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Mortgage & Consumer Lenders: How Inflation Could Impact Regulation

By Blog, Featured

Over the past two years, researchers have honed in on consumer spending habits, particularly in the mortgage and consumer lending sectors. This spring, firms like McKinsey began sharing insights on how the pandemic has shifted consumer buying behaviors, including the impact of rising inflation across the U.S. Their findings point to some interesting trends that alone may not be cause for concern, but when looked at together, they may predict where and how federal and state agencies could start to focus on what they deem risky consumer spending and in turn, influence tighter interpretations of rules and regulations. For mortgage lenders, this could have major ramifications for compliance teams, revenue streams, and (perhaps most importantly) organizational reputation.

While interest rates continue to rise, and consequently inflame mortgage rates from 3.1% to 5.25% in Q1 2022, home demand is expected to increase at a rapid pace. This should be great news for mortgage lenders, who continue to see a steady flow of buyers. This isn’t expected to wane anytime soon, given that mortgage rates are still lower than the Consumer Price Index; however, lenders already strapped for talent and budget will feel the burden of this continued pressure alongside what may be coming from regulators.

What really weighs on both lenders and federal agencies is a mounting concern that many consumers have potentially overextended themselves in the past two years. Some indication of this could be the rise in valuation of firms like Square’s own Cash App, and other neobank market activity that has introduced new dynamics like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) into consumer spending, creating alternative access to funds. With innovation comes new challenges which inevitably inspires new interpretations and eventually, regulations.

 A March 2022 article in the American Banker indicates the CFPB could move swiftly to begin analyzing and introducing more regulation into the BNPL loans market. This reaffirms both consumer and mortgage lenders’ concerns that the industry could soon experience rising rates of default. Lending Tree reported in May that now over 40% of consumers have missed a BNPL payment, and only one in twelve consumers are actually using BNPL for the industry’s initial intention: creating direct access to essentials for lower-income consumers.

Given the size of the BNPL market, $47B in 2021, with an expected 49% increase to $67B by the end of 2022, and an anticipated 53M users by 2025, it’s clear as to why the CFPB would be alerted to ensuring this new loan class remains safe for consumers and their families.

In anticipation of tighter scrutiny and adjusting interpretations on existing regulations, consumer lenders are shoring up budgets and reviewing technology solutions now to avoid costly changes and mistakes down the line. Concern that consumers have created an environment ripe for complex lending and riskier investments may begin impacting organic growth for the first time in a decade.

Getting ahead of the wave means revisiting compliance solutions right now that can ease the burden on internal teams by quickly and accurately identifying, interpreting, and monitoring critical obligations. Additionally, arming compliance leaders with efficiency tools not only boosts morale but can mitigate concerns as to whether lenders will be ahead of the curve and pre-empt any unnecessary negative attention when stories of mounting consumer risk hits media headlines. If financial services and consumer lending have learned anything from its past, it’s that being intentional, transparent, and consumer-focused is the best way to fortify market reputation.

Ascent RegTech fuels growth for mortgage lenders by managing your compliance regulations across markets, geographies and offerings. Ascent swiftly and accurately gathers your relevant requirements in one place, saving your firm time, human capital and costly mistakes.

 Learn more.



The Secret to Operating Like a Fortune 500 Compliance Team as a Team of One

By Blog

As a vital contributor in any financial services business, compliance officers are under immense pressure to not only maintain regulatory oversight, manage compliance obligations and implement efficient resolutions, but also to balance the impact of any new constraints on the business that may hinder revenue performance.

As government agencies sharpen their regulatory focus coming out of the pandemic, today’s compliance officer faces an overflowing bucket of challenges. The costs associated with monitoring, managing, implementing, and reviewing risk for an organization continue to rise at rapid rates. Feeling the pressure to swiftly sift through the relentless flurry of new regulations can be problematic, opening the firm up to scrutiny over errors.

Compliance Mistakes Deteriorate Revenue Streams

Mounting compliance fees and heightened attention from agencies mean more firms are paying out hundreds of thousands–if not millions–in fines at alarming rates post-pandemic. Any firm that’s paid one of these compliance fines knows just how painful it can be, and how it impacts not only employee morale, but also revenue streams for the organization.

Inefficient Processes Hinder Revenue Growth

Compliance officers are also champions for change management within their organizations. After sifting through hundreds of documents for hours at a time, compliance leaders then have to identify obligations and their impact on the current processes and procedures. 

Given that reading through regulatory documents consumes about 65% of a compliance officer’s time, not much is left for optimizing processes and getting other departments on board with strategic shifts. However, without ideal processes operating behind the scenes, organizations fall victim to confusion, mistakes, and lost momentum.

Without the Right Processes, Organic Growth Isn’t Possible

The biggest opportunity for firms building out new revenue channels rests on the shoulders of compliance teams. They have incredible control over the speed with which organizations grow, because until the right compliance processes are in place, firms can’t move into new markets or offer new products and services. Put another way, the speed of your compliance team has a direct impact on your firm’s revenue streams.  

You Don’t Need More People 

Without a team to divide and conquer, individual compliance officers have to prioritize and adapt, which may make firms think they need to hire more employees to absorb the ever-mounting responsibilities and pressures on their compliance department. But before investing in new talent that will require training and supervision, not to mention take on an incredible responsibility to perform at optimal levels, consider the compounded risk of more human hands in the process.

 Investing in human capital has its place in the trajectory of a growing firm. But in this case, adding more bodies to the problem isn’t going to address the crux of your compliance officer’s challenges – yet.

The best kept secret of successful compliance officers is adopting the right technology that complements their strengths and empowers them to work quickly and effectively.

It’s nearly impossible to manually capture everything correctly. Compliance officers stand the best chance of efficiently identifying, implementing and overseeing regulatory risks and obligations when they’re working in sync with an intelligent technology solution. With access to the most reliable data, machine learning can free up compliance officers to focus on the big picture. And no compliance solution is complete without human oversight, so as the regtech industry advances, it enhances the quality of work that compliance officers produce. 

Ascent RegTech reduces the enormous burdens on compliance officers by:

o   Automating labor intensive activities

o   Identifying firm-specific obligations

o   Delivering precise regulatory to-do lists

o   Maintaining transparency into rule sources

o   Mitigating human error

o  Enabling firms to scale compliance as they grow 


Learn more about how to leverage Ascent for your compliance needs here:


Consumer Lending Teams: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the CFPB’s Recent Announcements

By Blog

Things are changing for consumer lending compliance officers. A CFPB News Release on May 19th highlights a concerted effort amongst federal and state regulators to sharpen collaborative efforts to monitor consumer lending practices. 

Prior emphasis on consumer lending, including the passing of the Consumer Financial Protection Act in 2010, was a direct result of the Great Recession and the government’s efforts to prevent future devastation. Now, after four years of relaxed regulatory oversight, it’s time for organizations to dust off and revisit compliance and regulatory obligations.

 So what’s happening? And what do you need to know?

The May release from the CFPB highlights that while states have always had authority to enforce their own laws, they are also empowered to enforce consumer protection regulations as issued by the CFPB. Encouraging this state-level collaboration validates the scrutiny regulators will be giving to consumer lending practices this year.

 Compliance teams already task-saturated and understaffed will continue to feel pressure as organizations face growing scrutiny. While consumer mortgage lending and student loan practices have been on the CFPB’s radar for some time, they have now invited state regulators to join them in scrutinizing consumer lending of all types. Providing compliance teams with tools to ensure your institution is identifying its obligations is the first step in a robust compliance program that also will contribute to operational efficiencies and smart innovation.

 And while these are changes your organization will have to address, it doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul. 

While some tools solve for one challenge at a time, leaving gaps in the system, solutions like Ascent can slide into a compliance team’s toolkit and immediately reduce time spent on operational tasks, increase accuracy, and empower compliance leaders to make decisions with confidence and precision.

Get in touch to learn more about how Ascent can help your compliance team succeed today. 

Ascent VComply Partnership

Press Release | Ascent RegTech & VComply Partnership

By Blog

Ascent RegTech & VComply Partner to Create Out-of-the-Box Compliance Solutions for Traditionally Underserved Market


Chicago IL (May 25, 2022) Ascent, an AI-based solution that automatically generates and updates targeted regulatory compliance obligations for firms across the financial services industry, today announces a partnership with VComply, a leading cloud-based Governance, Risk Management & Compliance (GRC) platform that helps streamline organizations’ compliance and risk management programs. Empowering compliance teams within credit unions and banks to simplify the compliance lifecycle by operationalizing and automating complex data and workflows, Ascent and VComply together create an end-to-end solution for the traditionally underserved midmarket organizations.

VComply’s cloud platform enables organizations with out-of-the-box, fully customizable GRC applications requiring zero coding or infrastructure to strengthen risk and compliance management. The integration with Ascent’s AI-driven technology allows compliance teams to access relevant obligations while improving efficiency and transparency within the compliance management process.

“Our mission is to reduce the costs and complexities of compliance and help create a world that’s not restricted but empowered by the rule of law,” said Dominick Campagna, VP Sales of Ascent “Not only does VComply share in our vision to help regulated companies do the right thing and reduce error-prone compliance operations, but they’re also aligned with our desire to serve the underserved and enable compliance teams to become engines of growth within their organizations.”

Leveraging one of VComply’s unique out-of-the-box compliance solution in conjunction with Ascent’s highly targeted obligations and regulatory change management data allows users to more efficiently manage their compliance team’s organizational processes, tasks and action items right from a single platform for banks, credit unions, consumer lenders, mortgage services, Broker-Dealers, Investment Advisers, and Payment Processors

“Partnering with Ascent provides our clients with increased efficiency, collaborative capabilities, and transparency into business processes,” said Harshvardhan Kariwala, founder and CEO of VComply. “Ascent shares our ethos to simplify compliance and deliver it to the world. We strive not just to serve the Fortune 500, but the Fortune 500,000, to enable disruption and empower those in need of cost-efficient guidance with solutions to fuel growth.”

Learn more about partnering with Ascent.


About Ascent

Ascent invented Regulatory Knowledge Automation to fundamentally transform how businesses comply. Using AI, Ascent generates a complete set of regulatory obligations targeted to the customer and keeps them up-to-date automatically, finally creating a way for firms to reduce both risk and costs at the same time. This dynamic regulatory knowledge is available through our cloud-based platform or API. Learn more at

About VComply

Based in Silicon Valley, VComply is an internationally acclaimed Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) management software-as-a-service platform that makes achieving corporate governance more streamlined and comprehensive. Based on the principle of EVASTM (Entrust, Verify, Analyze and Sustain), VComply enables companies to assign compliance responsibilities, and then categorize them under laws, certifications, audits or regulations & standards. Companies can then track their execution and monitor compliance status all from a central dashboard. Over 5,000 users across more than 100 countries currently leverage VComply’s GRC management platform to oversee compliance operations and establish a culture of good governance. VComply has a global presence with offices in California & multiple locations in India. Learn more about VComply at


Interested in learning more? Contact us to request a demo or talk to our Sales team.

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Investment Advisors: How to Know a RegTech Solution Will Work for Your Firm

By Blog

Investment advisory firms are faced with navigating an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, especially as they look to expand into new states and across enhanced product lines. Because most regulatory practices are outdated and unrefined, compliance becomes even more difficult for investment advisory firms to manage.

For one thing, compliance requirements often aren’t maintained in a centralized location. That means trying to address state and federal regulatory feeds in different places, which can easily lead to overlooked obligations. And that’s before you factor in changes to those regulatory feeds. Identifying the evolving requirements that apply to your firm is both challenging and labor-intensive, especially for firms looking to introduce new services or add geographic locations to their book of business.

In 2018, Thomson Reuters reported that a new regulatory update was implemented every seven minutes—a number that has likely increased since the massive industry disruption caused by the pandemic. And fines for non-compliance are becoming both more severe and more pervasive. In 2021, the SEC filed 434 new enforcement actions, a 7% increase over the previous year.

With a compliance landscape so fraught with potential for oversight, error and enforcement action, how does a growing investment advisory firm reduce regulatory risk while focusing on business development?

Five Reasons You Might Need a RegTech Platform

RegTech, or regulatory technology, is the application of emerging technology to improve the way businesses manage regulatory compliance. RegTech companies use machine learning, natural language processing, blockchain, AI and other technologies to digitally transform the world of regulatory compliance.

So what are some signs that a regtech platform might be the answer to your firm’s compliance challenges?

  • You’re an SEC registered securities investment advisor, broker-dealer or investment company, or a CFTC registered commodity trading advisor, pool operator or merchant.
  • Your firm is growing, but your compliance team isn’t. If your firm is in a growth phase, it makes sense to invest the majority of your budget in just that—growth—instead of costly compliance resources. 
  • Your compliance team is strapped for time. Of course, the problem with growing your firm and not your compliance team is that it leaves your current compliance resources struggling to stay on top of evolving regulatory requirements and obligations.
  • Your firm is looking to add new products or serve different states. As we mentioned above, expansion of any kind causes increasing regulatory complexity, from managing initial compliance requirements to staying on top of a longer list of obligations and potential changes.
  • You’re looking for support meeting regulatory requirements in one or more of the following areas: SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission), FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), NFA (National Futures Association), Trading systems and venues, Clearing, settlement and depositories, Anti-money laundering and counter-finanncial terrorism, governed by the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) and FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), Consumer privacy and/or consumer protection.

What to Look for in a RegTech Platform

Once you’ve decided a RegTech platform is the right choice for helping your firm meet compliance requirements, it’s time to choose one. Knowing what to look for depends on knowing what problems you’re trying to solve for your firm. 

Do you need help:

Laser focusing on your firm’s regulatory obligations and changes? Make sure your RegTech provider can surface relevant areas of regulation—that is, the exact individual actions your firm must take, or refrain from taking to be compliant—as well as keep them up to date as rules change.

Implementing regtech into your day-to-day practices? The benefits of RegTech are only realized when RegTech tools are properly implemented, so ensure that any provider you evaluate offers a dedicated support team to help you adopt and make the most of their solution.

Reducing total fines and penalties? A major catalyst for firms looking to add RegTech to their compliance solution is the desire to avoid being penalized by the SEC, FINRA or other organizations. Check that your potential partner can provide proven success stories from firms like yours.


Want to learn more about whether outsourcing compliance is right for you? Check out our blog post here.

Regulatory Roundup: April 2022

By Blog

Industry regulations change seemingly overnight. It’s impossible to pay attention 24/7, and while Ascent makes it easy to monitor important changes, it’s also important to stay current. 

That’s why we’re rounding up some significant news items for you to consider from the past few weeks. 

Those of us in highly regulated industries realize the importance of making sure we stay up to date with changes that might affect. With that in mind, take a look at a few recent items of interest:

Global: Consumer Data & Privacy

Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom all have emerging regulations to protect the rights of consumers regarding personal data. Although present across all industry sectors, focus is on digital interaction that are prevalent in the financial services industry.

Referred to as the Consumer Data Right (CDR), this emerging open banking regulation’s goal is to provide consumers with more control over their personal data by enabling them to share that data with the businesses they select for uses they choose.

This regulation is meant to aid consumers in choosing a financial services provider and enable future innovation in the space. 

United States Only: SEC Proposes to Include Certain Market Participants as “Dealers” or “Government Securities Dealers”

In response to concerns that algorithm-based, high frequency proprietary trading firms are now acting as a significant source of market liquidity, the SEC has proposed two new rules that would require these firms to register with the SEC under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and become members of a self-regulatory organization (e.g., FINRA), subject to certain dollar thresholds.

We expect that these new rules may require managers of large pension funds and hedge funds to have to register as securities dealers and/or government securities dealers. This would present a new market segment for 

Interested in learning more about how Ascent can support your RIA or Broker-Dealer? Learn More. 

United States Only: EC Staff Bulletin on Account Recommendations to Retail Investors

The SEC has issued staff guidance on how to satisfy their obligations to retail investors when making investment recommendations under Reg BI and the Investment Advisers Act, which is an area of SEC focus in 2022. The guidance is not a regulation or law creating new obligations, but rather is a statement of how the regulator expects Broker-Dealers and RIAs to satisfy their obligations.


Want to stay up-to-date on regulatory news relevant to your industry? Subscribe to our newsletter today. 


Recognizing Women in RegTech: Recapping Our Celebration on International Women’s Day

By Blog

In case you missed it, we teamed up with The Chicago RegTech Meetup and HData to celebrate International Women’s Day with some of the amazing women in RegTech.

Through opening the conversation about women in the industry, sharing our hopes and dreams, and discussing ways to overcome challenges to create the world we all want to see, we heard some amazing takeaways that we wanted to recap.

Why is RegTech a Great Industry for Women?

The panel began with moderator Lisa Alvarado, Managing Director at Holistic, opening the discussion about what attracted our panelists to the RegTech industry and how they got their start. Virginia Hunt, Customer Success Director at HData, offered, “There’s a wealth of opportunity in this space right now. Regulations and data standards are ever evolving and there’s a need in the space for qualified professionals.”

Valerie Dahiya, Managing Partner at Perkins Cole, also shared that her start in the industry was a natural evolution from her background in the regulatory side of financial services, which is constantly innovating and leveraging technology for product development, creating efficiencies within the current infrastructure, and also for compliance purposes to streamline compliance and reduce overhead costs.

What Sets You Up for Success?

Alvarado moves on to asking the women what they believe sets them up for success when trying to hit their next goal. Ellen Krueger, Director of Customer Experience at Ascent, explained that she views success in a couple different ways. Whether it’s the small wins or the more long-term career goals, advocating for yourself is important.

“I do think that some younger professionals don’t necessarily feel like they have the ability or capability to do that and I’m realizing that even at the earliest point in your career that you can and you should,” said Krueger. “Making sure that my voice is heard is really important and that’s something that has continued to push me along my career.”

Overcoming the Feeling of Failure

Switching gears in the discussion, the panel is asked about failure and how they overcame the obstacles of what might be considered not succeeding in the traditional sense. Gigi Klotz, Sales Development Representative at Ascent, explains the transition she went through when deciding to let go of her 6 year long career in music education to realizing she wanted to take a different route that was stable and provided more flexibility.

Klotz goes on to say that she felt like that the decision did not need to be justified and that it was the right one to make.

How Do You Find Work-Life Balance?

With being a woman in any sort of industry, comes the balancing act of putting your full effort into your work as well as prioritizing your family. Alvarado opened the floor to the moms of the group asking how they find that healthy balance of a work to personal life ratio. Noraan Sadik, Venture Partner and Co-Founder at FemHealth Ventures, is a mom of two. With one being born pre-pandemic when she worked in an office environment and one being born during a pandemic when she worked from home, she realized just how much working from home has now affected her ability to spend more time with her children and just how important it is to make that a priority.

“It was very difficult to balance (pre-pandemic),” said Sadik. “Now when I think about the future of my work, whether that’s me working from home, or myself or someone else, I want to make sure there’s that opportunity for flexibility even if I’m going back to the office.”

As the panel came to a close, there was no denying that these are smart, ambitious, and eloquent women who have already made such a legacy for themselves. Thank you to all who participated and tuned in for this International Women’s Day celebration!


Want to talk more about how Ascent is supporting diversity and inclusion in our industry? Visit Our Careers Page.

maintain compliance

Is Your Regulatory Risk Management Strategy Missing Critical Obligations?

By Blog, Featured

Regulatory risk management has always been a minefield of potential costly missteps and omissions for mortgage lenders. Over the past few years, it’s become even more challenging–especially as demand for mortgages climbs and firms expand into new arenas.

For one thing, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to utterly transform the way they operate. As they scrambled to adopt digital workflows and capabilities largely overnight, regulatory changes governing those new operations came in fast and furious—and changed just as quickly, as potential risks were brought to light in real time.

And even before the pandemic, the rise of e-commerce and digital delivery giants escalated issues of consumer privacy and data security.

These are just two of the recent struggles facing mortgage lenders, who have long dealt with a vast and complex regulatory landscape.

Depending on where they operate, mortgage lenders need to look at the regulation feeds from multiple states–sometimes all 50. And because states change their licensing requirements regularly, it can be nearly impossible to stay on top of the latest updates—in addition to trying to manage federal regulatory requirements and ever-evolving consumer protection rules.

Often, mortgage lenders turn to industry-familiar search tools to help them determine what they should be doing from a compliance perspective. 

But what these sources provide for mortgage lenders are entire legislative bills or full regulatory rule updates—tens or even hundreds of pages in length. To actually determine what they should be doing, mortgage lenders need to:

  • Read through the entire text
  • Subjectively decide which requirements are relevant to them
  • Record those requirements for implementation

The results: over-served information that requires time consuming manual analysis, causing feelings of overwhelm and often opens up more risk.

Within these lengthy legislative bills and regulatory updates, there are the regulatory requirements—the prescriptive “to-dos” which get to the heart of what mortgage lenders need to do to stay compliant.

But there’s also important supporting information in these texts—exemptions, clarification statements, and definitions that are further needed to interpret the requirement. 

Unfortunately for mortgage lenders, this supporting information is typically not found directly next to its corresponding requirement. Users have to dig through different sections of the document, which wastes more time and creates even more uncertainty around what they need to do.

Identifying compliance requirements for mortgage lenders doesn’t have to be tedious.

Ascent RegTech automatically defines—and identifies—obligations for mortgage lenders much faster and more accurately.

We create a to-do list specific to your firm by extracting precise compliance requirements from the broader rule book, including all laws, rules and regulations applicable to you. Once complete, you can be assured of continued compliance, because regulation changes are automatically captured and updated–even as your firm expands into new jurisdictions.

Ascent also packages each obligation alongside its relevant support information, creating what we call a “complete thought” explaining the specific task required of your firm, as well as all necessary context for completing it.

Using Ascent, you can:

  • Centralize and automate your obligations in a single place
  • Eliminate the manual tedium of sifting through large regulatory documents to determine what applies to you
  • Filter out what doesn’t matter and take action on specific to-dos 
  • Reduce cost associated with compliance management

Find out how Ascent can help you manage the evolving mortgage lender regulatory risk landscape. Contact us to request a demo or talk to our Sales team. 

Not All Obligations Are Created Equal

By Blog

Risk and compliance teams have a language problem.

They’ve become accustomed to regulatory providers defining “obligations” as long, text-filled documents, or worse, PDFs that link out to other documents.

But that definition of obligation is inaccurate.

The obligation itself is a specific line item explaining exactly what your firm must do—or not do—to be compliant. And there are real risks associated with the traditional top-down, data dump approach to obligations.

1. Lost Time: When regulatory technology solutions fail to deliver the actual obligation, and instead provide oceans of regulatory text, it’s the risk and compliance team that then has to sift through that information to determine exactly what needs to be done.

2. Inconsistent Naming Conventions: Because compliance teams have to find their own obligations, then create an obligations register to follow, they risk using language that doesn’t align with regulatory standards, which becomes a big problem when regulations change.

3. Regulation Change Issues: Compliance teams using traditional providers also have to sift through regulatory change documents whenever changes are made—which is often—to determine both what they are and if they even impact their firm at all.

There’s a better way. Download our infographic to learn why, when it comes to regulatory obligations, less is more—more time, more certainty, more consistency.

Ascent Selected for Several Built In Awards for the Third Year in a Row

By Blog, Culture

Ascent is excited to start off the new year recognized as one of Chicago’s Best Places to Work and Best Small Companies to Work For, for the third year in a row by Built In!

Built In determines the winners of Best Places to Work based on an algorithm, using company data about compensation, benefits, and companywide programming. To reflect the benefits candidates are searching for most frequently on Built In, the program also weighs criteria like remote and flexible work opportunities, programs for DEI, and other people-first cultural offerings.  

“The pandemic pushed us to transform from remote-friendly to fully remote-first. Truly embracing this change allowed us to support each other through a difficult time, welcome new teammates from around the country, and build momentum even in the face of uncertainty and adversity,” said Carrie Pinkham, VP of People at Ascent.

The resiliency of the in-house team reflects our collective dedication to achieving Ascent’s mission: to reduce the costs and complexities of compliance and to help create a world that’s not restricted but empowered by the rule of law.

Pinkham continued, “We feel fortunate to have a vibrant group of kind, intelligent, dedicated people collaborating to bring a game-changing product to market together. Our goal is to continue building a workplace where our employees feel recognized, motivated, and empowered to do their best work.”

To learn more at and