I love talking about risk, and I’m excited to get to talk about it here in the context of leading risk & compliance for Synctera in Canada. I’ve worked on compliance teams at large institutions where I wanted to feel closer to our products and customers, and I’ve worked on fintech compliance teams where I wanted more opportunity to collaborate with our bank partners. By some fluke, I now get to build compliance strategies that help bring banks and companies building banking products together to build new, innovative products for Canadians.
What role does a compliance team play in financial innovation?
Compliance teams are often positioned as reactive to product asks, or a checkpoint that product teams need to pass in order to launch a new thing. I believe that the most successful financial companies are ones that position product and risk teams as collaborative partners, and that appreciate that regulatory strategy and product strategy are closely intertwined.
Compliance teams shouldn’t be blockers, they should be unblockers.
Our superpower is a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape that applies to our customers combined with an appreciation of the pain points that often impact companies launching financial products for the first time. Most regulatory frameworks are not designed with fintechs in mind, or don’t make innovating feel accessible. If Synctera can help mitigate common pain points for fintech teams – in a way that is compliant, customer-driven, and secure – that can potentially open up a new market segment, create new lucrative business models, and ultimately build symbiotic relationships within our industry.
How is Synctera Canada uniquely positioned?
Synctera Canada is a registered money service business (MSB) with FINTRAC and that’s a huge opportunity; being a Canadian MSB is not a limiting factor here, quite the opposite. Our model allows us to take a more active role in designing compliance frameworks that are tailored to our customers within the program and trust structure established with our bank partners.
Understanding your customers and your risks comes down to your data. It’s a challenge to monitor activity across numerous ledgers, using a handful of separate vendors, and often without a unified view of a customer. We understand this frustration and want to help organize this data into something compliance teams can more efficiently use.
We also have the benefit of building relationships between sponsor banks and our clients who are building financial products and services. We are, in a way, scaling trust – my team’s role, in part, is to build trust with the bank’s risk & compliance teams, to understand our collective expectations and regulatory obligations, and to manage them with our clients in a way that maintains risks within defined limits.
We can help turn what is often framed as friction into product features that contribute to a positive customer experience. We can’t do it alone, though. For example, we have best-in-class partners joining us in Canada, like Socure, that focus on specific, yet extremely important, things like automated identity document verification.
It’s no secret that MSBs and payment service providers (PSPs) often face hurdles to accessing reliable banking based primarily on perceived higher risk activity. Our model seeks to change this; with a strong bank partner and an established risk framework, we can dig into the nuance and diversity within the MSB umbrella and create paths to success for clients building in this space. And looking ahead at the Retail Payment Activities Act (RPAA) and its looming impact on the costs to building and operating as a PSP in Canada, regulatory innovation and a compliance-forward approach needs to drive the future of Canada’s fintech market.
Canadians deserve more competition in financial products, and Synctera is well positioned to accelerate our clients’ abilities to build and launch within our evolving regulatory landscape, and to help banks support new entrants and new products in a compliant and reliable way. I can’t wait to be a part of helping our clients change the game for Canadian financial services.
Learn more and reach out if you’re ready to build.