After Brian Clark witnessed the under-regulation, risk-taking and lax compliance practices that led to the 2008 global financial crisis, he founded Ascent. The RegTech company keeps businesses ahead of increasing regulation, helping them reduce regulatory and reputational risk. Today, the team is comprised of compliance officers, lawyers, data scientists and technologists who, in addition to having deep knowledge about the regulatory space, are passionate about helping the industry win at compliance.
What is Ascent – what problem are you solving?
Ascent is the groundbreaking platform that automatically delivers the obligations and rule changes that apply to each specific customer, backed by a powerful suite of obligations management capabilities.
The problem is that financial services firms are drowning in regulation. The status quo of manually researching, reading, and analysing oceans of regulatory text is becoming nearly impossible, not to mention incredibly expensive. In order to keep pace, businesses have had to increase headcount or hire armies of costly consultants. When all is said and done, businesses end up spending about 8% of their revenue on compliance alone.
Ascent was created to solve this $64 billion global problem. Using sophisticated artificial intelligence, Ascent provides the customer with targeted regulatory knowledge, accomplishing in minutes what takes people hundreds or even thousands of hours to do manually. By automating the most tedious and error-prone aspects of horizon scanning, change management, and obligations management, Ascent frees customers from costly error, uncertainty, and risk. An industry trailblazer, Ascent is providing Knowledge-as-a-Service (KaaS) as a new way to navigate the increasingly complex world of regulations quickly, efficiently, and most important of all, reliably.
What is RegTech and why does it seem to be having a ‘moment’?
RegTech is the application of technology (especially emergent technologies like artificial intelligence) to improve the way we manage regulatory compliance; it includes solutions around change and obligations management, data management, KYC, and risk management, among others. The reason for the RegTech boom is one of pure necessity: regulation is increasing, the cost of compliance is rising, and Risk and Compliance teams are mired in constantly-changing regulatory complexity.
The only way forward is with technology, which can process regulatory information faster and more accurately than humans alone. The global investment in RegTech continues to grow, and the implementation of technology solutions will be the norm for every business in the coming decade. For most firms, being left behind on this count is simply not an option.
Your CEO was a CapMarkets regulator during the 2008 crash – how has that experience impacted Ascent today?
In 2008, Ascent Founder and CEO Brian Clark was working as a capital markets regulator. When the global financial meltdown occurred, Brian had a front row seat, witnessing first-hand how under-regulation spurred risk-taking and lax compliance practices that helped inflate the bubble. The pendulum then swung the other way, drowning businesses in complex regulation. It was clear something needed to be done. Thus, Ascent was born. With the use of advanced automation, Ascent keeps businesses ahead of increasing regulation, helping them reduce regulatory and reputational risk. Today, the team is comprised of compliance officers, lawyers, data scientists and technologists who, in addition to having deep knowledge about the regulatory space, are passionate about helping our customers win at compliance.
Who are some of the clients you work with?
Ascent is proud to work with global Tier 1 banks like ING and Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Ascent also serves a number of other banks, broker-dealers, introducing brokers, asset and wealth managers, and other financial services firms around the world.
What advice would you give new startups in this space?
Listen carefully to your customers and support them in the way they work day-to-day. With RegTech being a relatively new industry, it’s important that solutions providers meet their customers where they are.
Ascent will be presenting at RegTECHTalents on November 13th as part of the FinTECHTalents Festival.