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Analysing the role of technology in compliance and regulatory structures
This paper does not set out to be an expert treatise on RegTech or FinTech, or any of the other catchy compound words that have entered our daily lexicon. It simply outlines one organisation’s journey in determining the need for a technological solution for a myriad of compliance obligations. The firm in which the author works has eight (soon to be nine) offices around the world, with two in Australia, and one in the UK, Germany, Switzerland (applying for registration), South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and the USA. There are some group entities also licenced in Canada and the Cayman Islands. Some regimes require more than one licence (eg, five in Australia alone). The subsequent regulatory burden is significant. Add to that a global insurance programme, a global taxation programme, a global risk management framework, a global governance framework plus the day to day burden of simply running a business — the compliance obligations are huge. Yet, on number of staff alone, the present author’s organisation is nothing like some of the massive financial behemoths around the world, a potential cause of compliance management headaches. This paper is about IFM Investors’ experience in implementing technology into the business to become more effective, and less intrusive on the front line teams when it comes to meeting firm-wide compliance tasks. In doing so, IFM Investors had some learnings along the way from which readers might avoid some of the challenges faced.
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Gerard Fullarton is a risk and compliance specialist with a financial services background. He held various roles in one of Australia’s larger banks for over 31 years, including training, asset structuring, and operational and credit risk. He now works with one of the largest fund managers in Australia and one of the largest infrastructure managers in the world (measured by funds under management). Gerard began in-branch banking in the 1970s before moving into other areas of banking, establishing the risk and compliance team in the asset servicing division of the bank before redundancy. Gerard began his ‘second career’ by establishing the corporate risk and compliance framework and function at IFM Investors in 2010, at a time when the entity had 180 staff and approximately AUS$28bn in funds under management. The entity now has 350 staff across eight global offices and AUS$100bn+ in funds under management. The risk and compliance team also grew exponentially and now has 11 members in Melbourne, New York, London and Tokyo. He continues to focus on risk and governance within the organisation and build on his knowledge base, currently undertaking a graduate certificate in the psychology of risk at the Australian Catholic University’s Melbourne campus. Gerard also served for 25 years in the Australian Army Reserve, leaving the organisation with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2, having experienced hands-on risk management on a regular basis in his logistical role. He is a qualified workplace trainer and assessor, and undertakes risk and compliance training throughout the organisation.