Customer Story

Broker-Dealer Automates Compliance

with Ascent

A New York-based broker-dealer firm had the goal of running a lean, mean, automation-driven shop.

The Firm adopted a “technology first” ethos from its inception, which meant automating compliance tasks as well. “From risk management to legal and compliance operations, our algorithms touch everything,” said the Firm’s Investment Manager.

The Firm did not want to simply scrape compliance rules. They wanted technology solutions that handled not only the general rulebooks, but regulatory obligations, plus policies and procedures, and finally operations. “If you’re looking at the full compliance chain,” explained the Investment Manager, “it starts with ‘what are the regulations, and what are your obligations?’ It then turns to ‘what are the policies and procedures you need to complete the required tasks?’”

When looking for technology tools, the Manager quickly realized there were only a limited number of vendors within the regulatory technology space. Most did not move beyond the first step – rule collection.

“There are a lot of vendors who can tell you what the rules are,” the Manager said. “It gets more difficult to find vendors to help you identify your firm’s obligations under those rules by synthesizing the data and applying machine learning and natural learning processing to initiate the steps your firm must take to comply with a given rule.”

Ascent gives us the ability to ingest the regulatory rulebooks [and] identify the applicable regulatory obligations that flow from those rules…all this happens without a human touch.

Manager at Broker-Dealer Firm

Compliance as a source of alpha

Examining the handful of other companies that claimed to offer similar services, the Manager found that the majority excelled only at step one—rule collection—but fell down as they moved through the compliance chain.

“Ascent is not only good at step one, but they’re good at steps two, three and four. They are API-driven, and you can trigger events in an automated fashion.”

Further more, the Firm found that Ascent shared their vision of compliance as a profit center. “If you view compliance as a source of alpha,” the Investment Manager said, “you are going to invest in it, automate it, put resources there. But the overwhelming majority of firms only view it as a cost center.” This cost center mindset has led to gross underinvestment in compliance technology across the financial services industry.

“Overall,” the Manager said, “regulatory technology is years behind good technology. But that’s not the case with Ascent.”

Modern technology bakes in the interdependencies that fuel digital efficiency and productivity. For instance, at this Firm, compliance and operations are integrated, not siloed. Ascent gives them the tools to automate the interactions between the two, saving time and money, increasing flexibility, and enabling superior customer service.

“We are involved in different products and exchanges. Ascent gives us the ability to ingest the regulatory rulebooks, identify the applicable regulatory obligations that flow from those rules, and then plug into the policies and procedures that will fulfill those obligations through triggering workflows based on specific events. All this happens without a human touch.”

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