The following interview is a conversation between RealPort’s General Counsel, Sandra Kumhofer, and Pascal Haas of Intelliant, RealPort’s Data Protection Partner. Intelliant is the leading enabler of efficiency-driven and data-appreciative GRC compliance, connecting disruptive protagonists and established market leaders to create a joint future. This a part of our “In Conversation with RealPort” series.
Sandra Kumhofer: Can you please share with us your background and tell us a little about how your expertise applies within RealPort?
Pascal Haas: After completing my studies in economics and business administration, I decided to kick off my career in consulting. There, through a confluence of projects and personal interests, the topic of GRC — governance, risk and compliance — gradually became my main focus.
The protection of personal data plays a significant part in my working activities due to the increased attention to data protection, particularly with the introduction of the GDPR. Our lifeblood is working with exciting and promising FinTech companies, aiming to shape the banking of tomorrow. The real reward is the varied and challenging work that stems from the range of problems that can arise around compliance and security topics in this field.
With RealPort, this environment enables the implementation of pragmatic and flexible approaches to generating solutions. We always advise the fundamental development of interlocking management systems on related topics, such as the interaction of data protection and information security. With RealPort, we have been committed to prioritising both topics, so that the mutual and corresponding processes are implemented and pursued synchronously and with maximum leanness and agility.
How have Intelliant and RealPort been working together? At what stage did the partnership begin?
We have been working with RealPort since the conception phase of the platform. This has enabled us to ensure that both — the processes relating to the product and the development of the organisational and internal structure — have been designed with maximum awareness in dealing with the confidential and personal data of the customers.
In our role as Data Protection Officer, we accompany RealPort as a long-term mandate holder, with the goal of maintaining and improving data protection management and compliance. Here, I naturally work closely with you, Sandra, in your role as General Counsel. Due to the immense management attention and with this concentrated competence and experience in the legal, organisational and tech aspects, I see RealPort as being optimally equipped in data protection. The dynamics resulting from the growth of the product and structures in the coming years will be particularly exciting.
The integrated security management with its consideration of the interlinked topics of information security, data protection, and business continuity, will have to be adapted and further developed accordingly in the teamwork of the RealPort. All in all, I think this engagement and dedication illustrates well, the value that RealPort places on data security — but more importantly, it fosters the trust of investors, employees, supervisory authorities and other stakeholders.
Once we have established our business model within European markets, we plan to expand into additional regional arenas. How will this euro-centric basis impact RealPort and how we position ourself within new markets?
Personally, I see it as a clear advantage. GDPR has become the market standard — other jurisdictions are trying to attain these regulations. The European market is undoubtedly an important one on the global stage, especially in the digital world. RealPort will enter alternative regional markets and you will be able to state that you are aware of the local laws but you are already abiding by GDPR laws, so what more can you implement in the realm of data protection? Everyone wants to reach our European level, so starting here is definitely a benefit.
As an expert in GDPR topics, do you think that GDPR hinders innovation?
In short, I see GDPR as a good thing. Against the background of increasing digitisation and, unfortunately, the resulting cyber-crime, appropriate data protection is the order of the day. Although it takes increased effort to reach the solutions, it is necessary and it benefits everyone involved. Additionally, we are already witnessing the development of regulations that will accompany GDPR and these will make executing the required actions easier. GDPR laws are still in the process of being established and in some cases the authorities still have some decisions to make regarding it.
I do not believe that GDPR hinders innovation, instead it provides a solid structure from the outside. In the end, we are really speaking about keeping employees and customers safe, so it is in our best interest to be conscious of what it is that we are doing. However, this does not mean that we cannot be innovative.
What do you think is particularly special about the RealPort product?
Through working closely with RealPort, I have consistently seen a level of professionalism and determination in their approach to the product. We recognise a clear focus on goals, short decision-making paths and the right priorities set early on with innovative foresight. With the aforementioned management attention, even to rather annoying topics in everyday FinTech, RealPort has laid the foundation for a risk-conscious and professional organisation and has obtained certifications that one would not expect from a start-up in this phase.
This can lead to a significant competitive advantage and facilitate the further development of the organisation in the medium term, should higher regulatory requirements from partner companies or authorities become applicable in the future. With the investment platform created, a market segment is being entered which previously was reserved for established market participants and investment companies. The effort and performance required to overcome these market entry barriers as a startup should not be underestimated and further the positive effect that RealPort will brings should also be appreciated, as they create access to a new category of investors.
We would like to contribute to this important digitisation step by giving investors a feeling of security when using RealPort’s services. Personally, the aspect of sustainable investments is an important one, as I believe that the climate crisis and its associated effects is — despite the pandemic — currently the greatest challenge facing our society. Unfortunately, the financial sector has so far played too passive a role in this. Therefore, it is very welcome that RealPort takes initiative here and thus also represents the unique future viability of sustainable investments.
How do you see the collaboration evolving in the future? What do you, in particular, appreciate about RealPort and its team?
I enjoy working with such a highly motivated and fully committed team and developing such projects, which are characterised by enormous expertise bundled with such a strong product focus. As already mentioned, in my view RealPort set the right management impulses from the very beginning. Since RealPort has completely relied on a multidisciplinary, diverse team with a strong international focus, even a global pandemic could not slow down the project despite the important start-up phase. At this point, the company was already working intensively towards the launch of the investment platform in a completely digital, networked and remote manner on several continents, while maintaining appropriate security measures.
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