Digital-First For Complex Compliance Challenges

Get insight from David Cowland, Head of Compliance Ops at Fidelity International, on tackling the thorniest of compliance issues with the latest digital approaches.

Posted by: 
Alexis Fox-Mills
Sep 8, 2020

September 8, 2020

Solving the most complex compliance challenges is about getting insight from data, not getting bogged down by it.

David Cowland, Head of Compliance Ops at Fidelity International, was our special guest in this Best Practice podcast. Talking with our CEO, Donald Gillies, David reveals how RegTech can be used for the graft on compliance data, so knowledgeable experts can craft insights for their business.

Leverage technology to innovate

David says his “...role is less about knowledge of compliance and more about bringing Reg Tech to focus on different ways of working and innovating in compliance.”

By using good tech; the right Reg Tech, David believes financial services organisations can automate tasks that aren’t adding value when it comes to managing compliance processes.

Automating the quantitive risk and compliance work frees valuable compliance experts to be proactive around qualitative work. This is important in a world where demands on a compliance team's time are increasing as regulation becomes more complex and global trading and digitisation change fast.

Tech crunches data. People create insight.

Firms that need, for example, to monitor trades for market abuse and potential fraud in financial transactions have to wade through huge amounts of data. This can be time consuming to do and very hard to analyse.

Data is created and shared in thousands of ways and in many platforms from telephone to email to Zoom to Bloomberg chat. It can be nigh on impossible to plot a way through this data across so many platforms. In turn, it's also difficult to extract insight and answer questions like - why a trade happened when it did. Why the trader decided to sell when they did. Is there something suspicious going on?

Finding a path through compliance data to get to real insight is where technology can bear the heavy load and compliance people can use their experience to support the business.

Compliance teams have tended to be reactive. We’ve tended to be people reliant. Now we have to be a lot more proactive and take questions to the business. That means saying “this is happening”...

Compliance leaders are getting on the front foot with tech picking up the workload crunching data, so compliance officers can focus on insight rather than getting through masses of data.

Compliance supporting business development

If compliance experts aren't brought into a business process early enough, delays can occur as they try and re-trace to ascertain whether the process is compliant with regulation. The stakes are high and risk has to be managed.

"People can spend 90% of their time trying to get to the answer. Grinding out the data and only having 10% of the time to actually provide insight. So often the answer is then no, because we were not brought in early enough."

David sees the potential for technology to enable compliance functions to help businesses grow. There is a realisation that proactive compliance teams are a business enabler, rather than being a blocker to progress if they are involved early in a process and have the right technology.

Taking a digital-first approach can help solve the most complex compliance challenges, as people put their brains behind problems, once tech solutions have done the leg work.

Listen in

You can access the podcast on demand and listen to all David has to say about solving compliance challenges.


We hope you find it useful and please get in touch if you'd like to contribute to the conversation or discuss a solution.

More about the series

Each of our best practice sessions features a leader in financial services and compliance.

Our aim is to provide a practical resource to the financial services community, enabling professionals to share in developing and adopting digital-first strategies.

Speakers share past experiences and theories for the future. They talk about technology and how this changes customer experience, company focus and market positions.

Get in touch

If you would like to know more about the series or if you would like to find previous podcasts, please get in touch - we would love to hear from you!


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