James Lai Meetig8

The larger a business, the greater the chance they will become bombarded with dense laws and regulations that constrain their movements, particularly when it comes to those dealing in the area of finance.

To help companies navigate their way through regulations and predict potential missteps, former Westpac risk and compliance executive manager, James Lai, has developed an online platform to help businesses find highly skilled risk compliance and audit professionals.

Looking to cut out traditional bricks and mortar recruiting services, MEETIG8’s online job marketplace provides a simplistic and cheap way for companies to hire freelance professionals.

Having worked in the risk assessment industry for well overa decade, Lai noticed that despite the contemporary digital landscape, companies were still hiring risk professionals using an outdated, declining model.

“One main issue was that the large advisory firms who companies hire from are expensive, and their very proposition is somewhat declining over time. Another is that a number of agencies out there are giving expertise to businesses without actually having the required experience,” said Lai.

“I saw the opportunity to set up a platform where we could cut out that middleman and provide a controlled quality.”

Using anon-demand approach, the online platform, which is set to launch its full version in March, allows organisations to quickly connect with professionals who MEETIG8 filters through a strict screening process.

Candidates submit their resume and then proceed to a face-to-face interview with the startup, which itself is filled with veterans of the industry.

MEETIG8 then conducts a full background check, inclusive of an employment history review and police check, to ensure the candidates are skilled enough to combat the intricacies of risk assessment work.

Lai said that particularly for larger organisations, complex regulatory issues are something that appear “across the board”.

According to the founder, both local and international corporates often run into regulatory issues when dealing with the plethora of financial compliances, with big banks such as Citibank hit with a number of fines over the last few years for breaching various measures. 

“All banks would face these kinds of issues. Often it’s most likely things like judgement errors and simple human errors from staff,“ said Lai.

“These risk and compliance professionals help organisations adhere to these regulations, and help ensure that these don’t become a problem in the future.”

To reach the screening process, Lai said MEETIG8 applicants must first have at least five years’ experience in the field, serving as a benchmark to help ensure the candidates hold the required knowledge.

Once on the platform, which Lai said operates similar to a traditional job search site, users then create their own profile by listing their experience and skills. Search categories then break up each role by industry and risk area.

Advisors can search by industry, so if you’re in financial services or oil and gas, for example. You can also search by risk category, if you’re looking for operational risk you can search for that,” said Lai.

Candidates can then submit a “pitch” for the job, comparable to a cover letter; it’s then up to the business to either hire them or conduct their own interview. Payments to the hired advisor, however, use MEETIG8 as a kind of middleman.

“The advisor submits a payment claim, which we check over and pass to the client, who can then approve it and pay. The company can then rate the advisor’s profile,” Lai said.

Much like a traditional recruiter, the startup takes a 12-15 percent fee on each hire, with Lai adding this price comes at a cheaper rate than the larger advisory firms.

Interestingly, businesses and advisors on the platform are able to end payments and work if a job is finished early, as neither are locked into strict contractual terms.

“Traditionally, big banks and so on tend to favour permanent resources, but the good times have passed. Banks are trying to get salaries and wages off their balance sheets, so they tend to do things on a contractual basis,” Lai explained.

Businesses can list jobs lasting from one week to six months, and are also able to search for advisors using search categories to discover their profiles.

Although these search categories will lend themselves to various industries at launch, Lai said the startup will be looking to predominantly target businesses and advisors in the financial sector before scaling towards other industries, considering the space’s “need” for risk and compliance work.

While the full platform isn’t yet online, Lai added that MEETIG8 is allowing both companies and advisors to sign up to the platform for free, ensuring it has a steady user base on launch.

“We soft launched in early January, and since we’ve had interest from many clients including some major banks,” he said.

According to the founder, growing the platform’s user base and giving it a chance to “kick off” will fall in line with the startup seeking funding, as it’s currently bootstrapped at this time.

Once a sizeable Australian base is established, Lai said the business will also look to expand internationally.

Image: James Lai. Source: Supplied.