We are delighted to welcome a new guest blogger for the RegChats series. Welcome Nicola Cowburn!


Welcome to our first blog of 2022 and I'm really looking forward to catching up with a variety of RegTech trailblazers – those whose work is contributing to the growth and adoption of RegTech, and whose journey and experiences are helping other women to advance, both professionally and personally. What better way to end January than by catching up with Victoria Martin, Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at 10x Banking?

Nicola: Hello, tell us about yourself and your role?

Vic: I’ve enjoyed a very varied and interesting career in financial services compliance and risk. In my current role as Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at 10x Banking I track regulatory change very closely to ensure we get the right technology and frameworks in place, to enable our clients to meet their regulatory obligations. I started my career at RBS/Coutts monitoring regulatory change. Then I moved into retail, initially focusing on mortgage market reviews and regulatory change, before moving into a second line role monitoring all savings products across RBS. Next, for a complete change, I switched from big bank regulatory change and transformation programmes to FinTech. I managed regulatory applications at Tandem for a while, then moved to Clearbank, working on PSD2 and GDPR implementations. Prior to joining 10x one year ago I worked with 11:FS as a risk advisor for Mettle, an exciting new innovation programme for SME banking.

Nicola: What trends and opportunities are you seeing in RegTech right now?

Vic: I see three big regulatory themes right now – remote working, operational resiliency and data utilisation. Remote working raises a raft of regulatory and risk issues. At 10x we’re using RegTech to streamline risk management and make our solutions as light touch as possible, without compromising compliance. Regulators are issuing a lot of guidance around operational resiliency at the moment, so firms are busy making sure that the right risk frameworks are in place. The Bank of England, the FCA and the PRA will be issuing updated cloud guidance soon, which is timely as many banks are now moving to the cloud. This also casts the spotlight on third party risk, and the need to make sure that outsourced services are being managed effectively and compliantly. The third trend I see is around data. We have open banking in the UK, yet we have exited from the EU, so the Treasury is now consulting on a new data approach to ensure we utilise and transfer data appropriately, and we have the right controls in place to offer adequate safeguards. At 10x we’re seeing similar shifts with clients operating in different jurisdictions. Australia is focused on CDR rules, and in South Africa there's a policy statement on the cloud, which advises a similar approach to the UK. There is also a drive to use data to pre-empt risk. All too often data analytics are used reactively not proactively. Focus on pre-empting conduct risk, for example, is on the rise – especially in light of increased remote working.

Nicola: Tell us about your role in the RegTech space 

Vic: I help 10x Banking to build our platform in a way that meets our clients’ regulatory expectations. My role has two different facets, which makes it very exciting. Every day is different. Firstly, I advise the business – especially product and engineering – on current and upcoming regulations. Even though 10x is not a regulated entity our clients are bound by a set of very complex regulations. I translate these regulations into a form that maps onto our product, in the form of technical requirements. The second part of my role is client facing, acting as a liaison between the 10x product team and our clients’ risk teams. I work closely with clients to identify new regulatory requirements that are relevant to them, and also to understand their risk appetite, so we can meet their needs.

Nicola: What one thing would make the RegTech world a better place? 

Vic: I think there’s a real opportunity for regulators in different jurisdictions to collaborate in a joint task force, to make regulatory change and cross-border regulations easier to understand and comply with, and to examine the kind of technologies that can be applied to support compliance. For example, it would be helpful if there was a consistent approach to publishing the rule books. I also think there are also lessons to be learned from other industries, like education and insurance, to find better ways to apply RegTech in financial services.

Nicola: What advice would you give to your fellow RegTech women about succeeding as a woman in the industry? 

Vic: I think it’s important to have a solid mentor, not necessarily someone who is in your own profession or discipline. I've been very fortunate to have some amazing female mentors in product and engineering, not only risk. Generally I think we women put way too much pressure on ourselves to excel in everything. It’s important to find your tribe, people who have trodden a similar path to you, whose successes and failures you can learn from and apply to your own situation.

Nicola: Thank you, Vic! It has been a great pleasure speaking with you. While RegTech has come a long way, it is clear that it is constantly evolving and there remains much to be done.


Nicola's takeaways:

  • Events of 2020/21 have increased risk and regulatory pressure on financial institutions.
  • Every firm must focus on understanding the regulatory implications of emerging risks and applying technology to improve operational resiliency.
  • Data is the key to unlocking a more proactive and pre-emptive approach to risk and compliance.
  • Collaboration is king – between technology providers and their financial services clients, and between regulators in different jurisdictions. A collective approach to understanding how technology can support regulatory compliance is vital to accelerate progress.
  • Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to excel at everything. Find a like-minded mentor who can tell you what worked and what didn’t for them, and learn from their experience.
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