thecxofortune > Armadillo
Logo 1

Leading Compliance Business in a Tech-Driven Industry

Meet Emmanuel Cohen, popular among peers and colleagues as ‘Manny’ was a young dreamer who started as a freelance company researcher in Old Street, London, and went on to lead one of the most respected RegTech companies we know as the Armadillo Group.

Emmanuel Cohen’s knowledge of mathematics, economics and his networking skills allowed him to lead Armadillo to become the first company information database to commit to web delivery and has gained international acclaim for its service.

In 2011, the company was the first to launch an app that holds data on millions of companies. In 2019, Armadillo developed the first truly global online corporate document Regtech system.

An expert in onboarding compliance, company law, and international corporate solutions, he is a regular at the worldwide conference sharing his views and guiding professionals and businesses on subjects as diverse as “Big Data and Little Data”, “The European directive on money laundering” and “Compliance in the UK”. He is a former director of ACRA in the UK and has held various key positions in industry committees.

When Armadillo was awarded a place on the Global RegTech100 listing for 2021, an elated Cohen said, “We have achieved this accolade ourselves and without any external backing, which makes it doubly sweet. Now we’re going forward to grow with this amazing industry”.

Leadership Style

Helping Manny on this success journey is a team of highly experienced and dedicated professionals.

He is known as a leader who encourages autonomy and provides ample growth opportunities to people. Several of the company directors joined the company straight from university or directly and have developed within the business. “I love watching people grow into managers and leaders themselves”, said an enthusiastic Cohen when quizzed about people.

He honed his leadership skills as an officer in Britain’s Royal Air Force reserve; a training branch whose pioneering leadership training was used for many years for business management training.

“I treat my staff as my family team. We all push together to succeed and we give them as much personal support as we can. I like management to tell me what they think and not toe the line, everyone buys into it, so that’s how we innovate” he said.

Armadillo carried out a ‘values analysis’ recently and what constantly stood out was ‘integrity’ and ‘respect’ and that’s reflective of the culture of the organization.

Work-Life Balance

When asked about the quintessential issue of management work and family life, Cohen said, “balance is always a struggle for any entrepreneur, so it’s never easy. I didn’t want my kids to grow up and say they never saw me and I was never around. So, it was tough, but I tried to always keep close and do things with them and have a great relationship with them both”.

Cohen is very much a family man. He is the father of 2 wonderful kids and loves spending time with them along with Alesja his wife from his second marriage who has been his rock and soulmate for 12 years.

The elder of the siblings, Georgina, is a professional Skeleton athlete while Jamie is a Hedge fund operations manager and heading to Oxford to study for an MBA.

He loves traveling and has visited over 50 countries and covered 20 states in the US. He has camped around the Grand Canyon, hugged a redwood (as you do), skied in Colorado, and more.

Manny has loved Italy since his first holiday with Alesja at Lake Como and is already looking forward to his next big holiday for which he has arranged a chalet in Finland to enjoy the northern lights.

Typical Workdays And Unwinding

A tech CEO has to be tech-savvy too and Emmanuel Cohen is no different. His cell phone is where his world begins and is his mobile office.

His typical workday is full of meetings especially now when they are in fundraising mode. The rest of the day is interspersed with overseeing implementations, other decisions, and overcoming challenges.

When it comes to leisure and unwinding, Emmanuel likes reading and listening to lots of news; he is an avid social media user too. He loves to dine out, go to the theatre and cinema, and hang out with friends.

An amateur sports enthusiast, his beloved sport is Bobsleigh driving and he’s been involved with fencing too. Given his deep interest in these, he has continued his involvement with the sport and represents the UK on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

With the ancient Worshipful Company of Woolmen in the City of London, he is working to launch a charitable sustainability start-up and innovation fund. He hopes to encourage innovation and find wool-based and other sustainable materials to replace plastics and micro plastics.

Many Firsts And Other Differentiators That Keep Them Ahead

Innovation: Armadillo were the first online database of company information on the web back in 1997- a ground-breaking achievement.

Experience: Being the longest-running web-based tech business in their industry and having 3 regulated businesses within the group has helped them understand the challenges of clients.

Worldwide compliance intelligence network: Built over 20 years, they can source original registry documents on any company in the world and verification on any adult individual.

Bootstrapped Difference: They are more profitable than some highly financed competitors making the business model unique, agile and competitive.
Incorporated UK regulated law firm: They are the only RegTech and compliance business that can guarantee client confidentiality when needed due to Attorney: Client privilege.

Staff and management team: Long-term loyalists and business experts are among the pillars of the Armadillo group’s growth. In the CEO’s words “they really are a great support and a safe pair of hands in every crazy idea I have. Find me a tech business like that!! They are what got us into the Global Regtech 100 and Global top 45 buyers’ guide”.

No one gets bored of working at Armadillo

Just as one would expect of a fast-growing professional organization, the Armadillo group follows best practices, is mindful of culture and the well-being of employees. Employees staying for 5 years or more is the norm at Armadillo with loyalists who have been part of the organization for well over 15 years. A tradition that Armadillo is proud of in a fickle fast-moving world where every growing organization is seeking the best trained and experienced talent.

“Whilst not a startup, constant innovation gives it that feel. No one ever gets bored working at Armadillo!!” says a visibly proud Cohen.

Innovation will never stop

Cohen wants to keep innovating and wants to be the go-to place for RegTech globally and a household name in the world’s top regulated businesses.

While emphasizing the need for continuous innovation, he added, “we are working on some smart systems and processes that will truly be ground-breaking and disruptive in the industry in the coming years”.

Under Emmanuel Cohen's leadership, the company has been developing, strategizing, and enterprising for over four decades. Armadillo constantly strives to streamline, facing challenges with excitement and determination.

Emmanuel Cohen 1

Emmanuel Cohen

When asked about noteworthy challenges he had to overcome while leading the company to success, Emmanuel Cohen said, “business, in general, is always a challenge, that’s what makes it fun. I’ve been in business as an entrepreneur since I was 19 and probably the hardest problem is dealing with the economic cycles of boom and bust. Most management can run a company through boom or relative growth years, but much fewer can take them through the tough downturns and come out the other side”.

He understands that challenges are the norm when managing an innovative tech business and adds “it’s about seeing trends and calculating where to take the business in the future; to catch the wave and ride it, too far ahead and you crash out, too far behind and you miss it”.

When asked about the sudden change in business dynamics due to the pandemic and how it caught many businesses unaware he responded “the latest challenge of course is the Covid pandemic during which we have adapted and kept our team as safe as we could. Of course, being a ‘bootstrapped’ company, the greatest challenge is always cash. In all the time I’ve been in business, that challenge has never changed.

Accolades and titles

Manny and his team of innovators are leaving no stone unturned to make Armadillo a global venture. The company has been recognized regionally and internationally.
● Made it to the Global RegTech100 List of most innovative RegTech companies in 2021.
● In the Global RegTech Top 45 Buyers Guide by FinTech Global.
● Top 10 Most Innovative RegTech Solution Providers by Insight Success.

Prospects

Despite the setback in 2020 due to the pandemic, Armadillo met its projected EBITDA target riding on the back of a healthy 30% increase in sales. The RegTech industry is likely to see twofold growth; Cohen is working hard with his team to grow and consolidate Armadillo's lead position in the post-pandemic market.

Armadillo has multiple RegTech innovations slated for 2021 launch. These include products around PEPS & Sanctions, adverse media, and ID verification on some 5 billion adult individuals globally.