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BFCSA: ASIC Propaganda - The "WillBees" ASIC gets tough on 'regtech'

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ASIC gets tough on 'regtech'

Australian Financial Review Mar 27, 2019 3.47pm

James Eyers


Banks will have to explain why they aren't using the latest technology to improve their compliance, as the corporate regulator takes a "bolder" approach after the shortcomings revealed by the banking royal commission.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission executive director of financial services Michael Saadat said an “if not, why not” approach would be adopted to force banks to explain why when they aren't using the latest technology, including systems offered by start-ups.

Mr Saadat also told The Australian Financial Review Banking & Wealth Summit that it was talking to Commonwealth Bank about its roll out of artificial intelligence technology to help it understand its legal obligations.

“In the past, we have probably more cautious about being prescriptive about particular types of technology, but it is looking like we will be bolder about that in the future,” Mr Saadat said.

 “I don’t think we would say: ‘you must use a particular type of technology’, but it will probably reach the point where if you aren’t using a type of technology, you have some explaining to do," he said.

"We will certainly be encouraging very strongly the adoption of these technologies, so we achieve the end outcome we are looking for without the expensive compliance overlay that otherwise would be required."

Regetch 'critical' at CBA

Commonwealth Bank executive general manager of compliance Jane Couchman revealed it was in discussions with ASIC about using a system developed alongside Chicago-based Ascent Technologies to use natural language processing to read regulations.

“We think it has legs, and can plug into our databases where we have most of the risk information so we can get much better data out to businesses for end to end management of obligations,” Ms Couchman said.

So-called "regtech" forms a “critical part of our strategy for compliance”, she said, and CBA has “a regtech roadmap which involves looking at artificial intelligence to digest the pipeline of regulations coming down”.

ASIC uses AI to listen in

ASIC is using AI to improve its own monitoring of the market, including testing a system to listen to insurance sales phone calls, after the royal commission criticised some life insurers for hawking products to unsuspecting customers.

“It is picking up about the tone, the hesitation in the call, the proportion of speaking done by the sales rep versus the consumer - more nuanced factors to identify whether we can identify pressure selling,” Mr Saadat said.

He also said he agreed with outgoing National Australia Bank chairman Ken Henry at the royal commission who said it wasn’t possible to have a perfect record on compliance.

Mr Saadat said the expectation was for banks to identify and fix problems quickly, and minimise the issues.

RegTech Association chief executive Deborah Young said she wanted to see the average two-year period it takes banks to determine whether they will buy a new technology system reduced.

But she confirmed deployments are “definitely happening right now”, across anti-money laundering, product audit, income assessment, adaptive learning, and document digitisation.

The association is also trying to push its start-up members into financial advice and superannuation firms. She said all the major banks are “taking it seriously” but that only CBA is a member of the association.

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