Scaling your risk control systems: Reactive to proactive surveillance

Scaling your risk control systems: Reactive to proactive surveillance

When it comes to communication surveillance every firm is on a different compliance and risk journey – what one firm needs another may not, depending on respective fields, regulatory requirements and the size of the enterprise. The technology to capture and monitor communications therefore also varies depending on the individual needs of the firm – with more intuitive technology needed to reap the full benefits of a more proactive approach.  

In this blog we take a look at how your firm can achieve proactive surveillance and the main blockers which you may be facing when looking to achieve this level of surveillance. But first, what do we mean by reactive and proactive surveillance?  

Reactive Surveillance 

Most companies who are responding to their basic mandatory regulatory requirements and are aware and concerned about responding adequately to these requests, fall into this category. The priority for these firms is responding to past and present threats inside communications, rather than anticipating future compliance risks from monitored or unmonitored channels. Firms within this phase will more than likely actively record and store communications across the necessary channels and conduct forensic investigations after a regulatory request or whistleblowing event.  

Additionally, some ad-hoc surveillance or sampling may be conducted when taking a reactive approach to surveillance. This approach, although providing firms with the necessary safeguards when it comes to regulatory requests, fails to capitalise on the value which a more proactive approach to surveillance can provide.  

Proactive Surveillance 

Proactive surveillance provides firms with an additional level of security when it comes to anticipating future dangers. Firms falling into this category will regularly monitor communications and have the appropriate management and controls in place to further strengthen security and compliance risk. Alerts will be tailored and designed to meet the needs of the organisation and will benefit from the enhanced overview which this provides – streamlining processes and saving time, money and physical resources.  

Although this level of security has many benefits it is often difficult to achieve. Below are just some of the main obstacles you may face in progressing to proactive surveillance. 


In the current macroeconomic climate, everyone is feeling the pinch, this is no different for many firms who seek solutions to bolster and strengthen their control systems. When it comes to this feat, ensuring you are getting the most bang for your buck is important whilst fulfilling your firm’s needs.  


Implementing and rolling out new controls takes not only money but also time. Finding time to execute a new surveillance system can put your firm under increased pressure and for this reason you may be deterred from doing so. However, with the right provider this need not be the case! 


Often firms prioritise money making efforts over surveillance systems – however having a communication surveillance solution in place not only leaves firms regulator ready but provides further safeguards when it comes to revenue protection.  

Top Tips for achieving proactive surveillance 

Achieving proactive surveillance can be challenging for firms so to get you started here are 5 tips to get you started on your journey to proactive surveillance!  

  1. Review your needs

Take time to assess what degree and level of surveillance your firm actually needs. For smaller firms with just a few team members perhaps reactive surveillance functions adequately and no further surveillance measures are needed.  

  1. Assess your funds

As previously mentioned, budget plays a leading role in impeding surveillance system updates. If you’re looking to upgrade and expand your surveillance measures you should carefully assess funds available and seek a solution which provides the best value for money.  

  1. Find a provider

In addition to getting the most bang for your buck you should seek a provider with a proven track record and accreditations. Find a solution provider you can trust and one which will work with you to help achieve your goals and meet your requirements.  

  1. Understand the technology

Having advanced technology is great, however not knowing how the technology works makes for a poor investment. Seek a provider who provides you with in-depth insight into how the technology works and the confidence to use this technology with ease.  

  1. Conduct regular checks

Internal checks of your control system and technology must be undertaken regularly to ensure the solution is functioning as it should. Not only will this provide you with added reassure of compliance, but it will also inform you of further regulatory needs should gaps appear.  


We are aware of the obstacles and challenges firms face when it comes to enhancing surveillance systems with many of our employees having worked as traders, on compliance teams and in both front and back offices. We aim to provide cost effective solutions, in a timely manner with seamless integration to current controls in place to streamline regulatory requests.  

Whether your firm is reactive or proactive in your approach to monitoring trade communications we can help your firm improve and adapt to meet the growing expectation of regulatory authorities and provide the safeguards to submit regulatory request with confidence and ease.  

Get in touch with our team today to discover how we can equip you firm with the technology to meet you regulatory compliance needs!

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Tremendous benefit to proactive surveillance – ETW London

Tremendous benefit to proactive surveillance – ETW London

Energy Trading Week London marked a true return to live events with two jam-packed days of discussion, debate and networking. With over 800 people in attendance, including traders, compliance teams and regulatory boards there was a palpable sense of eagerness to learn and willingness to share in the challenges in which firms are currently experiencing.  

From Wednesday’s RegTech Roundtable, which featured Group CEO, Oliver Blower, some key learns and interesting insights were ascertained which further highlights the pain points and worries which organisations are experiencing across the board when it comes to ensuring regulatory compliance. 

Here are just a few:  

1. When it comes to surveillance a more proactive approach is key.  

Some of the main measures in place within participants organisations included spot checks for voice communications, email communications and SMS. While this level of surveillance meets the necessary requirements of regulators it was widely accepted that more should be done by way of proactive surveillance.  

Considering the Energy trading sector was not mandated to monitor and report trade communications until 2015 this may explain why monitoring and surveillance efforts are less mature in comparison to financial markets. Yet “there is tremendous benefit to proactive compliance” according to CEO, Oliver Blower as through proactive surveillance firms should be able to detect issues before the point of escalation.  

The current age of hybrid work environments has brought about a paradigm shift in open outcry trading. With WhatsApp now the de facto communication channel globally, a proactive approach to surveilling such a channel not only provides firms with the assurance of regulatory compliance but also encourages traders to communicate with confidence to clients over a platform of convenience to both parties.  

2. The benefits of RegTech far exceed regulatory compliance 

This verdict was unanimous amongst participants – Yes, there are many benefits to utilising RegTech for more than just regulatory compliance! For instance, one company that used communications surveillance over fears regarding how they as a company were talking to their clients.  

What’s more, many were of the opinion that traders were now more open to communication monitoring as there was greater acceptance of the technology as a tool to protect. Communication surveillance is not to be viewed as an impediment to trade, but as a safety net for traders to prove innocence or that no wrongdoing occurred.  

The holy grail is in the context! Communication surveillance can give context around difficult scenarios that arise. Linking communications to trades would provide multidimensional context to better understand a number of complex scenarios like spoofing or layering when sometimes proving misconduct is not so cut and dry.  

3. Firms must set-up surveillance measures when it comes to WhatsApp  

It has been a turbulent few days for financial institutions, with news breaking that Wall Street banks are to pay $1.8bn over messaging violations following the SECs ramped up measures to clamp down on non-compliance across instant messaging services such as WhatsApp. With increased regulatory pressures energy firms are against the clock when providing the relevant trade communications to auditors. 

Against the backdrop of the recent SEC fines for “widespread” and “longstanding” failures in record-keeping practices” across encrypted messaging services – the issue of surveilling WhatsApp was to the fore of participant’s minds. A show of hands reflected that around 10% were capturing WhatsApp communications.  

The audience were asked to consider how comfortable they would be should the company they are trading with be asked to provide communications involving one of their own traders. The possibility of being left on the backfoot leaves firms opened to increased risk and manual effort.  


With firms increasingly against the clock, proactive surveillance measures should be a priority for compliance teams with benefits far extending past the second line of defense.  

The need for intuitive RegTech solutions that automate and streamline these processes for firms was clear from discussion and with regulatory boards turning their attention evermore towards energy firms now is the time to discover a solution which is right for your firm.  

Get in contact with us today to discover how our solutions can help your firm on its journey to proactive surveillance across all channels of communication.  

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What you need to know about communications surveillance in energy trading

What you need to know about communications surveillance in energy trading

How to approach communications surveillance in energy trading? The 5 levels of monitoring.

Energy trading firms often use voice and eCommunications to trade a wide and complex set of products however, this activity hasn’t fallen under the direct supervision of regulators, until recently. With the implementation of MAR and Remit over the last few years, energy firms have invested in trade surveillance technology. With increased spotlight on energy markets, firms are now looking towards a wider set of monitoring tools including Communication Surveillance.  

Prior industry research suggests that, although there is still a lot of voice trading in this sector, reviewing calls is typically performed manually. Spot checks are usually carried out or deeper dive investigations happening when perhaps a trade surveillance alert occurs. Otherwise, calls are typically recorded and stored, available for compliance teams to review as and when.  

With different levels of communication monitoring and benefits to be achieved, firms must gradually increase monitoring capabilities to enhance and improve surveillance systems. VoxSmart can guide you through this process and provide an award-winning product suite, powered by state-of-the-art AI and ML technology.   

What are the 5 levels of communications monitoring? 

Communications monitoring can be broken down into 4 levels, each increasing in complexity for a more complete and comprehensive surveillance program.  

1. Call recording 

The first step to any surveillance program is to start recording, of course. However, that is where a lot of firms stop. Recording calls is a requirement under MiFID II, article 16.7.  However, we don’t see any value in just recording and storing these audio files away on a server collecting dust. They hold vital information which can be utilised not just to achieve better compliance but also to improve business processes using the insights gained from customer interaction.   

2. Listening to calls on an ad hoc basis 

The next stage is making these recordings available for compliance to review when necessary. This is otherwise known as sampling or manual sampling and has a very limited reach. While some smaller companies can make do with this method due to low call volumes, it is not an appropriate measure for larger firms or as a long-term supervisory control.  

3. Lexicon-based searches 

There is a wide variety of communications channels used by traders as part of their daily business. These include channels such as ICE chat and Bloomberg chat as well as emails and texts. Typically, these channels are authorised for use by compliance and some lexicon-based monitoring occurs across these channels. 

In some cases, lexicon searches have been able to highlight trader discussions worthy of further investigation. However, using only lexicon-based searching can result in a higher number of false positives. This is because the context is not being considered at the same time. A lot of software which centres around lexicon-only analytics do their searching across communication metadata without analysing the communication’s content. However, when both the content and metadata is analysed together, this allows for more powerful analysis and more refined alert results.   

4. Using AI to identify suspicious activity 

The adoption of AI based tools to interrogate large data sets and uncover suspicious patterns is an efficient approach. In fact, technology has evolved a lot in recent years and when applied at the right stage of the analysis process, it can produce increased levels of accuracy and detect signs of intent. This is most advanced level of communications monitoring.  

However, AI and ML technology for the trading floor should be deployed with the right approach and in the right measures. “BlackBox” AI is preventing accurate audits as outcomes generated often cannot be explained or justified which, for many firms, is increasing concerns around unknown bias and error rates.   


With regulatory pressure mounting discover how VoxSmart can help your firm face these obstacles with our award-winning Communication Surveillance solution. Voice and eComms on the one platform – it just makes sense to get in touch with our team today! 

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The Sunday Times 100: Employee Spotlight

The Sunday Times 100: Employee Spotlight

When it comes to start-up how many employees can say they’ve been there from the start? One such employee that can claim such a feat is Stuart Park our Global Product Director who joined VoxSmart at the very grass roots and has since helped build and shape The Sunday Times 100 company we see today!  

Although pinning him down for a 30 min non-product related call is near mission impossible, we somehow managed to achieve it and what came for this call highlights the journey which VoxSmart has been on over the last 11 years.  

Check it out for yourself below!  

When did you join VoxSmart and what was those initial few years like?  

I joined the in September of 2011, just before the big bang of November 2011 where the FSA (now FCA) introduced new regulations for mobile recording. This came off the back of the financial crash of 2008.  

There were two owners, two full-time employees (me being the second of those) and one contractor. We didn’t have a permanent office but what we did have was a small room in a stately home in Colchester that also functioned as a shared space. However, by 2012 met in small room in The Royal Association of Chartered Accountants on Moorgate, which I believe was a favour asked by our then CEO. In 2013 we moved into London to the 12th Floor in 30 Crown Place behind Liverpool Street station and had an office which could house 8 people maximum. 

From where we are now, with 6 global offices seems like worlds away from that small room in Colchester but here we are 11 years later! 

How has the company changed over the years? 

There’s been so many changes over the years but let me try to condense it!  

Firstly, going from 2 employees to over 160 employees are we currently stand in 11 short years in the grander scale of things has been quite the feat but it’s great to see new talent come through the doors!  

I would say perhaps the first big milestone was acquiring and onboarding out first big customers directly with thousands of end users in leading financial institutions which got the ball rolling for a lot of change to come. Shortly after we moved our offices into London, and it started to feel more established.  

2014 saw Oliver Blower join the fray and this rejuvenated the direction and vision of VoxSmart. With him having a strong financial services background it brought VoxSmart on a journey – he has spoken himself of the inefficiency of trading floors regarding mobile phone usage so the momentum this brought really scaled the business and push the vision forward.  

2015 also marked the year we launched VSmart and secured our first tier one bank after many long nights, 1am Domino pizza runs and a quick dash to New York where we were commended for our sheer passion for the product and resilience which bread the company culture which we see today.  

A few more years down the line, and a few more office moves, with the introduction of more and more talent to the team we have grown quite organically with the acquisition of Fonetic and then more recently GreenKey Technologies and our global expansion in several key financial hubs. All the while maintaining VoxSmart company culture which Group COO, Adrienne Muir and the team have worked on from the start.  

What has been a personal highlight for you in your career with VoxSmart? 

I guess what fills me with pride when I look back on those 11 years is the way in which we have remained true to our 5 pillars over the years– Resilience, Respect, Responsibility, Passion and Collaboration. Even at times when these values weren´t on paper in the early days they have always from part of what we do and where we want to go. For a small team to acquire a tier one bank up against a much bigger organisation at the time, the sheer amount of collaboration that went into that deal was immense! 

Another highlight which springs to mind is the injection of investment – initially from DeepBridge Capital and then more recently the Toscafund investment of $25 million. These added the fuel to the rocket which we see today! 

What was the most challenging thing you encountered in your years with VoxSmart? 

For any company the start-up to scale-up process is challenging – during this period of growth you must wear many different hats which isn´t always easy. Before the investment and the new talent which has since joined our team, we had to work with what we had and make that be enough was the challenge.  

Growing from 10 to 160 in a short amount of time how has the company adapted to these changes? 

Implementing the company culture and establishing those company values has really helped in navigating this growth. Adrienne Muir, since 2015 has worked tirelessly to build and develop these values which form an integral part of the company for which we are today. The support from the business, especially throughout the pandemic, really showed the company’s commitment to these values and how they are used throughout the business model.  

There’s also great transparency throughout the company from the C-Suite down, we all know what’s going on and what’s happening within the company. Culture really is king – finding the right people to align to that culture is not easy. 

If you could advice to anyone starting out in the company what would that be?   

Embrace the culture. Ask for help. Offer ideas and feedback from the get-go. It’s very Steve Jobs and cliché but we hire genuine people to tell us what to do, because otherwise what’s the point of bringing people in?! Embody the five pillars!  

What do you envision the next few years has instore for VoxSmart?   


From my part of the business, mobile capture, I’m looking forward to seeing what we are going to be able to achieve in relation to releasing powerful insights through embedded datasets held within recorded channels such as Voice and Instant Messaging to help business to continue to make better business decisions. It’s exciting to see the integration of our product portfolio, Comms Surveillance, Automatic Trade Reconstruction and Natural Language Processing to be able to deliver one vendor ecosystem to service our global customers.    


Stuart embodies VoxSmart’s company culture and forms an integral part of VoxSmart’s core foundation. From day 1 to The Sunday Times 100 he has seen it all and continues with the same passion and commitment to ensure VoxSmart’s continued success.  

If you are interested in joining the VoxSmart team, then check out our current available positions here!  

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    Graduate Blog Series: Marketing Intern Edition.

    Graduate Blog Series: Marketing Intern Edition.

    Switching things up with our latest instalment of our graduate series, we bring you our intern edition! Meet Ella who joins us this summer as part of our Marketing team. Ella is a current student of Mathematics at the University of Liverpool! 

    The boba tea connoisseur has been an active member of the marketing team for the last two months and has dived into every project with the same enthusiasm and drive! See what she has to say about her experience with VoxSmart below ↓   

    Name: Ella Hardiman 

    Age:  19 

    Degree: Mathematics 

    Role: Business Intern 

    Tell us about your role as part of the team at VoxSmart 

    I work in the marketing department here at VoxSmart, with the majority of what I do being pitching in on other people’s projects to help them move along a bit quicker. I tend to focus on internal correspondence in these projects, mainly when multiple teams are collaborating on something, which means I get to meet pretty much everyone! 

    I’m also working on an individual projects that lasts me most of the summer, something to build on that is a bit more creative focused such as generating blogs, social posts and interviews. This year, I’ve been working on inhouse communications, building a couple of different resources to allow all our teams to convey information to each other accurately and easily.  

    What do you enjoy most about working at VoxSmart? 

    It’s hard to pick just one thing. I love getting to feel like you’re making a difference; since VoxSmart is growing so rapidly, we’re constantly entering new territory, needing to create resources for new verticals in different regions. You’re not just remaking old material; you’re getting to create new material.  

    I also really like the hybrid working; having the freedom to vary your workspace is great for productivity and mental health. But if I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the team! The whole marketing team gets on great, and our morning meetings end up being personal catchups as well as debriefs. It’s great when you’ve got everyone in one place as well since our team are slightly divided geographically. And it’s not just the marketing team; the people in sales, accounts, IT, product, HR, you get to meet everyone (and they’re all great!). Team lunches and company socials keeps everyone in touch and builds great work relations. 

    What did you find the most challenging on entry into your role? 

    There was definitely an adjustment period when I first joined. Switching from 4 hours of classes a day at random intervals and weekends full of homework to a more consistent, traditional working structure combined with hybrid working took a second to get used to. There was also a bit of relearning regarding how the work is more self-motivated. That being said, now that I am used to it, it’s one of my favourite parts about working here as it gives you the freedom to be much more creative. 

    How has VoxSmart supported your personal development so far? 

    As a part of the marketing team training, I got to attend GROW London 2022. Various sessions and discussions were held discussing the future of customer privacy, sustainable company growth and tech trends. The whole event really solidified my understanding of the range of things you can do with marketing, and how it applies to almost any business-based scenario. 

    I’ve also been invited to attend various meetings and calls not related to my internship to try and get a better grasp of the company and the market it’s in. I feel like that extra level of learning has really helped me to develop both my understanding of VoxSmart, and RegTech as whole. 

    Would you recommend fellow students to partake in future VoxSmart summer internships? 

    Definitely. It’s really great, there’s always something to work on that’s both challenging and engaging. You get to meet so many different people across departments, and the company culture is great. Hybrid working is a rare find for an intern, and I definitely appreciate it. There’s so many positives about working here, I would 100% recommend the experience to other students. 

    What do most look forward to in the coming weeks at VoxSmart? 

    There are a couple of projects that should be coming to a close soon, so I’m looking forward to seeing the end result of the teams’ efforts. We also were joined by our new CMO recently so I’m looking froward to working with her and seeing what she has planned for the future, there’s a lot of positive change to come!  

    What is life like at VoxSmart? 

    It’s definitely exciting! VoxSmart is still a young company which means change is frequent and new people are always joining. It’s quite busy but in a good way – there’s always something to do. Working as part of a global team is really interesting, you get to meet people from such different walks of life and cultures!  

    Sum up your experience so far in three words. 

    Challenging, Engaging, Wide-ranging. 


    VoxSmart are proud champions of learning and development across all levels of tenure, striving to provide employees with the tools and resources needed to grow and flourish within the company. We are delighted to have Ella on board and see the great work which she is carrying out daily.  

    If you are interested in a career with VoxSmart why not check out our current availabilities here! 

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    VoxSmart: From start-up to The Sunday Times 100

    VoxSmart: From start-up to The Sunday Times 100

    11 years has passed since the inception of VoxSmart as we know today. Although 11 years may not seem like a lot, in this time lot has changed within the company. From awards to acquisitions the road to The Sunday Times 100 was anything but easy, yet we got there and are thankful for this journey.  

    In looking forward to the future often looking to the past reminds us of just how far the VoxSmart vision has come, in this blog we take a look over the last 11 years focusing on the tech, the talent and the turning points in the history of VoxSmart.  

    The tech. 

    In the modern era technology is aways adapting and evolving, enhancing current technology offerings and paving the way for future advancements. For companies such as ourselves, staying stagnant when it comes to technology is never an option as there will always be improvements to be made.  

    Having started with Mobile Capture, we have expanded our product suite over the years with cutting-edge technology – both developed in house and through a number of key acquisitions. In 2019, VoxSmart acquired the Spanish firm Fonetic which specialised in voice and text communication analysis, as well as automated Trade Reconstruction. Seeing great potential in the technology for compliance and risk management, the firm was a great fit to bolster our product offering and open new opportunities.  

    More recently in September of 2021, the acquisition of GreenKey’s natural language processing technology strengthened our voice recognition technology and allowed us to explore how we can add value in other areas of a business. Using NLP technology firms can now leverage trade communications to ensure trade opportunities are not lost amongst the noise of the trading floors, enhancing revenue potential of a given firm.  

    Across our product suite we are incredibly proud to say that each technological solution we provide is accredited with leading industry awards including Best Trade Reconstruction solution by the TradingTech Insight, from A-Team Insight, AIFinTech 100 by FinTech Global and Wealth and Finance 2021.  

    The talent. 

    Growing from a team of 10 to over 160 in a few short years is no easy feat but what has always been important to the company is ensuring that the talent we take on suit and carry forward the culture which we have proudly built from day one. Throwing the book on hiring out – we chose not to hire on CV but we hire those with passion and market knowledge and a willingness to learn along the journey.  

    As our Group Chief Operating Officer, Adrienne Muir put in a recent article with The Financial TechnologistThe future at VoxSmart is as bright as those working within the business.  We continue to see a strong talent entering and push internal teams to improve as we grow”. Referring to our internal talent as “the secret sauce in what we do” our success is down to the hard work and dedication of each member to keep the cogs moving on our growth trajectory and continued prosperity.  

    The turning points.  

    Everything the team has accomplished over the years has brought VoxSmart to where it is today however some stand out moments excelled our cause and mission.  

    In the midst of a global pandemic we successfully secured a $25 Million Growth Equity financing round to expand our multi-award-winning communications surveillance technology suite. The lead investor in this funding round was multi asset fund management firm Toscafund Asset Management LLP and was one of the largest fundraises conducted for the RegTech and Compliance sector with negotiations taking place entirely online. This follows on from investment from UK Investment Manager Deepbridge Capital who have been a longstanding supporter of the VoxSmart vision. Both investments enabled VoxSmart to expand headcount within the company but it also paved the way for the acquisition of GreenKey’s Natural Language Processing technology.  

    Some other standout moments throughout the years have come from the privilege of being awarded and accredited by leading organisations for our solutions. As previously mentioned, VoxSmart has featured in the AIFinTech 100 2022, RegTech 100 2022 and been awarded Best Trade Reconstruction Solution by TradingTech Insight Awards Europe 2022 by the A-Team Group. Although awards are secondary to our mission it is always an honour to be recognised for the work in which we do.  


    Featuring on as part of The Sunday Times 100 is one such honour that is not lost on the team here at VoxSmart. We look forward to the future with the same drive and dedication to transforming the way in which firms monitor communications. With great things in the pipeline for the coming months we are excited to share our continued growth and progression – watch this space!