Trey Sullivan, a serial entrepreneur, is not a banker. But he certainly wants to help them.
In these post 9-11-01 days of the US Patriot Act, which has required financial institutions to monitor transactions for possible links to terrorists and terrorist-linked countries or face huge fines, they do need assistance.
And his third startup, ATTUS Technologies, is doing just that – in a big way.
Having developed software called WatchDog and GuardDog, ATTUS has deployed solutions to help banks comply with Patriot Act rules as well as compliance guidelines for the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and other regulations.
Business is booming.
More than 2,000 financial institutions now work with ATTUS. As a result, the firm reported an increase in revenues of more than 500 percent in 2002, has doubled the number of employees to 24, and has moved into new office space on Carmel Commons Boulevard in Charlotte that was twice the size of its previous location.
‘Banks are over-regulated’
“Let’s face it. Banks are over-regulated and ATTUS develops software to help them focus on their core business of managing money,” said Sullivan, a former IBM employee who started ATTUS on his own in 1998. “In my previous business experience, I saw that community banks, credit unions, securities companies and insurance companies had a real need for assistance with their regulatory compliance needs.
“I was also absolutely committed to not just throw software ‘over the wall,’ but to be certain that the bankers using the technology also had a source they could go to for a full range of expert answers and support.”
In a recent press release, Julia Schultz, senior vice president and operations manager of 1st National Bank & Trust of Bradenton, FL, praised ATTUS.
“We have gained a tremendous sense of security and value from our investment in ATTUS’ compliance products,” she said. “When we became an ATTUS customer, we immediately realized that we bought more than a compliance solution. We gained a trusted industry expert in the industry who never fails to deliver on their promise to provide outstanding technical support.”
One of Sullivan’s’ other ventures was a bank services firm. He also was involved with another tech startup, which he sold.
With ATTUS (which is his middle name), Sullivan was well positioned to capitalize on the wave of new business generated by the Treasury Department and Patriot Act crackdowns.
Tougher regulations, regulators
“Regulators are a lot stricter now than they used to be,” Sullivan said. “All financial institutions are subject to monetary penalties for non-compliance. ATTUS’ comprehensive suite of compliance management solutions is being used by over 2000 financial institutions to meet regulations of the USA Patriot Act, OFAC, BSA (Bank Secrecy Act), FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), and AML (Anti-Money Laundering).”
Sullivan then pointed out ATTUS’ strengths:
- “Our WatchDOG Suite of products that offer full-featured OFAC interdiction software tools that automatically scan enhanced OFAC lists for designated terrorists, blocked entities and sanctioned countries.
- “Full featured Customer Identity Programs and Verification solutions that enable financial institutions to verify the ID of all new customers as required by the USA Patriot Act, Section 326.
- “Global national and international WatchLists• compiled from over 40 global sources.
- “FinCEN requires banks to notify them if someone on one of their alert lists is banking with them. GuardDOG• provides individual lookup and batch processing against encrypted FinCEN data.”
Sullivan also points out he was servicing banks long before terrorists attacked the United States.
“Unlike a lot of firms that have jumped into this space after 9-11, we were already firmly committed to serving the regulatory and compliance needs of financial services organizations,” he said. “Even before 911, regulatory compliance was an ever-increasingly complicated area of business for financial institutions.
“With the proliferation of on-line banking and electronic commerce, over time, financial institutions were becoming the gatekeepers of all electronic transactions, which naturally led to fraud prevention, increased security and more regulatory compliance. Therefore, we believe we have a higher level of expertise and a lot more credibility than companies that have just discovered this industry.”
‘I’m not a programmer’
ATTUS licenses its software, but Sullivan pointed out it will soon have a Microsoft ,NET solution to “provide virtually any company in any industry access to the compliance information they need in a Web services mode.”
So who is the brains behind ATTUS? Sullivan said he concentrates on vision while hiring programmers. Given the company’s location in one of the world’s largest financial centers, ATTUS has secured some top talent, he said.
“‘m not a programmer,” Sullivan explained. “I provide strategic direction for product development. We are fortunate to be located in the second largest banking capital in the country because there is a wealth of expertise here to draw on in the financial services technology field.”
Sullivan also has received outside support financially — particularly from another Charlotte entrepreneur, Tom Fedell.
“We received a significant investment from Charlotte Capital Plus Partners, a local investment fund that invests in established companies with great growth prospects. I was fortunate to develop a relationship with Tom Fedell, CEO of Charlotte Capital Plus Partners, because of his expertise, knowledge and track record of success,” Sullivan said. “Tom founded YOUCENTRIC, a company that he sold in 2001 to publicly traded J.D. Edwards for $86 million. Having a relationship with Charlotte Capital Plus Partners not only feels like a vote of confidence, but enhances our opportunities.”
Sullivan wouldn’t disclose the amount of the investment or the firm’s revenues.
“Suffice it to say,” he said, “we have doubled the number of employees in the past 12 months.”