In recent years, the scope and number of regulations have skyrocketed across major industries worldwide. In the financial industry alone, over 50,000 pieces of legislation have come into force in the past decade. As national and regional regulators seek to implement common standards, for example around data protection, regulatory turbulence is only going to increase, and the challenge of ensuring their activities are compliant will undoubtedly continue to shape the business environment for many, especially businesses who are engaged in digital and, by their nature, cross-border activities.
Major banks and financial services providers, as well as new, digital-first, market entrants, are using Apiax to embed compliance into their current systems and processes to ensure their business operations remain highly efficient. Apiax’s users can embed compliance into everything they do – whether that is offering the right product to the right person, in the right market, or onboarding a new client and offering best in class investment advice.
Here Philip Schoch CEO of Apiax discusses the importance of regulatory compliance.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
Regulatory compliance knowledge, and the policies which ultimately shape and determine what a business can or can’t do in an industry or market, have traditionally been shared across businesses via paper-based handbooks and manuals, or during ad hoc discussions with the legal and compliance teams. Some compliance teams might publish their policies on the intranet, often in pdf format. Or share checklists that condense key policies into a spread sheet document with individual teams. That is not an efficient digital solution.
Many of your readers would agree that spread sheets are great if you are an accountant, but it is not fit for the purpose of managing an organisation’s compliance structure that is crucial for business activities. Not least because keeping that sort of static document up to date is hugely labour-intensive. At the same time, businesses cannot afford to wait to make critical business decisions. Neither can they afford to get those decisions wrong. They need to know that they are compliant, quickly, so they can get on with the job at hand. Apiax enables them to do exactly that.
How has this changed over the past few years?
It might be easier to start with what hasn’t changed, which is the increasing number of regulations. As a result doing business, particularly across borders, can be complicated, especially in highly regulated sectors, like banking and finance. So ensuring compliance with the latest regulations, and any future changes to those regulations, is now a full-time job for many businesses.
Ensuring teams have access to that regulatory knowledge is also a major challenge for many organisations, but we have taken things a step further and our award-winning solutions allow businesses to embed compliance into their business activities. Replacing out-of-date knowledge sources like handbooks, PDFs, and endless memoranda, with simple to use apps and APIs, which provide users with clear yes/no answers to their most pressing compliance questions.
You don’t need to be an expert to use our solutions. We are democratising access to compliance knowledge and empowering client-facing teams to focus on what matters. On the flip side, compliance teams can start to truly enable their businesses, avoid ambiguity, and share critical compliance knowledge across their organisation more efficiently and faster without losing a heartbeat.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Much of the innovation we have seen in the digital age has been driven by agile teams, who want to challenge and change the status quo, and help their users to do things more efficiently. We are no different, and we are laser focused on remaining agile and creative, as we empower organizations to bridge the gap between compliance, business, and technology. No matter what industry they work in.
We have built agility into all our organisational structures. Empowering our teams with accountability and responsibility, while giving them the space to be creative. We are all techies at heart, but legal and compliance is in our DNA. Between us, we have spent over 270 years working in legal and compliance, and over 230 years in software engineering. Working with some of the biggest banks and financial services providers in the World. We know the challenges these businesses face, and we are determined to help them to do things differently.
What ideas have been implemented?
We want to enable any business to apply their compliance knowledge exactly where they need it, whether in their daily interactions with their customers, or by integrating it into their business-critical systems. So, after transforming complex written and static regulations into digital, dynamic, machine-readable compliance rules, we provide access to that knowledge and content in the simplest way possible.
However, what works easily for a digital first payment or crypto start-up is not necessarily “easy” for a global bank or financial services provider because of limitations on legacy systems. Therefore we developed easy to integrate, case centric APIs, which can plug into an organisation’s existing system. But one size does not fit all, so we offer our users several ways to use Apiax, including lean or full integration, alongside our standalone simple to use apps. Bottom line is everyone has access to Apiax, no matter the limitations of their existing system.
Like any agile and creative team, we want to work with the best, so we work with some of the world’s most trusted regulatory experts to ensure our solutions are ‘fed’ with up to date regulatory knowledge.
Finally, as with any start-up, the scalability of our solutions is key. Apiax is cloud-based and configured for redundancy and high availability. Users can also integrate our cloud offering into their private processes without compromising on quality or security. We already cover more than 160 jurisdictions, and are expanding our digital regulatory rule repository every day.
What benefits have these brought?
Alongside the validation we are seeing in terms of market fit and growth, Apiax and its contributors are starting to gain international recognition for the work we are doing in compliance. Our partners, Credit Suisse, just won the ‘Best Private Bank for Use of RegTech Globally’ at the Professional Wealth Management (PWM) Wealth Tech Awards for our ongoing collaboration on cross border compliance. We have also just been named the ‘Most Promising Fintech Start-up’ at the 6th Annual Asian Private Banker Technology Awards.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Like anyone who is selling a digital product, particularly one that digitizes an organization’s compliance function, we face the challenge of adapting to the growth strategies of digital-first startups; while navigating a saturated and traditionally low-tech industry, like banking and finance. Bridging the gap between new technological capabilities and the needs and customs of an established industry can be tricky; but we believe our suite of options offer everything a business needs to embed compliance into their existing systems, irrespective of their size.
On a different note, recruiting top talent can also be tricky. In fact, finding the right, high-quality people to join us on our journey is our top challenge right now. As a successful, early-stage technology start-up, we are in a constant talent competition with big technology companies. Saying that we are always looking out for innovative ways to attract and retain the top talent, which has, and will continue to help us to scale our business globally. Despite those challenges, we are growing fast. Despite a global pandemic, from the beginning of 2020 until the start of 2021, we have more than doubled in size. Growing our team from 35 to more than 70 people. At the same time, we are very proud of our diversity. Our team is nearly half female, and we have team members from 18 countries across the globe.
Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?
I believe fintech has already changed the banking and financial world. Mostly due to the fact that digital banks came in to disrupt a very traditional industry, so if any of the more traditional financial institutions chose not to innovate and ride that wave (at least in part), they knew their bottom lines would suffer. At the end of the day, companies depend on their customers, and if your customers sense that there is a better option available, they will make that shift pretty quickly.
We know that financial services providers who choose to embed compliance into their business activities will have a very high competitive advantage over anyone who doesn’t. FinTechs, by their nature, are more likely to adopt such a solution and are therefore well on their way to achieving compliance by design.
In a similar way, FinTech helps with recruiting. More young and high-skilled talent are looking for opportunities to be part of that change. Mostly, I would say, because they can see the difference between working for a traditional versus a disruptive company in the financial industry. The competition is high at both ends of the scale, but with the right values and propositions, companies, like Apiax, can still recruit the best talent.
At Apiax, we see the future of regulatory compliance being central to financial businesses being able to operate efficiently. Front office, legal and compliance teams complementing each other to drive sustained business growth. Simply by embedding compliance into everything they do.