Risk at GoCardless: A conversation with Chief Risk Officer, Erez Mathan
Last editedJan 20204 min read
Erez Mathan takes a different approach to risk. At GoCardless, Risk is a core function, which not only provides the business with the safety net to operate but is also fundamental to its growth.
When you think of risk organisations within financial services, you’d be forgiven for thinking about long conversations with your bank manager, or cumbersome forms that take hours of your time to fill in.
This is because risk has traditionally been viewed as a box that regulated businesses have to tick.
For GoCardless’ Chief Risk Officer (CRO), Erez Mathan, this approach has a profound impact on the effectiveness of risk management. He says:
What makes risk at GoCardless different?
Erez sees risk differently – not as a box that needs to be ticked but as an exciting commercial function that can help GoCardless achieve its goals more quickly, without undue exposure to risk. He says:
This mission is split into different initiatives that build on how risk organisations have been structured up until now, with a commercial twist. He explains:
The second part of the mission, and where Erez says it starts to get really exciting, refers to the things we do on top of the 'protect' part that the Risk team does to help GoCardless grow and achieve its commercial goals.
These components are underpinned by a clear set of operating principles that are very different from those you might see in a less progressive Risk team – we don’t do box-ticking, hide in our corner in the office or employ an army of naysayers. In all we do in risk, we aim to:
Be ready to serve everyone, if we wanted to - We ensure Risk does not constrain the business but unlocks the potential to serve everyone and achieve our goals while providing the business with a safety net.
Automate everything we do - We don’t like inefficiencies and believe real risk mitigation cannot be achieved by throwing people at the problem.
Create the best possible customer experience - We want our customers (both internal and external) to actively want to go through our processes. We believe that designing risk processes around the customer ultimately leads to better risk management.
Risk as intellectual property
Part of this includes thinking about how the Risk team can improve the onboarding and verification process for businesses signing up to GoCardless. Erez explains:
Risk as a feature
Another way in which the Risk team drives GoCardless’ growth is with our rapid expansion into different markets around the world. The recent addition of US payments took the number of countries in GoCardless’ payments network to 30 – this includes eight bank debit schemes, each of which has its own rules and regulations.
Erez also believes that risk should be forward looking. He believes that legal and compliance teams can have a role in unlocking new opportunities the business wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Thoroughly understanding upcoming regulations and being prepared to adapt and use them for the benefit of our customers are a key part of that.
In one recent example, GoCardless worked closely with the Payment Systems Regulator in the UK to ensure fairer ways for businesses to switch between Direct Debit providers – without needing permission from their existing supplier.
Erez takes this approach a step further to look at how risk mitigation can be done so well that it doesn’t bind commercial decisions.
Risk team at GoCardless
The Risk team at GoCardless works under very different principals to traditional banks. Working together with risk owners across the business, the team look at how they can automate processes and develop new products and features that will help GoCardless achieve its goals. Erez says:
Find out more about careers in our Risk team here.