The tech industry often promises revolutions, but sometimes it’s the modest wins that provide the biggest bang for the buck, according to a report from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).
The OSC published a report on its testing environment to promote innovation, known as OSC TestLab, which specifically examined solutions to two basic issues: improving firms’ ability to share information with clients, and enhancing relationships between firms and their clients.
The experiment found that modest innovations can have large payoffs.
“There can be a tendency to assume that progress can only come from revolutionary technologies that involve deep, wholesale change — but our first test showed us that simple solutions can have an oversized impact when they reduce friction for registrants and their clients,” the report said.
For instance, it found that automating the process of collecting and updating KYC information can provide a significant return.
“For RegTech solutions addressing pain points that arise when clients must complete and submit forms to a registrant, completion tracking and ‘blank field’ checks result in real efficiencies by simply automating the work they are already doing,” the report said. It also found evidence that automation can minimize errors.
Additionally, the regulator reported that another simple solution — tools that enable advisors to group related accounts, which can then be managed on an aggregated basis — to be “highly beneficial.”
Introducing basic features such as calendar integration that allowed “clients to check their advisor’s availability and send meeting requests” also helped ease the chore of scheduling client meetings.
Separately, the report noted that the testing has the regulator contemplating the benefits of machine-readable regulation, which makes it easier for firms to access and interpret the content of the rules.
The OSC indicated that it’s closely following the initiative of the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to adopt machine-readable rules for its most frequently viewed rules to ease compliance, reduce costs and enhance risk management.
“It is a leading example for machine-readability of securities regulation that we can learn from and consider for future OSC efforts to implement machine readable rules,” the report said.
The findings came from an initial round of testing that was carried out between June and December last year, involving seven companies and over 100 testers (both advisors and investors).
“We created OSC TestLab to provide an environment for innovators, capital market participants and the OSC to test new approaches and technologies that can benefit Ontario’s businesses and investors,” said Grant Vingoe, CEO of the OSC, in a release.
“Historically, regulators have used a top-down approach to regulation. Today, the OSC is modernizing its method by engaging with collaborative networks to determine what can be done better, together,” he added.
In the report, Vingoe called on industry firms, tech companies and investors to participate in future tests.