It’s all about technology and Jo Jenkins of Railsbank shares where she sees the focus for the future of Regtech and what this may mean for the industry and compliance officers.
Joanna Jenkins is the Head of Compliance at Railsbank – a global banking and compliance platform that gives companies access to wholesale banking services in 5 lines of code.
Points of Interest
- 01:55 Railsbank Explained: Open Banking & Compliance Platform
- 04:05 Career Journey
- 10:20 How Regtech is Changing Industries: Financial, Healthcare, Government, Cannabis
- 12:06 Exciting Developments: Customers Select Vendors to Integrate, Compliance Firewall
- 15:46 Pattern Recognition – Fighting Financial Crime, AML, Modern-Slavery
- 18:23 Enhance Your Technology, Don’t Build a Larger Team
- 19:15 Rapid Fire Round
…don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say “I don’t know,” especially in compliance.
…the conversation with the managers, leadership team, the board shouldn’t be about adding more people. It should really be about enhancing your technology.
Kimberley Cole 0:01
This is Risky Women Radio show to connect, celebrate and champion women in risk, regulation and compliance, sharing insight and perspective from the most influential members of our global Risky Women network. On the latest developments, we need to think about, the challenges we should all talk more about, and innovations we are most excited about in governance, risk and compliance. Bringing together the hundreds of senior women professionals already connected with a new emerging group of leading women and men. I’m Kimberley Cole, your Chief Risky Woman.
Kimberley Cole 0:38
This episode is brought to you by our founding sponsor Refinitiv. Refinitiv serves more than 40,000 institutions in over 190 countries. Refinitiv provides information insights and technology that drive innovation and performance in global financial markets. Refinitiv enables the financial community to trade smarter and faster, overcome regulatory challenges and scale intelligently.
Kimberley Cole 1:00
Welcome to Risky Women Radio. Today’s risky woman is Joanna Jenkins. Joanna is the Head of Compliance at Railsbank, a leading UK based open banking and regtech platform. She’s also co-chair of ACAMS UK chapter. So thank you for joining us today, Joanna.
Joanna Jenkins 1:20
Thank you for inviting me.
Kimberley Cole 1:23
Pleasure. We’ve got a lot to talk about. I’m really keen to hear how regtech is playing a part across all the different platforms that we’re seeing and changing how the industry operates. So I think we’ve got a great topic today on the age of the new compliance officer, and where compliance meets tech. So can we start with your role at Railsbank? Can you give us a quick overview of actually what is Railsbank and your role there?
Joanna Jenkins 1:55
Railsbank was set up by Clive Mitchell and Nigel Verdon the two co-founders. And their view was that they wanted to produce a platform that was easy integration, and allow customers to access transaction banking through five lines of code. So essentially, what that means is that as a customer, you can access the platform, you’ve got very simple and flexible API’s and it allows you to take an idea to market quickly, you integrate through the API, and you’ve got access to different, various different vendors as well. So what that does is it removes the complexity of managing and integrating into those vendors. You integrate once and you have access to it all.
Kimberley Cole 2:37
Fantastic. And it’s sort of all size of institutions?
Joanna Jenkins 2:40
Yes, a whole variety of customers. So it could be from, you know, a large supermarket wanted to offer a card or we could have small startups, that’ve got big ideas. They want to create a new bank, or they want to, you know, manage payments in a more efficient and digital way. So yeah, there’s a really lovely mix of people. So if you look at this whole piece around financial inclusion, we’re seeing a lot of that as well. And even there’s this big space here where the banks won’t bank them. So what we do is we provide, you know, the right controls and infrastructure to be able to manage that risk of a startup, but allow them to get into business.
Kimberley Cole 3:21
Very interesting, and your role at Railsbank specifically?
Joanna Jenkins 3:25
And so I run the compliance department that’s changed a fair bit from when I started. And right at the beginning, it was about building out our policies, procedures, what did we want this to look like, and a vision of how we would meet the regulation, regulatory requirements, but also for our customers to have a good user experience because one of the biggest challenges is always, you know, compliance said no. This isn’t about compliance saying no, it’s about how can we do it better.
Kimberley Cole 3:52
Fantastic. Sounds very interesting. So look forward to hearing a bit more about that. So maybe talk about your career journey with us a bit more. And some of the other roles that you hold like your role at ACAMS.
Joanna Jenkins 4:05
Well, so what led me to work at Railsbank? I started off by working at many of the different big banks, the encumbent banks, for Bank of America, Nomura and my latest stint in the big banks was at Deutsche, and that’s where I managed the customer onboarding team for the UK. I worked there and I guess I learned a lot about manual processes. Okay, which I’ll come back to. After working at Deutsche Bank I got a job as the European head of compliance for AFEX. AFEX is Associated Foreign Exchange which is a global payments and FX company. That’s really where I got stuck in and gained my compliance skills in understanding the complexities of the payments industry and also foreign exchange. And it was whilst I was there that I am met Clive and Nigel, that’s Clive Mitchell and Nigel Verdon, and we got talking about, you know, all the challenges that you face with KYC and customer boarding all the new regs that were coming about. And they asked me to be on the advisory board of Railsbank. And that’s how this journey started. I joined on the board, and then it was, you know, Christmas 2016. And I said, you know, I was looking for something new. I needed something that, a job that would fit around, you know, my life and give me that, you know, work life balance. So in the January 2017, I started with Railsbank. If you ask me, Why did I join them? Because nothing was built. It was a belief in an idea that they had, I believed in the idea and what we were trying to achieve. I also believed in them delivering what they were saying they wanted to deliver. And, you know, that is what we’ve built. I guess for me, the beauty has been to start a product and a team from nothing. So to be asked, you know, in a dream world, what would be a perfect situation for you and compliance. Okay, so, you know, we looked at transaction, you know, transaction monitoring how we’re going to do the KYC process? How can we improve user experience? Because one of the biggest challenges is always around, you know, that first point that first experience, the customer has of you is at that point of onboarding. So how could we improve that.
Kimberley Cole 6:22
So very interesting that, you know, these kind of opportunities can come from maybe the least expected area. So that that’s interesting point in your career journey. Also love this building, sort of KYC from the ground up. And I think, as you say, often the the customer experience has been less than optimal. So yeah, that’s a great way to look at using tech but also great from your career perspective as well. Now you’re also co-chair of ACAMS. Is that right?
Joanna Jenkins 6:54
That’s right. I was made co-chair in early September, so not too long ago, I was introduced to the ACAMS group through an old manager of mine back at a AFEX, I used to report into Anthony Rodriguez. And he’s very influential over in the States, especially, you know, he’s a key person, an influencer when it comes to, you know, compliance and the payments industry. He introduced me to the team here in the UK. And that’s when I started. So I joined as a board member. And then yeah, sort of worked my way up to assistant VP and then now co-chair, which is great. So I’m going to do one more year, and then I’ll step down and let somebody else have the opportunity.
Kimberley Cole 7:32
Fantastic. So tell us, you know, what are the top three things that people should know about you?
Joanna Jenkins 7:39
Okay, top three things first, that I love languages. I enjoy communicating, engagement with people. And I think if you look at it, the tapestry of my life so far, it links directly you know, I was born and brought up in Spain. I went to a Catalan school. I then went to boarding school in Wales, and I can hear my parents words when they said Rebel Without a Cause, and sport and school. Best thing they ever did to be honest. I then studied Italian and Business Studies at UCL University College London, where I then did one year in Italy when you do your erasmus year, and I studied international law at the University of Bologna, which was an amazing experience. The second thing that people should know about me, I’m a little bit of a payments geek now, especially when you look at, I enjoy looking at the plumbing of all the different payments payment schemes. So whether it’s faster payments, SEPA Instant, BACS, CHAPS, etc. Don’t know if I’m proud of that but I do enjoy it. The third thing is I’ve got a beautiful little girl called Bella and she keeps me sane, especially after a hard day.
Kimberley Cole 8:52
Very good. And what’s one thing that maybe people don’t know about you?
Joanna Jenkins 8:57
That although have applied for many different licenses, So whether it’s an EMI license or in my license in Lithuania, the most fun I’ve had applying for a license is when I applied for my speedboat license.
Kimberley Cole 9:09
Oh, speed boat license! Where do you go speed boating here?
Joanna Jenkins 9:13
This was done in Bournemouth.
Kimberley Cole 9:16
Very good. Always interesting. And and what’s the top piece of advice that you’ve been given sort of on your own career journey, or maybe that you would give to others who are progressing in their career journey?
Joanna Jenkins 9:32
I would say, don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say “I don’t know,” especially in compliance. You’re better off saying, I’m not too sure I’ll go and find out and then come back to it, as opposed to trying to blag it because it’s more important to gain trust with people than it is to be right, especially in this role.
Kimberley Cole 9:52
Great advice. So let’s dig into more around regtech, technology. way things are changing and evolving, given the the rapidly changing regulatory environment. You said that Railsbank is a platform that that the industry can use, especially around payments. What are the areas that you’re seeing regtech is really changing the industry?
Joanna Jenkins 10:20
We’re seeing regtech across many different industries. We’re seeing it, you know, within financial services around risk management, anti money laundering, reporting, structured contracts, legal structured contracts, and so on. But what’s also very interesting is how the other industry such as healthcare, government, and even how we can supervise and regulate the cannabis industry, which is now really emerging, and I think we’ll see a lot happening within that area. In terms of, you know, the opportunities that we’re seeing in you know, in financial services, is I’d say the three key things for us and I’m talking many from my experience, is around digital identification, financial inclusion, and that all together giving you the ability for actually improving your anti money laundering and counter terrorist financing controls, you know, so you’re improving on your, your systems, you’re able to access now better screening tools and with all of that it’s about improving your preventative measures for money laundering.
Kimberley Cole 11:25
Fantastic. Which is obviously very important just because of the the human costs and implications of of some of them money laundering acivities.
Joanna Jenkins 11:35
Yeah, I mean, it does also come with its challenges because new technologies also seen a change in pattern and how people are operating within these systems. So you know, the sheer volume of and pace of all these transactions, being able to intercept fraud is a challenge. But then again, we’ve got a lot of opportunity being able to, you know, scale our business and with technology be able to prevent it, but yeah, there’s still challenges there.
Kimberley Cole 12:01
And what are some of the most exciting developments then that you’re seeing in that space?
Joanna Jenkins 12:06
So I would say what I’m getting very excited about is, there’s two parts of the regtech that I’m utilizing and integrating. So, initially, we thought, okay, let’s integrate with two, various different digital ID providers, also transaction monitoring tools and screening tools. So we would do the selection, add it to our platform, and then our customers could easily integrate and have access to it. Now what we’ve learned and this is very important, especially when we think about a failsafe and learn fast environment, okay, is that our customers are very passionate about having their own vendors and being part of that selection process because they want to choose the fraud tool, or the identification or biometrics tool that’s going to be best suited to their customer base. So we soon realized what we need is not have something already integrated, but actually bring in a layer between our customers and ourselves within the Railsbank platform that essentially takes all the data from their vendors that they’ve decided they’re going to use for, you know, for fraud or for digital identification. We pull all that data and we standardize it. What that means is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re using Jumio, Onfido, ComplyAdvantage or one of the other guys, and the data and the output from those checks is standardized and uploaded onto our digital ledger. What that means is that it’s you know, if the check is a positive, it’s positive, or it’s a pass, then it’s a pass. When I’m then as the MLRO doing transaction monitoring, I can clearly see the KYC per the transaction and one sits on top of the other. What that means is we create this dynamic risk assessment where we have KYC attached and linked to the transaction, which helps us make decisions quickly on whether we believe it’s suspicious or not.
Kimberley Cole 13:56
Excellent. That sounds like it’s a very open platform allowing people to integrate as they see fit.
Joanna Jenkins 14:03
Yeah and they can integrate easily. And what that means is they still got choice. They’ve got choice of vendor choice they selected themselves. However, it means that we still have control around it.
Kimberley Cole 14:13
And you mentioned transaction monitoring there. What do you have any, you know, what’s this sort of experience around the developing of real time transaction monitoring, and how is tech sort of transforming that?
Joanna Jenkins 14:27
We built what we call the Compliance Firewall. And the Compliance Firewall is built into the Railsbank platform. And then that gives our customers you know, the ability to do risk, it gives them risk management access, and also regulatory compliance. Now, when we built the compliance firewall, it was during a period of a lot of change. There were new regulations coming in. But in fact, that worked our advantage because if you look at the second wire transfer regulations, which were part of the fourth money laundering directive that came out in 2017, it means that we built that in. So all the reporting requirements, the data attributes, the link to that from ultimate sender, ultimate beneficiary or ultimate receiver. And it’s all built in, which makes it so much easier. And I guess that’s the beauty of when you start with a brand new system as you build it as you want it. We don’t have to worry about legacy systems, duplicates, different data operators and silos. So it’s an absolute joy.
Kimberley Cole 15:26
And, and given that there is so much change happening in the regulatory space, what’s going to happen next in terms of you know, where do you see things going, what what else needs to happen? Because you’ve had some fantastic developments, starting from scratch and understanding the challenges the industry’s facing. Where do you see things going now?
Joanna Jenkins 15:46
For me, what I’d like to achieve through the technology we’ve got is as we increase our customer base, we increase the number of end users who are indirectly using our platform, the more volume we have, the more chances we have of actually identifying serious fraud, patterns for money laundering. But more, you know, close to my heart is the whole piece around, you know, modern day slavery, because you tend to have people who are using, who, you know, who are involved in these crimes, don’t just use one platform, they don’t just use one bank, they spread themselves across the whole, you know, financial system to be able to conceal those funds. So the more data we have, the more information we have to be able to actually make a good assessment and hopefully, you know, be part of, you know, stopping some of that criminal activity.
Kimberley Cole 16:42
Fantastic. Yes, a topic that’s very close to my heart as well, in terms of what we can do, and I agree, data, technology, you know, following the money, it’s a very important tactic to use. And given the complexity of the way the financial systems are structured now I think we need to use every tool that we can to to combat the the crime. So do you have a global view, or even just in the region of, you know, who you think is sort of leading in the regtech space? And I don’t know, even if it’s like what regulators are doing as far as using regtech, etc.
Joanna Jenkins 17:23
I wouldn’t be able to, there’s not one player. That, you know, I think stands out for me. There are lots. A few years back there was less around the regtech industry. I think now, we’ve actually got a track history of people who do a good job, right, because we can see it’s been working, they’ve got a history there, but one that stands out, no, not in particular, what I would say stands out is our regulator, the FCA, in comparison to many of the other regulators within Europe, I believe they are very interactive, they’re humble in the sense of they will set up meetings and sandboxes to understand, better understand our industry, to better understand the different biometric providers that are out there or different ways that we can enhance our reporting requirements. So yeah, I think they’re engaging. And we’re fortunate in that sense.
Kimberley Cole 18:13
Great. Anything else from, you know, things that you think the audience should be thinking about from a regtech perspective in their own organizations or beyond?
Joanna Jenkins 18:23
I’d say the conversation with the managers, leadership team, the board shouldn’t be about adding more people. It should really be about enhancing your technology. Because enhance your technology, you can scale that, it’s all about scalability. You can’t scale people, people, you’ve got attrition, people leave with the knowledge that they’ve been provided by by creating automation, you can actually dramatically decrease the amount of time that spent on non-value add tasks. So I’d say that is the key thing and also accuracy. Through tech you create accuracy.
Kimberley Cole 18:54
Into our rapid fire round.
Kimberley Cole 18:57
Risky Women is a vibrant network at the center of a global community in a rapidly growing, evolving and influential industry. Given the continued pace of change, our rapid fire round revisits the most pressing topics to share ideas and offer listeners new perspectives.
Kimberley Cole 19:15
One word to describe the world of governance, risk and compliance?
Joanna Jenkins 19:20
Kimberley Cole 19:22
Yes. And the cure for the cost of compliance and the waves of regulatory change?
Joanna Jenkins 19:28
Invest in technology and not in building a larger team.
Kimberley Cole 19:31
And are you optimistic, pessimistic or neutral in your outlook for the year ahead?
Joanna Jenkins 19:36
Optimistic! I’m already looking at 2020.
Kimberley Cole 19:41
And a few fun ones, what’s a book that you recommend that everyone reads?
Joanna Jenkins 19:47
I would say MoneyLand. Very good. It was recommended to me by Graham Barrows.
Kimberley Cole 19:52
What’s it about?
Joanna Jenkins 19:53
Money laundering. It’s all about how the rich get richer through using offshore accounts. But the way it’s written is anybody would enjoy it. It’s not just for people within the industry. So I even lent it to my mum to read whether she’s read it or not. I don’t know. I’ll see when I go back to see her next.
Kimberley Cole 20:11
Excellent MoneyLand. All right. Something to watch?
Joanna Jenkins 20:14
The Spider’s Web. It’s good! It talks, the show it’s a documentary about how Britain went from having the colonial powers to actually being a financial powerhouse. So yeah, that again, it’s about the Overseas Territories. We’ve got common theme here.
Kimberley Cole 20:29
Yeah. And what’s your favorite podcast?
Joanna Jenkins 20:33
At the moment? Graham, you can thank me later. It is definitely The Dark Money Files.
Kimberley Cole 20:40
Oh, I can see that common theme continues to weave its way through.
Joanna Jenkins 20:45
So the content is fantastic. Very good.
Kimberley Cole 20:48
Excellent. Well, it’s been a pleasure chatting to you, Joanna, thank you for joining us on Risky Women Radio.
Joanna Jenkins 20:54
Thank you for inviting me. I had fun, thanks.
Kimberley Cole 21:01
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Kimberley Cole 21:18
Thank you for listening to this exciting episode of Risky Women Radio to connect, champion and celebrate women in risk, regulation and compliance. I’m Kimberley Cole, based in Hong Kong. For more information on the Risky Women global network, head to our website and the episode notes and please be part of the ongoing conversation by subscribing to this podcast, connecting with us at Risky Women on Twitter or even reaching out to me directly by email.