Staying safe when exploring new markets

Don't ignore the insider threat, or physical security, when exploring new jurisdictions, says 3e International Director Fred Finan


As companies increasingly expand their businesses into emerging markets, geopolitical and human capital concerns become more apparent. Fred Finan, Director or 3e International, gives his advice.

As companies increasingly expand their businesses into emerging markets, geopolitical and human capital concerns become more apparent, my guest Fred Finan explains how these concerns can be mitigated.

European CEO: Tell me about some of the most pervasive issues that clients tell you about, when they’re breaking into emerging markets.

Fred Finan: The first issue in the current climate is IT and cyber-security, and risks and they’re quite right to raise those, but it’s a mistake to focus on those completely. You know they just form part of the whole of their business environment, which could be vulnerable to people who want to undermine that business or to misdirect it. And if you find you concentrate too much on the technical side of things, you’ll find that you’ll then leave open things like the insider threat and the physical security, and that weakness will always be exploited.

European CEO: Can you tell me, how do your clients respond to this advice?

Fred Finan: They tend to respond in two ways: they will act on it, and you’ll be an integral part of their planning process from day one. The other sort of client will bring you in on an individual project basis, to provide an assessment which performs part of their business planning process. You’ll deliver into that and you may not hear from that particular client until conclusion, however in the ideal world you want to be involved from the planning process as early as possible. It’s natural people will try to exclude you because there are costs involved or there may be other priorities, but from experience it is a misplaced cost issue. You find it’s much more effective to get involved with a security company like ours, in the planning process as early as possible.

European CEO: Now, you also provide in depth intelligence for clients who are looking to make a major financial transaction such as an M&A, could you tell me about some of the advice that you offer in those scenarios.

Fred Finan: It’s really mimicking what many of the professionals who work behind the scenes for the company did in their previous life, which is working for government agencies. And rather than a single agency they come from multi facets, military, government and policing environments and incorporate their specialisations and competencies using their experience on the ground; their practical experience and their relationships. And the critical part is it’s asking the questions to find out the unknowns and then having a plan to access that information.

European CEO: When you are dealing specifically with offshore regions, how much of an issue is fraud?

Fred Finan: The first sort of advice is to do homework first, leave it to us specialists, look at the legislation and the critical thing is reputational risk allied with the genuine risk from maybe being exposed to the law. Many people we have found are not privy to have those conversations with you, there are those who don’t have the access that they purport to have, or they have ulterior motives which is normally to defraud the client. By doing correct research, engaging, giving yourself enough time and that’s a critical component: time. Of course if people come in on a Friday afternoon, which typically happens when the telephone goes before a meeting on Monday, we will react to that but with that diminishment in time there is reduction in the availability to access information. But as soon as you start exploring into a new region, engage have a conversation, from that engagement we will then go on and formulate a plan.

European CEO: So how does a company such as yours stay ahead of the trend in the intelligence industry?

Fred Finan: The critical thing is your relationships, having good relationships wide ranging but who are known, it’s all about reputation here, reputations can be lost extremely quickly. You want to be able to go to the sources who are in the right place, the right time with the right access, you can’t have complete coverage but you got to have the capability to find those answers when you need to. And that’s an area of specialisation where we come in, where we’re looking at those gaps and know where we can go and find the people that can find those answers.