Since the global financial crash in 2008, banks have paid $342bn in fines that could have been avoided by better compliance. By 2020 that figure is predicted to be $20bn says a report from Hong Kong financial services consultancy Quinlan & Associates.
Fines for non-compliance is one thing. But the boardrooms running financial institutions are struggling with something else too. The top 50 global banks have seen an estimated $850bn of profits wiped out for bad conduct since 2008, according to the same report.
Since the financial crisis a vast number of regulations across key financial services jurisdictions has been created. And as banks begin to wake up to the reality that their compliance function can do more and be more, another truth soon follows.
For compliance to serve and grow modern organisations as it can, compliance departments and processes need to undergo some radical changes.
The quickest and easiest of these changes might also be the most fundamental: we need to stop seeing regulations, internal policies and procedures as documents and start seeing them as data.
The shift of turning documents into data isn't a new idea. It's happened in other sectors like law, where ediscovery companies have made a lot of ground helping reduce the amount of paper handed over to the opposing counsel as evidence in a trial.
Optical character recognition (OCR) tools have started to revolutionise day to day law practices. OCR is the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text.
This is beginning to happen within compliance as the benefits of smart documents become apparent. Policies move from static and stagnant documents that make for a difficult audit trail when required, to becoming living, breathing documents - accessible and meaningful.
Such a shift can inform an organisation's entire culture. When technology and automation is employed to eradicate the need for humans to perform low-level tasks, compliance teams, as well as other functions, recognise that compliance is wasted when focused on administrative chores. Indeed, leaders in the space are starting to see compliance comes into its own as a strategic asset, able to solve real business problems rather than just ones on paper.
Turning documents into structured data transforms what's captured on those documents; from mere information to be filed, into high-value knowledge and business insight.
That insight can act as the pumping heart and bloodstream of an organisation, especially when plugged into a dynamic platform that makes it available and accessible.
Chief and compliance and risk officers are only now starting to see the opportunity of reducing the number of documents they manage while increasing the effective use of the contents of those documents.
Platforms such as Clausematch help create entire governance frameworks that can reflect and demonstrate the total compliance picture within an organisation before mapping and predicting actions, obligations and controls.
Perhaps most importantly such platforms can bring people within organisations together and provide more intuitive and dynamic spaces to collaborate and work in. AI-powered technology means human beings spending less time on menial work and more time learning how they can add genuine value and growth.