Finding a firm's structure is just Handshakes away

DC Frontiers aims to make searches easier for corporate service providers and more

The DC Frontiers team (from left) co-founder Charles Poon, head of strategy and business development Lawrence Ng, and co-founder Daryl Neo.
The DC Frontiers team (from left) co-founder Charles Poon, head of strategy and business development Lawrence Ng, and co-founder Daryl Neo. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Corporate service providers such as lawyers and accountants have a new tool to help them identify the owners of any Singapore company within seconds.

This tool is a new function of an analytics application, Handshakes, which can trawl company registry data to draw links between people and companies.

With the new function, users are able to generate a chart that maps out the various layers of the legal ownership interests, and have a quick at-a-glance view of the entire ownership structure.

Singapore-based financial technology firm DC Frontiers - which owns Handshakes - developed this new function with the support of the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

This is also made possible after the firm signed up with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) to be a reseller of its company registry data.

Previously, Handshakes could generate visual maps and reports based only on publicly available information on listed companies.

With the Acra tie-up, it has access to the data of some 500,000 private companies, which will widen the practical applications for users, said co-founder Daryl Neo in an interview with The Straits Times.

Mr Neo set up the company in April 2011 with Mr Charles Poon. The pair were former colleagues at the Singapore Exchange where one was a regulator of mainboard-listed companies and the other was in charge of Catalist-listed ones.

"This added tool to map out ownership can help to make the lives of corporate service providers easier," said Mr Poon.

This is especially handy since all corporate service providers are required by Acra to conduct due diligence checks, including verifying beneficial owners of the firms before providing any service to them.

"These service providers may have to take a few days to manually check the background, affiliations and beneficial ownership structure of a company before they can go back to the prospective customer," said Mr Poon.

"But now, the information is available with just one click."

This function is meant to help users "short-circuit" the process, and lower costs and improve productivity, said Mr Neo.

Companies can also use Handshakes to screen their vendors to identify any potential conflict of interest, he added.

The firm covers all private and public companies in Singapore as well as listed companies in Malaysia. It plans to expand coverage to Hong Kong and other Asian markets in the next 12 to 18 months.

"We find Asean countries like Indonesia and Thailand interesting," said Mr Poon.

"We can provide more value to our customers in these markets where private companies data is not readily available."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline Finding a firm's structure is just Handshakes away. Subscribe