Future regulatory frameworks will be impossible to navigate without digital tools

Lawyer and co-founder of Harvest Advokatbyrå, Björn Wendleby, on how digitalisation has transformed work on regulatory compliance, the EU’s new green taxonomy, and the importance of effective digital system support for requirements management.

bjorn wendleby

Björn has a long career in financial compliance behind him. He started out as a district court lawyer before deciding to work in the financial sector. Since then, he has worked as legal counsel at Sweden’s financial markets regulator Finansinspektionen, SEB, and as a compliance officer and then CEO of asset management company ABG Sundal Collier. During his almost 30 years in the financial sector, Björn has witnessed digital transformation from the inside.

– When I started in finance, the job was very physical. It involved physically going down to the bank vault and picking up actual securities certificates and then posting them to people who had bought them. Clearly, digitalisation has streamlined our work in many different ways, especially on the customer side and for those of us working in the sector. You have to keep up with the times.

– Digitalisation began to have a serious impact about 20 years ago, and when the financial crisis hit, my experience and instincts told me that a tsunami of new regulations would follow. That’s why some colleagues and I set up the compliance agency that is now Harvest. I see a new tsunami of rules is on its way now with today’s digital, increasingly transparent landscape – and the new rules on sustainability that will be of vital importance in the financial sector.

Digital system support - Key to modern compliance

Björn’s work with compliance involves reviewing companies’ compliance and answering questions about how things work according to various regulations. Nowadays, his work is often simpler and less error prone than before, as cloud services help him access relevant customer information without having to post sensitive documents or email them back and forth. He believes that this sort of streamlining is necessary for him and his clients.

– Due to the digitalisation and transparency, that has resulted from the whole world’s information now being just a click away, the rules and guidelines that asset managers have to comply with have also increased. It’s starting to become extremely difficult for someone to do this manually, and with the regulations on sustainability that will come soon, it’ll be downright impossible to manage this without digital tools.

– The complexity of regulations associated with, for example, the EU’s new green taxonomy involves, means that you become dependent on good digitalised system support. If you want to keep up, you need to have access to extremely good digital systems to manage your portfolio and ensure compliance with relevant rules. You also need the help of experienced regulatory compliance people to ensure that everything is complied with. These tools are absolutely necessary to be able to run a commercial business successfully.

How will you help your customers with ESG regulatory compliance?

– One and a half years ago, we started a large internal sustainability compliance project when we identified a considerable future need for support in this area – right down to the granular level. It’s becoming increasingly important for people like me to be up to speed. In addition to interpreting regulations and helping our clients with compliance, we have a dialogue with clients and encourage them to anticipate change ahead of time – and get them to understand the importance of good, digital system support to address change. This isn’t something that can be done manually: future regulatory frameworks will be impossible to navigate without digital tools.

Published: 2021 10 17

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