Encompass Corporation: executing UK legal sector growth plans

Last week, Australian commercial data aggregator Encompass Corporation announced the appointment of the former CEO of the UK Asset Based Finance Association, Kate Sharp, as an industry advisor. Understandably the appointment didn’t particularly resonate within the legal sector, but behind the headline, the company is busy executing its plans for significant expansion into the UK legal and financial services verticals. 

Encompass, which draws together multiple sources of data about individuals, companies and properties within a visual online platform, is expanding its Glasgow back office from around 20 to 40 people over the next 12 months. 

Other new UK hires include former Equifax product manager Graeme Port, now a senior data product manager, who joined Encompass in April 2016, and Natasha Miller, formerly a product manager at Workshare, who joined Encompass’s London office in February as a product manager for professional services. In February this year, legal consultant Chris Bull was appointed as industry adviser to help accelerate Encompass’s UK growth – Bull’s career history includes chief operating officer for Europe and the Americas at legal outsourcer Integreon and board member roles at UK top 30 law firm Osborne Clarke.

The hires follow the announcement in April 2015 that the Encompass platform is now on general release across the UK, targeted at the insolvency and restructuring sectors. 

This formal UK launch followed a pilot involving law firms such as Freeths and accounting firms, and Encompass has developed a close partnership with R3, the association of insolvency professionals. Eventually, the ambition is to service any sector where an adviser needs to know the history of the parties they are dealing with, such as asset finance.

Encompass’ co-founder and global financial sales director Roger Carson told Legal IT Insider: “We spent a lot of time getting to know the market and now we’re getting the right people.” 

Going back one step further, Encompass’s entry into the UK was funded by a deal with listed Australian risk management company SAI Global, which has a market cap of AUS$775m. In 2014 the pair agreed a deal that gives SAI Global exclusive, perpetual rights to use Encompass in Australia. At the time of the deal, Encompass said it would use the money to move into the UK.

Interestingly, Carson’s move into the data business in the first place four and a half years ago was sparked by a lack of planning in a property deal gone very badly wrong. 

He says: “If we had known the background of the people we’d been dealing with I would never have gone ahead. So this is therapy as much as anything else.”