The Other Road To RegTech

Mon 07 Nov 2016

RegTech isn’t new. It might not have always been called RegTech but it has been in existence for years

Conventional wisdom dictates that the growth of regulation-driven technology solutions in financial services occurred as a result of the FinTech revolution. Indeed, RegTech is consistently referred to as FinTech’s little brother and as a by-product of almost ten years of regulatory growth, both related to the financial crisis and not. But the start-up, niche solution story isn’t the full one. A cursory look at the history of automated solutions and compliance expertise tells us so.

Equiniti KYC Solutions started out in in 2008. Enabling banks to carry out a fundamental regulatory duty, whereby onboarding due diligence procedures must be precise and the latest details for every client and their transactions need to be monitored, KYC Passport automates a great deal of the process. Popping up with a technology-based solution to a regulatory problem is what RegTech is meant to be about. But Equiniti KYC Solutions has been operating for almost a decade.

Equiniti’s complaint management solutions have always been built with the automation of FCA reporting in mind. Configured to meet the business model, they amalgamate data from across a bank’s customer touch points to enable root cause detection and easier remediation.

Neither of these solutions span out of the FinTech bubble in the last 18 months and they have not emerged from startup hubs or the FCA’s Project Innovate. Indeed, the wider Equiniti business has built its reputation on operating in highly regulated markets, when other tech businesses have historically stayed clear of financial services because regulation has been seen as limiting the ability to disrupt, rather than enhancing it.

Rather than a sudden breakthrough in technology enabling businesses to deliver solutions that would otherwise have been unworkable – this isn’t an internet or a spinning jenny moment. It isn’t even a big data or quantum computing moment. RegTech represents a linear evolution rather than a revolution, where solutions have become more configurable for less cost and more adaptable. These factors have cloud hosting to thank more than anything else.

Scott Shields, Managing Director – Enterprise Workflow, Equiniti, notes:

Risk Management, which includes negating the risk of non-compliance, is the obvious reason for adopting a complaints management system in the first place. There is no point having several different systems all aimed at different elements of managing the risk generated by complaints, including revenue loss, when you could just have one.

But while technological automation is fast begging to lighten the load, where is the next big step going to come from? After all there are areas of regulation that will always be difficult to automate. The work that another Equiniti business, Prism Cosec, do in the boardrooms of top companies relies heavily on the knowledge of people who have been in that profession for a long time and who make it their job to keep on top of regulation.

Kerin Williams, Prism’s Managing Director, says that the RegTech evolution can only push compliance so far. “When we talk about regulation we’re talking about rules relating to human interaction, relationships and culture, as well as processes, that would be very difficult to quantify in the way that you can quantify complaints. However having that regulatory knowledge within a technology-focussed business ensures that the next regulation innovation is only so far away and that we’re ideally placed when it happens.”