Banking compliance departments need to get up to speed with the latest information management technology, writes Emma Isichei, Worldwide Category Director, Capture Solutions, Kodak Alaris.
Compliance officers in the financial sector have a tough job. Whether they work in banking, insurance or capital markets, these employees are tasked with ensuring their companies comply with regulatory requirements and internal policies. With scrutiny intensifying, fines and other penalties on the rise, companies are making their compliance departments a priority.
As technology changes the way companies communicate with their customers, accelerating the pace at which financial services’ business operates, the speed of compliance departments’ operations must keep up – across information coming in, moving around the organisation and finally going out to stakeholders.
Compliance’s seat in the c-suite
Just how important is the compliance department? While getting new customers and serving existing ones is top priority for any financial services provider, proper and timely regulatory compliance ranks a close second. Most compliance officers – 77 percent, according to Accenture’s 2015 Compliance Risk Study – report directly to their company’s board or CEO, giving them a seat at the decision-makers’ table.
Compliance is also a significant change agent; 80 percent of respondents to the same study say compliance will be the “pre-eminent group” able to affect culture change within their firms over the next five years. “In our view,” Accenture states, “expectations of compliance have never been higher,” with the function needing to leverage its influence to become a “positive and disruptive force” in how banks and other financial services firms innovate and evolve.
How compliance is changing
Compliance officers operate in a range of industries, from healthcare to telecoms to agriculture. But in no area is the role more important than in financial services. The maze of laws, regulations and internal policies, not to mention the increased scrutiny used to oversee firms, makes financial services compliance particularly challenging. The changing ways in which customers – from large institutions to individual investors – are interacting with financial firms further complicates matters. What’s more, the increasing burden of digital documentation, email records and other online communications means today’s compliance officers must place a greater focus on information management.
Several key technology areas need particular attention, and if handled correctly, they can pay significant dividends to compliance departments:
- Data management: With the increased volume of data within an organisation, it is vital that the business understands what it has, how it is stored and what the ‘journey’ of this information is, as they need to be able to comply with the audits and reporting that they need in order to regularly provide the relevant regulatory agencies, and also, the general public.
- Data analytics: It’s not enough to just store data. Financial services companies need analytics tools to uncover trends (and pain points) as early as possible. This is especially important in the compliance area, where getting ahead of issues can make all the difference. Handling the issue before it gets out of control can help avoid a large fine and negative press.
- Communications management: Managing customer interactions is particularly challenging today, as customers visit retail locations, interact with call centres and communicate with the bank via email, text, web, live chat and more. Managing all of this unstructured or semi-structured data is an important task for today’s compliance departments. While digital communication is difficult to manage, paper trails may be even harder.
- Improved data management tools – Including more automated document workflows and analytics are needed to pull ‘needles out of the data haystacks’. This can turn data into an asset rather than a burden.
The compliance answer
Leveraging advanced data management tools and processes can transform the role of compliance. At a time when compliance departments are being inundated by more data than ever, these tools are essential. Modern information management solutions that enable web and mobile capture can help financial services compliance departments get their job done better, faster and at a lower cost and are well-suited to help transform document and data management-heavy departments such as regulatory compliance via improved workflow automation.
Furthermore, it is vital that a business has the right capture process, whether at point of need, centralised or though mobile tools, as this can turn data into an asset rather than a burden. Better solutions can also help legal departments keep up with new regulations and ensure compliance is on top of evolving rules and laws. The entire organisation benefits from improved operational efficiency, and concerns about potential fines and penalties for non-compliance are reduced.