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9 Common RegTech Questions, Answered

By Blog

As a young industry, RegTech often gives rise to a host of questions — everything from “what is it?” to “how does it work?” to “how will it affect me?” We’ve collected a handful of the more common ones and answered them below.

Have a question that’s not on our list? Drop us a line at and we will be happy to help answer it!

What does RegTech mean?

RegTech (Regulatory Technology) is the application of emerging technology to improve the way businesses manage regulatory compliance. 

RegTech companies can be established GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) platforms, startup companies, and everything in between. They are united by their use of new, groundbreaking technology in the service of solving the problems of regulatory compliance.

As an industry, RegTech has emerged over the last few years to address the rising tide of regulation and its growing complexity. To learn more about the history and future of RegTech, check out our comprehensive guide, “What is RegTech?”

READ MORE: What is RegTech?


What are the benefits of RegTech?

For financial services, the benefits of RegTech are substantial:

  • Efficiency gains — As regulation continues to grow, it becomes nearly impossible for compliance personnel to keep up without the aid of technology. Technology, capable of processing a high volume of data at incredible speeds, can quickly parse and analyze raw legal text and extract valuable insights. 
  • Greater accuracy and comprehensiveness — Manual, siloed processes tend to create gaps in the compliance operation, leading to human error and increased exposure. Implementing the right technology (and integrating those technologies thoughtfully where necessary) shores up gaps and creates a streamlined compliance process.
  • Greater internal alignment — Technology tools enable greater transparency throughout the business, connecting once siloed people and processes. The result is better insights between business units that can be shared faster, which also leads to a stronger culture of compliance.
  • Improved risk management — Many RegTech tools help protect against various types of risk, including market abuse, cyber attacks, and fraud, by monitoring systems and alerting personnel to suspicious activity.

READ MORE: How Ascent customers reduce risk, slash costs, and save time


What is end-to-end compliance and how does RegTech fit in?

End-to-end (E2E) compliance is a fully traceable process that connects external regulatory events to a business’ specific obligations, then all the way through to that business’ internal controls, policies, and procedures. In an ideal world, E2E compliance leverages automation and other technologies to create a complete functional system of compliance. To achieve E2E compliance, different RegTech solutions can be used together (often referred to as a ‘compliance technology stack’) to create a seamless process that automates rote work, connects once-disjointed processes, and supports a robust compliance framework.

With a properly implemented E2E system, businesses could 1) be alerted to relevant new rules or changes to existing rules, 2) be directed to the exact parts of their internal controls or P&Ps that are impacted so team members can make the appropriate changes, 3) manage their obligations digitally including assigning work and tracking progress against deadlines, 4) easily produce records of their compliance activities, and 5) generate useful reporting dashboards. 

Again, due to the complexity and nuance of regulatory compliance, one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, compliance leaders should take a modular approach to building a technology stack that meets the firm’s unique circumstances and objectives.

What kind of tech stack should I consider for my compliance framework?

Compliance and Risk professionals are responsible for not only determining what their firms’ regulatory framework is, but also how to maintain it once it’s set. Thankfully, there are a number of solutions within the RegTech universe that support this effort and can be combined into a comprehensive, end-to-end tech stack. The key is to know which ones to bring into your tech stack in the first place, so here are a few types of solutions to consider:.

Regulatory content tools are situated at the beginning of the compliance process. They typically take the form of a content library, feed, or resource center. Content tools consolidate documents published by regulators into one platform (including the laws, enforcement actions, guidance, rule updates, and more), making research and horizon scanning more efficient. Leaders in this space include Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence, LexisNexis and Reg-Room.

Regulatory knowledge automation is technology that bridges the gap between the raw data of regulatory content and actionable insight. Market leader Ascent, for example, generates the regulatory obligations that pertain to your specific firm based on key factors like what type of financial entity you are, what services/products you offer, and where you operate. Ascent then automatically updates your obligations as rules change. This targeted regulatory knowledge allows compliance personnel to know exactly what the firm must comply with at all times, without the manual effort. 

GRC (governance, risk and compliance) platforms help operationalize compliance and often house all of a firm’s regulatory information, including obligations, controls, policies and procedures. Workflow capabilities allow users to track and manage their compliance efforts. Leaders in the space include LogicGate, MetricStream, IBM OpenPages, and RSA Archer to name a few. 

Point solutions cover a wide swath of RegTechs, helping firms execute compliance in a compliant way or assess compliance with an obligation or control. These could include (but are not limited to) trade monitoring, portfolio risk, know-your-customer, anti-money laundering, operations risk management, and cybersecurity tools. Point solutions are more limited in scope than regulatory knowledge automation or GRC solutions, but when they meet the right need they can provide substantial value.

READ MORE: The first (and most difficult) step in setting a regulatory compliance framework


What technologies do RegTech solutions use?

RegTech providers leverage a wide variety of emerging technologies. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Machine learning (ML) is the application of algorithms that improve automatically through experience. Rather than being specifically programmed to complete a task, ML models are fed large amounts of data, which they use to learn and improve on their own. In regulatory compliance, ML models can process large amounts of regulatory data and gradually draw conclusions about that data, becoming more and more accurate over time.
  • Natural language processing (NLP) is the field of using computers to process and analyze human language. In compliance, NLP can parse the unstructured raw text of regulation and reorganize it or otherwise transform it so that people can retrieve meaningful insights. 
  • Blockchain is a digital record of transactions, most often associated with cryptocurrencies. Blockchain has many other purposes however, such as enabling the secure sharing of know-your-customer data within or between organizations for compliance purposes.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) allows users to configure metaphorical “robots” or “digital workers” to replicate the actions of a human in a digital environment in order to complete a business process. RPA tools can automate laborious manual processes, like the production of hundreds of disclosures that asset management firms are required to generate throughout the year.

READ MORE: RegulationAI™: World-Class Technology Built for Compliance


What’s the difference between RegTech, FinTech, and SupTech?

RegTech leverages emerging technology to create tools focused on solving the challenges of regulatory compliance. While the majority of existing RegTech solutions are currently focused on the world of financial regulation, RegTech could also be leveraged for other regulated industries — for example, healthcare.

FinTech, short for financial technology, is the application of technology to solve problems or create new value in financial services. Examples include crowdsourcing platforms, mobile payments, cryptocurrency, robo-advisors, budgeting apps, or the use of open banking APIs. Recently, digital banks that operate purely online with no physical locations are also being referred to as FinTechs. 

SupTech, short for supervisory technology, is the application of emerging technology to improve how regulators conduct supervision. Just as RegTech leverages technology for regulated companies, SupTech leverages technology for the regulators.

READ MORE: What is SupTech and how will it change compliance?


Can RegTech help me with specific regulation like GDPR?

The rise of data privacy legislation like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) have added necessary protections for consumers but have increased financial institutions’ already significant regulatory burden in the process. Depending on what you are trying to achieve with specific regulation like GDPR, RegTech offers various solutions. 

There are many point solutions that help firms execute GDPR-compliant behavior. For example, UserCentrics helps firms obtain customer data in a transparent way. Syrenis provides one central platform to manage personal data, legal basis for obtaining that data, consent, and marketing practices. GDPR365 is a compliance assessor that offers guidance on what security weaknesses need to be fixed.

To understand what your organization’s obligations are under GDPR (or any other regulation), look to regulatory knowledge tools like Ascent. Ascent’s AI-driven technology pinpoints the GDPR obligations that your firm must comply with, then updates them automatically if the rules change.

READ MORE: How a Global Top 50 Bank Secured Its GDPR Obligations Using Ascent


How can I use RegTech to help my firm ease compliance burdens?

There are many use cases for RegTech, but here are some of the most common:

  • Horizon Scanning — monitoring regulatory developments including rule updates, guidance, and any other communications from regulators to better understand potential threats and opportunities.
  • Identifying Obligations and Changes — conducting regulatory analysis (also referred to as regulatory mapping) to understand which obligations or requirements your business must comply with. These obligations must then be routinely updated as rules change.
  • Compliance Management — managing your daily compliance activities and aligning them with the broader framework of regulatory strategy and process.

Finding a solution for these use cases can be challenging since the RegTech space is vast and each solution facilitates a different part of the compliance process. Breaking the RegTech landscape into these four categories makes it easier: 1) Regulatory content tools, 2) Regulatory knowledge automation, 3) GRC platforms, and 4) Point solutions.

For the examples above, the solutions for each use case vary:

  • Solution for Horizon Scanning: A regulatory content provider such as Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence helps save time with horizon scanning and research.
  • Solution for Regulatory Obligations: A regulatory knowledge provider such as Ascent identifies your obligations and keeps them updated as rules change. This targeted regulatory knowledge can also be used to understand downstream impact. For example, a rule change identified by Ascent can be used to trigger alerts or workflows related to that rule in your GRC or other compliance management platform. 
  • Solution for Compliance Management: A GRC or other compliance management system such as LogicGate or IBM OpenPages allows you to house and project manage your compliance activities, including assigning tasks, tracking progress against deadlines, and managing any internal documentation such as your controls, policies and procedures. Ascent’s granular obligations can be seamlessly fed into these systems so your regulatory data and activities are monitored, tracked, and managed all in one place.

If you are looking to accomplish all of these use cases, it is likely that your compliance operation requires multiple solutions, combined to create a full-scale compliance technology stack.

What questions should I ask a RegTech vendor that leverages “AI”?

What kinds of AI technologies do you use, and why?

First, brush up on machine learning and natural language processing basics so you can follow the vendor’s response. You do not need to be an AI expert; a good vendor will be able to explain their process in a way that any business leader can understand. What’s important is that you get a clear picture of how the specific technologies and approaches used create business value for you. Is the vendor using “AI” as a flashy marketing term, or is it actually integral to the solution?

Where are you getting the data that is training your algorithms?

Good AI tools require significant amounts of quality data – as they say, ‘bad in equals bad out.’ The vendor should be able to explain how they are ingesting regulatory text (did they build an ingestion or scraping tool, or are they white-labeing another product?), from where (the best case scenario is that the vendor is pulling straight from official regulatory websites), and at what frequency (this should be reasonably frequent so you know you have the most up-to-date information at any given time). The vendor should also be able to explain the quality-assurance process that ensures all intended data points are properly captured. 

Are there humans involved in the training of your algorithms, and to what degree?

In many industries, the notion of humans-in-the-loop (meaning the technology is not 100% machine-driven; humans are still involved in some part of the process) is considered a negative sign because it means “that the tool isn’t really AI.” The compliance industry, however, is unusual in that a humans-in-the-loop process is considered a positive. Why? Because the world of regulatory compliance is so nuanced and complex, that AI solutions are far better when trained and QA-ed by human experts in regulation and law. This does not mean that all AI-driven RegTechs require humans-in-the-loop to be great tools, but the vendor should be able to explain why they do or do not involve people in the process.

Who is held liable if your solution fails?

This question is as important for you as it is for the vendor. Because this issue exists in a legal gray area, you must carefully weigh the risk of implementing any new solution (AI or not). A good AI vendor will understand why this is a concern, and should show evidence of a strong model risk management framework, rigorous internal controls, and most importantly be completely transparent about what the solution can and cannot do. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

*Ascent offers a performance guarantee for its AI solution that is backed by an insurance cover from Munich Re Group. Read the case study to learn more.

We recommend checking out these articles to continue learning about RegTech and how it can be applied throughout the compliance process:

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Inside the complicated world of digital assets

By Blog, Compliance Over Coffee

[Feat. Val Dahiya, Partner, Perkins Coie] — As the former Branch Chief of the Division of Trading and Markets at the SEC, Val Dahiya knows a thing or two about risk exposure and the  impact of regulatory change. Now as a Partner at global law firm Perkins Coie, Val focuses on helping broker-dealer firms comply with regulation and navigate new transactional developments such as digital assets, NFTs, and blockchain technology.

In this episode of Compliance Over Coffee, Val draws from her time at FINRA and the SEC to show how these innovations are disrupting financial regulation. Here’s a clip of what she had to say:

“Innovation moves at the speed of light. And regulation, it’s responsive. It’s reactive. It oftentimes moves at the speed of a sloth.”

Watch as Ascent President and Founder Brian Clark and Val discuss how firms can reduce their risk exposure even in the face of unprecedented change. 

Also in this chat:

  • Gary Gensler and the new Administration
  • The role of social media in regulating markets
  • Environmental Social Governance (ESG) disclosures

Perkins Coie is a leading international law firm that is known for providing high value, strategic solutions and extraordinary client service on matters vital to our clients’ success. Visit Perkins Coie to learn about the firm’s full array of corporate, commercial litigation, intellectual property and regulatory legal services.

For the latest in the Compliance Over Coffee executive video series, subscribe to our email updates.


A former regulator’s take on AI, Big Tech, and RCM

A former regulator’s take on AI, Big Tech, and RCM

By Blog

Rick Bonhof. Managing Consultant, SynechronWe recently sat down with Rick Bonhof, a managing consultant who leads the Amsterdam regulatory change and compliance practice within the business consulting arm of Synechron—a leading digital transformation consulting firm that accelerates digital initiatives for banks, asset managers, and insurance companies around the world.

In his role, Bonhof oversees a team of experts who help clients build the regulatory framework that enables compliance. As an advisor for the digital-first firm, Bonhof is hyperfocused on making compliance more efficient through the use of technology, leveraging emerging tech such as machine learning and existing systems such as GRCs.

Prior to Synechron, Bonhof served as a supervision officer for Dutch regulator Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM) at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. After spending seven years crafting and executing supervisory strategy for AFM, he decided to redirect his work from supervising firms to actually helping them become compliant with regulation. And so, after witnessing how Synechron helped a number of financial institutions get back on track with EMIR (the EU equivalent of Dodd Frank in the US), Bonhof transitioned to the firm.

During our sit-down, Bonhof shared his blended supervisory-consultative perspective on a variety of topics—from the role of regulatory change management during the COVID-19 pandemic to how Big Tech will shape the future of financial services.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Setting the Record Straight on Regulators

Touching on his experience as a former regulator, Bonhof kicked off our conversation by sharing what he wished compliance professionals knew about regulators, and what he wished he had known as a regulator. 

When I made the switch from regulator to consultant, I realized that a lot of financial firms are afraid of regulators. But the reality is that regulators are people too and most are not out to fine you. What I think compliance professionals sometimes forget is that if you’re able to explain to regulators why you made certain decisions and how you implemented certain requirements, they’ll listen to you.

“A lot of financial firms are afraid of regulators. But the reality is that regulators are people too and most are not out to fine you.”

My advice to compliance professionals is to document their interpretation of the rule and why they applied the rule in a certain way according to their interpretation, so they have all of the information they need when it comes time to talk to regulators.

On the flip side, what I wish I had known as a regulator was, no matter how simple a request for information may seem on paper, it doesn’t actually mean that there’s a clearcut way to gather requested information or to implement a new rule. Many financial institutions do not start out as multinational global-spending institutions—they grow through mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring.

So there’s a whole collection of teams that suddenly need to contribute to this “one simple request,” making it not so simple after all.

Managing Regulatory Change in the Time of COVID 

Bonhof has long emphasized the importance of having a well-documented regulatory change management (RCM) strategy, especially when it comes to major events such as financial crises, election years and of course — the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to regulatory change management, my mantra has been “take control, be in control, and demonstrate control.” 

“Take control” is about understanding what your obligations are, understanding the impact of them, and then implementing and enforcing a compliant process.

“Be in control” is about understanding where your firm is in terms of compliance with the requirements, and revisiting both its requirements and compliance processes frequently. You should not only be control testing your processes to understand whether your firm is compliant with existing rules, but also monitoring whether there’s a change coming that could impact compliance with those rules. And, if there is a change on the horizon, then you need to go back to “take control” and proactively act on it.

Lastly, “demonstrate control” is about being able to take the evidence that you have and explain both internally and externally to what extent you comply with those measures.

How to Avoid Dropping the Ball on RCM

In Bonhof’s view, the biggest mistake that firms can make when implementing RCM best practices, is to treat them as a one-time solution. 

Most regulatory change management processes are driven by a regulatory change implementation date. Let’s say that a firm has to comply with X, Y, and Z by January 1, 2021. What I’ve found (and even been guilty of myself) is that many firms focus solely on making that milestone without the end result in mind. So once the firm does reach it, everyone sort of drops the ball and says, “We’re done, we made it.” But that’s the wrong approach because 2021 does not mark the end of implementing that change, it actually marks the start of it. 

What I’ve found (and even been guilty of myself) is that many firms focus solely on making [a] milestone without the end result in mind.

Firms are expected to be compliant with that new rule, and need to have a roadmap that accounts for what comes after that date. Firms often put makeshift technical solutions in place to meet the deadline, but then what happens is the technical solution silently becomes the structural solution. The result is that there’s no roadmap beyond that point to account for new data that needs to be tracked or changed, resulting in an issue of data quality and therefore explainability. 

COVID Response: Swings of the Regulatory Pendulum

To Bonhof, regulatory change management has never been more important as the pandemic response continues to fold. While he and his team have seen the easing of certain regulatory requirements, they have also seen the mounting impact of others.

On the one hand, the regulatory response to the pandemic has been to suspend certain requirements in order to alleviate the burden of regulation. However, at the same time, we’ve also seen an increase in requests for financial firms to implement certain risk measures from regulators such as the European Securities and Markets Authority

For example, we had an “intelligent lockdown” in the Netherlands that prohibited us from going to the shops or the cinema. As a result, this (like other lockdowns across the globe) had a large impact on service providers, as many businesses had outstanding loans with financial institutions and were suddenly not able to make good on those loans. This has led to a tipping of scales with regulators adding more capital reporting requirements, while continuing to suspend or delay implementation of other regulatory requirements. For example, ESMA deferred the final two phases of its bilateral margin requirements to provide additional operational capacity for counterparties to respond to the immediate impact of COVID-19. 

On the Importance of Innovation in IRM

While regulators have been more forgiving during the pandemic, they have also become increasingly more aware of all of the possible gap—bringing the topic of Integrated Risk Management (IRM) to the fore. Here’s Bonhof’s take on IRM.

Integrated Risk Management allows you to identify what risks exist within your firm, define a response to those risks, and then determine whether your firm is within that risk appetite. Ultimately, IRM combines all of those processes and rolls them up into a multi-level process chart where you can prioritize risks and pinpoint which ones are of the highest risk to your firm. 

IRM is such a hot concept right now because regulators are putting more emphasis on it.

As part of Synechron’s FinLabs RegTech accelerator suite, I’ve actually had the opportunity to work on automating parts of IRM. Knowing how effective your controls are is a key part of integrated risk management, so we built an intelligent control testing environment that maps a firm’s individual control statements into a decision tree that automatically runs against a data set to help firms quickly pinpoint whether a control is effective or not. This advancement frees up compliance teams’ valuable resources so they can focus on remediating any deficiencies.

These types of innovation are becoming more important as Integrated Risk Management continues to gain more traction. IRM is such a hot concept right now because regulators are putting more emphasis on it. For example, ESMA recently published a consultation paper that assessed the suitability of the management at financial institutions, which concluded that the highest levels of management (including at the board level) need to understand their firms’ requirements, how they are complying with them, and what the state of the firm’s risk management looks like.  

Clash of the Titans: Big Banking vs. Big Tech

As an innovator in his own right, Bonhof is naturally drawn to industry disruptors. In particular, he has been following the rise of digital banks and believes that it’s only a matter of time until Big Tech enters into the banking industry as well.

The rise in digital banks has served as a catalyst for digital transformation in the industry at large. In order to stay competitive with digital banks, traditional banks have worked to provide digital services to their customers. For customers, having a digital bank account becomes more of a commodity because it opens up a whole ecosystem of additional services around it. 

For digital banks, their competitive advantage is that they’re not burdened by a chain linked system of legacy tools or processes, so they can get it right immediately. Digital banks can be more nimble when it comes to things like digital client onboarding processes and company reporting. On the other hand, it’s difficult for digital banks to achieve the same scale as larger banks. Plus, they’re bound to face the same kind of regulatory requirements as incumbent banks and will need to comply with them, lessening some of their initial competitive edge.

When Big Tech enters the market, it will drive a significant change that some incumbent banks will likely not be able to transition through and will lose traction within the market. 

What I’m really curious about is when Big Tech will officially enter into the banking space. Today, we have Apple Pay and Google Pay, but I think that it’s just a matter of time before they’re adding banking services to their offering. At that point the market will change. Digital banks just mark the beginning of the banking industry’s digital transformation. When Big Tech enters the market, it will drive a significant change that some incumbent banks will likely not be able to transition through and will lose traction within the market. 

Financial Firms and Regulators to Step Up Their AI Game

With the high likelihood of Big Tech companies entering the market in addition to other innovations in financial services, Bonhof is encouraging the industry to direct its focus toward emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) now, before it’s too late.

I think regulators really need to step up their digital game. They need to understand the tech component that goes into digital banking. AFM just compiled an insightful trend report where they spoke around their fears about Big Tech entering into the financial market. Today, Big Tech is predominantly supervised by privacy watchdogs. But, if Big Tech entered the financial market tomorrow, financial market regulators would not always be allowed to share information with those supervisory agencies, so that would make supervision really difficult. 

Regulators are just now issuing responses around the use of AI, which center around the concepts of explainability and trustworthiness. Together, they are two sides of the same coin because they help explain the decisions that come out of algorithms and apply fair principles that limit their biases. However, I still think that we have a ways to go and that regulation around the use of AI will only continue to increase in the future as the digital market matures.

The Role of AI in Regulatory Compliance

According to Bonhof, the role of AI is not just limited to the mechanics of digital banking. It applies to regulatory compliance too.

We recognize that regulators are starting to provide guidelines around AI, so we are changing the way that we advise our clients about AI. AI was once the new and exciting thing to talk about. Now it’s the means to an end. We’re looking at where AI models can help firms improve explainability in their compliance processes. 

AI was once the new and exciting thing to talk about. Now it’s the means to an end.

Using robotics (or AI) helps automate certain regulatory compliance processes such as horizon scanning, and makes the outcomes of those processes more predictable and reliable. AI allows teams to focus less time doing the monotonous work of running these processes and more time on investigating outliers. Instead, the “robot” leads the processes and identifies areas where there are inconsistencies that require the review of compliance experts.

On Implementing RegTech: Final Advice

So, what’s Bonhof’s advice to firms that are looking to implement new technologies in their compliance programs? “Be really clear about what you want to achieve in your compliance program and therefore what you want the technology to achieve.”

First, you need to understand where you are and where you want to go. For instance, if your firm was just fined by a regulator, then you’ll likely need to find a solution that can help you become more compliant. On the other hand, if your organization is in a good place but needs to become more efficient, then it’s likely you’ll need a different tech stack than the firm that was recently fined. When you understand what you want to achieve by adding technology, then you can better pinpoint the right type of technology solution for your compliance program.


If you’d like to learn more about Synechron, visit their website. To learn more about Rick Bonhof, connect with him on LinkedIn

If you’d like to contact an Ascent team member, you can do so here. Stay tuned for our next interview from the lines of defense. All interviews will be featured in our monthly Cliff Notes newsletter, which you can subscribe to below.

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Easing Asset Management’s Regulatory Burden with RegTech

By Blog, Featured

(5 min read)

For any given trade, asset managers risk higher non-compliance fines for the regulations they know about, and also risk not knowing about all of the regulations that may apply.

The bombshell that was the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 radically remade the financial services landscape. It brought the global economy to its knees, set the stage for the longest bull market on record, and ushered in a new era of regulatory oversight.

And it is perhaps this last point which could have the most lasting effect. Because while the global economy has mostly recovered, and while at some point even this bull market will meet its bear, the new burden of regulatory oversight has transformed almost all sectors of financial services.

Asset management has certainly not been immune. Those managers looking to simply raise capital, bring in clients, and put up strong risk-adjusted returns are instead shouldering an increasingly complex regulatory burden.

A few facts can illustrate the deep strain of this weight: Every seven minutes a new regulatory update goes into effect. Also: Last year, the SEC published more than 2,750 enforcement actions, including 95 against public companies — the highest number in a decade

In short, for any given trade, asset managers risk higher non-compliance fines for the regulations they know about, and also risk not knowing about all of the regulations that may apply. 

But while the challenges of increased regulatory complexity may seem intractable and insurmountable, a nascent industry is determined to provide solutions to exactly these issues — the regulatory technology industry, or, RegTech.

In this article we’ll dive into what RegTech is and examine how its solutions can help asset managers escape from under the increasingly heavy weight of regulatory compliance.

What is RegTech?

In its simplest definition, RegTech is the application of technology to improve the way we manage regulatory compliance. RegTech companies are employing machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), blockchain, AI, and other technologies, in an attempt to streamline compliance processes, increase efficiencies, and lower costs and risks.

Initially, many RegTech providers focused on solutions relevant to retail and institutional banks, especially around anti-money laundering and fraud protection. But the technologies of RegTech have advanced enough in recent years — particularly as relates to ML, NLP, and AI — that automation can now meaningfully streamline the work of Compliance teams. For asset managers, the timing of this couldn’t be better, as new regulation rollouts like MiFID II and GDPR only further raise the stakes for trade and transaction reporting.

READ MORE: What is RegTech and Why Does it Matter?


Revolutionizing How Asset Managers Handle Compliance

As RegTech has blossomed over the last handful of years, a plethora of solutions have popped up to help with solving problems across the regulatory compliance landscape.

Some of these operate more like point solutions, solving one particular problem for asset managers. For example, one massive lift facing many asset management Compliance teams is the production of hundreds of disclosures that firms are required to produce throughout the year. RegTech solutions now exist that employ robotic process automation (RPA) to turn this laborious, manual process into an automated one.

Similarly, RegTech can help streamline investor onboarding, reducing the process down to minutes and making it fully digitized. And NLP can be applied to the onerous task of communications management, digitizing vast troves of telephone conversations so they can then be mined via machine learning in order to catch potential red flags.

But the truly revolutionary power of RegTech lies beyond these point solutions. In its most impactful form, RegTech offers ways to leverage the big data of regulatory compliance in order to significantly streamline labor intensive processes, such as determining which obligations apply to your business.

For example, imagine if every time another seven minutes ticked by and one of those new regulatory updates was introduced, you were able to know nearly instantaneously whether it applied to your business and how it might impact your policies and procedures. Imagine if you were able to approach a massive new regulation like GDPR and — rather than feeling that it would take hundreds of hours and a meaningful chunk of your bottom line to untangle what it meant for your company — you were able to see a complete list of your obligations in mere minutes.

This is the power of Ascent’s RegulationAI™, a true innovation in RegTech. Our technology leverages machine learning and natural language processing to automate the most tedious and error-prone parts of compliance. 

Based on your firm’s unique profile, Ascent automatically delivers the obligations and rule changes that are relevant to your business, cutting out significant white noise so that you can focus on a much narrower set of obligations. 

Ascent is faster and more comprehensive than humans alone, saving Risk and Compliance Officers hundreds of hours of manually researching, reading, and analyzing regulation so that they can instead focus on the more critical tasks.

READ ARTICLE: “But Does RegTech Actually Work?” 3 Ways Financial Firms and RegTechs Can Bridge the Trust Gap


Reduce the Weight of Your Regulatory Burden with Ascent.

In a world where the trend toward passive management has pushed fees ever downwards, asset managers have to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Leveraging RegTech solutions can help reign in the skyrocketing costs of compliance, meaningfully reduce the time Compliance teams are spending on laborious, manual tasks, and protect against the risks of human error in the process.

LEARN MORE: Click here to learn about Ascent Solutions

Unleashing Wealth Managers with the Power of RegTech

By Blog

Wealth management, like every sector of the financial industry, has come in for its share of regulatory attention in recent years. Whereas the challenge of leveraging “big data” to find hidden insights dominated conversations among wealth management professionals ten years ago, industry discussions today center around complying with KYC (“know your customer”) rules and defending the suitability of investment recommendations.

As regulatory requirements have broadened and deepened across asset classes and jurisdictions, they have inflicted an increasingly heavy tax on wealth managers to ensure compliance and to keep their clients (and themselves) out of trouble.

In many ways, the growth of the regulatory burden constitutes the hidden underbelly of the FinTech boom. Distilling opportunity from an ocean of data is one thing. Exploiting that opportunity while staying on the right side of regulations can be quite another.

New RegTech ventures have stepped into the breach to support wealth managers in meeting regulatory compliance obligations. Here are a few of the ways they’re changing the wealth management landscape.

Untangling Complex Regulations to Unleash Business Potential

Regulatory text constitutes a dense, confusing stew of proscriptions and obligations written in a language foreign to most readers. Digesting and making sense of a single requirement applicable to a single asset class in a single jurisdiction takes time, patience, and a patience for complexity.

There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for individual wealth managers to absorb and implement regulation on their own, try as they might. And so, ingrained and intractable regulatory complexity inflicts a dual risk: for any given trade, an asset manager risks non-compliance with the regulations he or she knows about, and also risks not knowing about all of the regulations that may apply. 

Enter AI-driven compliance management solutions like Ascent.

Ascent is leading the way in the development of a new class of technology that teaches machines to parse and analyze regulatory text. What takes humans hours to (barely) absorb takes an AI-driven algorithm mere minutes to dissect and analyze.

These solutions hold the promise of revolutionizing wealth management by substantially reducing the risk of non-compliance and ignorance of regulatory applicability. In time, they will be able to tell wealth managers, in advance of a trade and in plain language, exactly which regulations apply to an investment strategy and exactly how to execute it in compliance with the law.

In so doing, RegTech solutions will enable FinTech/big data to achieve its full potential, freeing managers to pursue investment strategies without the fear of non-compliance. 

READ ARTICLE: How Ascent Simplifies Regulatory Change Management with Automation


Facilitating Compliance Management

RegTech also has its sights set on facilitating core compliance management tasks. For example, there are already solutions on the market (and more in the pipeline) to automate anti-money laundering efforts, such as conducting multi-jurisdictional screening of customers and identifying the beneficial ownership of investment vehicles (even those formed offshore). By building data networks that increase investor transparency, RegTechs promise to take the guesswork and relative risk out of doing business with a new customer in a new jurisdiction.

Likewise, RegTech solutions can help marry two related and increasingly-important regulatory functions: KYC data collection and suitability analysis. Not only can they facilitate and automate the collection of critical KYC information directly from new customers and from third-party data networks, compliance management solutions can also parse that information and derive insight about whether an investment strategy fits an investor’s profile and long-term objectives. 

Finally, RegTech continues to develop new and better ways to streamline compliance reporting. Existing and emerging solutions generate reports automatically, making filing much more efficient. Increasingly, RegTech delivers value for wealth managers by developing tools that recognize and flag issues (trading patterns, capital flows, etc.) that will likely attract regulatory scrutiny, giving firms the opportunity to tackle a thorny problem before an inspector from the SEC or FCA comes calling.

READ ARTICLE: Exam Time? Tips from a Former Regulator on How to Prepare


Speeding Up and Adding Precision To Rule-Making

The same compliance automation solutions that help asset managers understand and comply with regulations will also soon be put to use crafting and testing new regulations. New technology will help eliminate the vexing problem of inconsistent or contradictory provisions by giving regulators and other stakeholders the ability to see an entire body of regulations from “30,000 feet” and to model how changing regulatory text here will have an impact on obligations over there. They will also create a more streamlined process of collaborative rule-making, linking all stakeholders together and giving them the tools to track and analyze proposed amendments in real-time.

In facilitating insight, efficiency, and collaboration in rule-making, RegTech solutions also hold the promise to do something greater: they will help develop regulators develop rules that actually address market conditions as they exist at the time of a final rule issuance, instead of the conditions that existed when the lengthy rule-making process began (but have since evolved). This will in turn allow for less costly, more precise rules, eliminating market inefficiencies that result from overbroad rules that throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater by inhibiting legitimate investment much more than they prevent illegitimate practices. 

READ ARTICLE: Ascent Selected by GFIN for Regulatory Cross-Border Pilot


Ascent Leads the Way

At Ascent, we strive to develop regulatory change management and compliance management solutions that free wealth managers and other financial industry professionals from the time-consuming, expensive task of regulatory compliance, so that they can do what they do best: build relationships, develop business, and implement the wisdoms gleaned from their technology backend.

LEARN MORE: Click here to learn about Ascent Solutions.


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