understanding of legal documents, which has many applications.

John Byrne

John Byrne. Image: Corlytics

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I have 20-plus years in the fintech world. I’ve seen institutions struggling to look at regulation as a risk, and regulatory fines are growing exponentially. Entrepreneurs will always see opportunities where clients are baffled by something. Today’s regulatory challenge is truly baffling.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I learned about the importance of culture and people far too late in my business career. I should have done executive education earlier.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Acknowledge their successes. Recognise their achievements. Play a part in their development and career path. Corlytics has just launched an internship programme – many team members joined Corlytics as interns. Each and every one has blossomed and has been rewarded for their contribution to the company. Professional development and continuous learning are encouraged right across the organisation at all levels, from interns to the board.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and other demographics. Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector? What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to be more inclusive?

We work hard on this. A lack of diversity is a real problem. Companies such as ours, that are fast-moving and grappling simultaneously with multiple disciplines, need diversity to power the delivery of creativity quickly. Innovation comes from diversity. I genuinely believe that those firms with diversity challenges cannot innovate. In our team, we speak 11 languages. We have almost a 50:50 gender split, not forgetting diverse educational and professional backgrounds spanning quant, legal, banking and technology.

Who is your role model and why?

Mike Bloomberg. He is a global entrepreneur and has a strong sense of social responsibility. I respect and admire that.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I love a good book. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore still stands out. But I do enjoy Dilbert!

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Sense of humour. I also try to stick to a limited number of meetings per week. A well-planned calendar helps me stay focused.

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