Happy New Year!
I always enjoy writing an annual review at this time of year. I’m surprised how quickly a year passes yet amazed how much our team and clients have achieved in what can seem like such a brief period!
2019 – growth and vision
Axiom has certainly had a productive 12 months. In numbers, it’s been a year of rapid growth with an 88% increase in top-line revenue; an expansion of our product set from one to five distinct solutions; further investment taking our total raised to £2.4M, and ongoing expansion of the sales and delivery teams seeing our headcount rise significantly.
But the numbers themselves are less exciting than the increasing maturity of ours and our clients’ vision for RegTech which has progressed dramatically since we started as a point-solution for CASS compliance (Client Assets).
2019 was clearly a year in which SMCR preparations dominated for many firms, but the surprise has been how many firms are seeing this not as ‘yet another compliance burden’, but as an opportunity to re-engineer their compliance operations for business benefit.
The scope of SMCR has forced firms to reconsider compliance holistically and we are seeing an increasing number looking to link upstream and downstream processes from horizon scanning, through rules-mapping, to policy development, control design, delegation, evidencing and reporting. The logic to this is clear but the practical difficulties for firms of any size have historically made this a non-starter.
However, with the huge leap forward in RegTech in the last three years it is now possible to connect and automate the elements of this compliance pipeline to gain governance, efficiency and risk management benefits that were previously only theoretical.
Third-party oversight and compliance monitoring
Furthermore, the potential of RegTech for third-party oversight is now a reality with the most forward-looking firms and third-party administrators offering near-real-time transparency using Axiom’s platform. With outsourcing so prevalent in the sector, this stands all stakeholders in good stead given the FCA’s continued focus on outsourcing arrangements and the size of fines levied where firms are found to fall short.
We found it very interesting to note that in the Thompson Reuters RegTech survey last year it was Compliance Monitoring that came top as the area of compliance that firms thought would be most affected by the rise of technology.
This certainly resonates with our own experience. The development of our product suite has been in lockstep with the needs of our clients and we have co-created each solution with at least one client partner heavily involved and advising throughout the design process.
Greater than the sum of the parts
This guidance has led us to focus on four further functionality areas, being SMCR (with an emphasis on evidencing of reasonable steps), breach and issue management, automation of regulatory checklists, and oversight of third-party outsourcing.
Far from being isolated use-cases, we’ve seen how our client’s key workflows in these areas fit together. This provides a new grip on some of the historically most difficult areas of regulatory compliance to automate. With each of these areas supported in an integrated manner, firms can come very close to realising an automated compliance monitoring platform providing leverage to first, second and third lines of defence, as well as in preparation for external audits and visits from the regulator.
That’s not to say that automating each individual area doesn’t bring good benefits (it does) but where we see greatest benefits accruing for firms is by rolling out a consistent approach to regulatory compliance across the enterprise.
A data-first view of compliance
Once firms have implemented a single structured repository for regulatory content and real-time control operation and evidencing data, there is real potential to reap benefits from some of the most promising technologies in compliance including predictive analytics and machine learning.
If we can provide firms with a way to dramatically automate and improve their regulatory risk management by running powerful algorithms on real-time compliance data flows then we will have helped the industry take a huge step forward in reducing the regulatory burden whilst realising the benefits that the regulation is intended to bring to the market as a whole.
This is where the team at Axiom and the visionary leaders in our client firms get extremely excited and where we will continue to concentrate our efforts in the year ahead.
We look forward to sharing the results with you as the year progresses!
All best wishes,