Lopes Attorneys partner with DocFox to ensure
complete FICA compliance
Lopes Attorneys Inc. was established to provide cutting-edge and cost-effective legal services within South Africa and across the African continent. Despite being a relatively new firm, they have advised some impressive local and multinational clients in various fields, ranging from animal welfare all the way through to financial service regulations. The firm is making big waves in the industry by being shortlisted for the African Legal Awards within the first six months of starting operations.
From the inception of the business, it was said that there will never be a compromise on compliance. Based on the firm’s holistic, creative, and cutting-edge approach to doing things and their promise of offering pioneering solutions, it is no surprise they chose DocFox as their FICA compliance partner.
We spoke to Rui Lopes (Managing Director) and Cathy van der Nest (Client Relations and Compliance Liaison), at Lopes Attorneys, about how DocFox has enhanced the firm’s FICA process and changed the way they onboard their clients.
Why Lopes Attorneys chose DocFox:
Ensure compliance while not getting distracted from core business
Lopes Attorneys don’t believe in taking any shortcuts when it comes to compliance it is a non-negotiable. They believe that taking compliance seriously will ultimately instill confidence in their clients and so, when it comes to FICA compliance they were set on having a system that was reputable and reliable. Rui explains, “I came from a large corporate firm that actually used DocFox and that’s where I learnt about DocFox. I have a fantastic relationship with the personal assistants and support staff at the big firm and they too were saying that it’s a pleasure to use DocFox, and that it’s so much easier to onboard clients and use it to do whatever we need to do. It is for this reason that even before officially opening the firm we had already purchased and set up DocFox. There was never a question whether we should use it or not, it was always that we are going to use it.”
Expanding on this, Cathy explained that when it comes to verification checks & media checks, she did it manually at her previous firm and would often battle to make time for it, but now it is as simple as just capturing the information on to DocFox and she knows “it will get done and will be even more accurate”.
Rui supports this by saying “Using DocFox frees up our capacity, which means we have more time for our clients, so we don’t need to sit on Google and type in every permutation. DocFox is doing it for us now.”
In addition when referencing DocFox’s FICA in a Box and how it has reduced their compliance burden, Rui made special reference to:
The Risk Management Compliance Programme (RMCP) template
That saved them hours of drafting an RMCP from scratch and also aided in addressing key FICA requirements and enhancing their risk rating processes. Rui elaborated by stating, “You might as well go and publish a thesis and become a doctor, because that’s how long it will take you to actually compile one from scratch. The last thing you want to be doing is spending 7 days creating an RMCP. What’s recently come out with the FIC’s investigation is many law firms don’t actually have an RMCP, so getting that in place was important for us before onboarding any clients”.
The added benefit of FICA awareness training
Rui comments, “We have an obligation as compliance officers to train our staff.” He continues to explain the ease with which he can reach out to the DocFox team to ensure his staff receives the necessary training in order to guarantee they fully understand the FIC Act. “You get a certificate at the end of the training and we put it into our compliance file as evidence of training by an independent 3rd party.”
The ability to simplify and streamline the onboarding and monitoring of clients.
DocFox compares data across documents, third party data sources, and profiles, Rui adds, “it allows you to automatically cross check all the information that has been provided in a manner that we would never be able to do in a manual way. With the manual approach we would have to go into a platform and type in the ID number. Whereas now all we need to do is upload it onto the DocFox platform – we’re getting an array of information and feedback and the reality is we just don’t have the time.
It takes you minutes on DocFox, you’ve got everything, boom, you send out your onboarding emails and you start checking compliance as and when it comes through. It’s so seamless.” Rui adds to this by saying, “It’s so nice to be able to sleep at night knowing that when everything is on DocFox and everything is approved – there’s that constant monitoring and adverse media checks that if something were to come up, we would be the first to know.”
Enables the onboarding of clients efficiently & professionally
As with any business, Lopes Attorneys are constrained by time and have a certain amount of tasks that have to get done in a day. Adding the manual onboarding of clients and dealing with FICA compliance to the mix only adds to those constraints, which is why they chose to automate their FICA process with DocFox. “The automated nature of DocFox allows us to seamlessly comply with FICA and ensures that FICA is sorted and that we don’t need to stress about it. It’s amazing what you can do with it. DocFox handles everything and you can focus your time on things that are going to be revenue generating, because admin is not revenue generating. When onboarding time is free’d up, it becomes streamlined, it becomes very profitable.”
“The more automated it is, the easier it is for everybody” Rui Lopes
Rui adds that law firms need to consider how they keep up with the times. He states that, “Law is notoriously an ‘old fashioned industry’ and the reality is what’s going to keep law firms afloat and ahead of the game is keeping pace with technological developments and this is it. DocFox is the frontier. Our slogan is #thenewfrontieroflaw and this is the new frontier of law and law firms.”
A flexible and easy to use tool, that is reliable and trustworthy
With DocFox, fulfilling your firm’s FICA obligations is simple. Although the process is automated so that firms like Lopes Attorneys can make better informed decisions in a fraction of the time, the software is also very flexible and easy to use – there is no need to be technically advanced.
Elaborating the simplicity and ease of using DocFox, Rui explains, “From something as simple as a verification check on an ID number, it’s so beautifully presented and that for me is the most awesome part – it’s such a nice interface and so helpful when it says “hold on the ID doc you sent isn’t matching the name of the person or the name of the person isn’t matching the ID number”, “Consider that this ID document isn’t legitimate – the coat of arms isn’t clearly visible. It really brings up all of these issues and so for this reason we can say it’s money well spent.”
When asked about their feelings towards a FIC inspection, Rui responded: “The FIC can come through, we have everything in order. We wouldn’t have felt this way prior to DocFox. We would’ve had that feeling at the back of our minds saying ‘what if we missed something’ and at least with DocFox we know, we are in comfort.”
Final words of wisdom
Rui concluded with some words of wisdom for law firms that are unsure if automating their FICA process is the right way to go , “As a law firm and as officers of the court we have a duty to uphold the law and uphold the constitution. In upholding the law we need to realise that we as attorneys and law firms are a target for illicit activity. In acknowledging that, people need to ask themselves, how best do we manage that risk and how best do we ensure that we are compliant. The reality is if you don’t automate that process using 3rd party verification sources, it’s going to be very difficult for you to do that and if you add it up in reality DocFox kind of pays for itself, because the capacity that you’ve freed up you can work back. So it’s a win win, because you automated it, you can rely on it.”
Cathy van der Nest
Client Relations and Compliance Liaison