GC Spotlight: Anastasia Demetriou, General Counsel and Company Secretary at IFX Payments.

1. Hi Anastasia, tell us a little about yourself and your role at IFX.  

I am the General Counsel and Company Secretary at IFX Payments. We are a global foreign exchange, payment and financial technology provider headquartered in London with offices around the world. I am responsible for all legal matters relating to the IFX group, working closely with the C-Suite, the compliance function, internal stakeholders, regulatory bodies and external counsel to advise the business on legal and regulatory risk and strategy. 

2. What have been your biggest challenges during the pandemic?

I started with IFX during lockdown II, at a time when the business was experiencing huge growth; IFX had increased the number of payments it handled monthly by 3000%! I was keen to wrap my arms around the business and really immerse myself in the day-to-day. I was conscious not to allow my inability to meet with stakeholders in person to impact my goals to learn about the intricacies of the business, foster strong relationships and implement change. I don’t think that there is a replacement for face-to-face interaction and you have to work especially hard to achieve the same ties if you’re doing so entirely virtually. Thankfully with the support of the C-Suite and senior management I was able to get the ‘buy in’ and engagement to set company-specific expectations and lay the groundwork for the legal function.  

3. What do you think about the use of LegalTech, data analytics and process optimisation to improve your legal department's value (e.g., data relating to contracts, risk, tracking workflows, performance metrics, costs)?

I’m keen to reduce the legal “touch-points” in the business and I think that LegalTech has a key role to play. Harnessing LegalTech to automate processes will allow our department more flexibility to engage in training and risk mitigation at a high level. We need to ensure that we have compliance savvy stakeholders who are live to legal risk in their day-to-day so any tools that move that process forward with ease are welcomed. As we grow, I expect that LegalTech will have an instrumental impact on the legal function’s resource management.

4. Where do you see NewLaw/ALSPs fitting into the matrix of your legal department?

I don’t think that Alternative Legal Service Providers can really be seen as all that “alternative” anymore. Legal spend and “value-add” are at the forefront of every GC’s mind and there are certain jobs are too time-consuming to undertake in-house or there is a need for specialised expertise. There is a real demand in the legal services industry for cost-effective advice without the need to pay law firm hourly rates on a time-spent basis. I think that the legal services industry has and will continue to be forced to embrace technological advances in order to remain competitive.