This was another strong financial year for The Red Flag Group®
Likewise, we won’t give enormous detail about our strategy, except to the extent that it is already publicly available and it is essential for clients and stakeholders to see whether our strategy is aligned to theirs. Despite that, we believe that it is important to outline our general approach to how we run our business. Clients, partners, employees and other stakeholders can see our performance and judge our development for themselves. We believe in corporate transparency and adopt that approach internally.
This year was a year of change – much like every year in our 13-year history. Following are notes on some of those key changes and developments.
We are a data-driven firm, not a consulting business
We don’t do third party due diligence
It is a common misconception across the industry that we do third party due diligence for our clients. Clients do third party due diligence; we don’t. What we do is provide clients with the data and technology platforms for them to conduct their ‘third party due diligence’, ‘second party due diligence’ and ‘first party due diligence’. The concept of ‘third parties’ relates back to the 1970s when due diligence on sales agents operated as ‘third party’ due diligence because of the agency-type relationships that sales agents operated under. Today, these words are not that important – it is all about knowing who you are doing business with at all levels and types within the company.
Recognition that compliance is all about good business
Since its inception, the firm’s philosophy has been to demonstrate to clients that compliance is a part of doing business. It doesn’t make sense to separate the two.
Strategic vision of the firm
This year we implemented a corporate development team to help us grow our business both directly and through partners. We identified several areas where we want to invest and grow and have engaged our Strategy and Corporate Development team to coach the business leaders on how to achieve our strategic vision. The Strategy and Corporate Development team is key to identifying new partnership opportunities and it managed our acquisition of ETHIC Intelligence®, a Paris-based certification agency in the ISO 37001 and ISO 19600 space. This is an exciting area for the firm as there is more to expect in 2019/20 with further announcements and significant partnerships that align us with known companies that complement our solutions and will significantly add value for our clients.
Acquisition of ETHIC Intelligence® adds certification capability to the group
We have typically been a build verses buy kind of company, but we felt that the ETHIC Intelligence® business was so strong that acquiring it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Our Customer Success team continues to grow
Globally, we have continued to grow our sales, marketing and customer success teams globally by adding additional resources in China, France, Spain, Germany, Poland and several cities across the United States. Having a coverage model is important to support our clients and to develop our business into new markets. We also implemented new management layers on our business development side and new leadership in our global sales team. In our firm, our global sales, marketing and customer success teams need to be more than just product experts – they need to be customer advocates and content experts. We are continually training our teams to add the value that clients should receive.
New offices expand our business into new markets
Our new offices this year included Paris and Madrid. These added to our coverage across Europe, where we continue to expand to support our growing client base. It is clear that compliance and understanding the needs of due diligence are expanding globally and the demands of clients for information and intelligence to help them make Better Decisions™ are paramount.
New products launched in 2018
We also witnessed the launch and successful sale of our hotline product, IntegraCall®. Breaking into a new market like the hotline and whistleblower space was always going to be a challenge; however, the team has built and deployed a very cool AI-driven application and case management system supported by IBM Watson technology. The launch of the first version is proving to be successful and we expect that our updated releases (due in 2019) will make this a game changer in the compliance space, especially for those mid-market companies that want a simple and effective tool that is not expensive and can be set up in minutes. The simplicity of IntegraCall® is amazing and we look to disrupt this established market this year.
Looking forward to 2019/20
We are well along our path of introducing significant changes to our business in 2019/20 with the implementation of new products aimed at the due diligence market. We are already in the alpha release phase for new products expected to launch in the second half of 2019.
One of the big changes in 2019 is the new ways to access the body of data that we have built up over 13 years of research. Our firm has invested hundreds of thousands of research hours and we have built up a substantial bank of intellectual property on private companies in the emerging markets. Every single one of these companies and people are or have been suppliers or partners of the largest companies in the world. We are working on several ways to make this data available to clients on an immediate-access basis through our platforms and through others not managed by the firm.