I spoke on the phone last week with Saskia Rietbroek, founder, SanctionsAlert.com. She is located in Maastricht, the Netherlands, an attractive, university city on the southern tip of the country. Her small but prolific company, a new SIPA member, truly defines globalism as you'll read.
SIPA: I'm sure our new president is keeping you busy.
Yes, for us, Trump is good. He stirs the pot. People need to know about the changes and what's going on that's different.
When did you start SanctionsAlert.com?
October 2015. I had been in the compliance field for more than a decade and decided to start it. Compliance is a very fluid topic. Sanctions are always changing, and the compliance burden is usually on the businesses, financial institutions and charitable organizations. And there can be deep-money penalties. So there's a real need for information.
What services do you provide?
We post articles on our website on new developments, and host webinars on timely topics in the industry. It could be about new sanctions on Cuba or what bank regulators are looking for. A yearly membership gives you access to all the webinars. Most of our organizations attend the webinars. If multiple people sign up, it becomes less expensive.
Is your content free?
Some of it is. We're trying to find the right balance. Find out what they're willing to pay for, while still letting people know we're out there. Members can log in to the webinar library and a database of enforcement penalties. It's a great resource—what went wrong with other companies.
Are you involved in the content and editing process?
Yes, and it's quite time-consuming. This is a high-stakes, high-risk process. I spend time talking to experts. Of course, you have to wait for people to get back to you and then you need that insight from people on the ground. What happens to the laws, or the exporter of tomatoes to Russia?
How big is your staff?
We have a part-time staff of 6. That includes financial, developers, a business development person in Miami and a reporter in London. The person who uploads the content is in Pakistan. With our project management system, it all works very well. Having people in different time zones you can always advance something—somebody's always awake.
How did you find SIPA?
I used to work at an association that was a member. I hope to attend the in June.
Sanctions can be pretty serious.
Yes, the topic of sanctions is pretty complex; it's midway between diplomacy and war. It's a challenge to keep up with everything going on—and interpreting it. You're just trying to post something before they change it again. One day you can do business with Russia, one day you can't.
You would have had a tough time in the print days.
I'm glad we're living in a virtual age.
What kind of outreach and social media do you do?
We use Twitter a lot, LinkedIn, email marketing. We have a large database that we send our newsletter to with links. I speak at industry events on sanctions compliance, and meet new people and potential speakers for us there. More events, in addition to webinars, are in our planning.