Ascent's founder wants to help finance leaders sleep better at night

by Andreas Rekdal
June 16, 2017

For small businesses in highly scrutinized industries like financial services, keeping up with regulatory requirements can be a full-time job — and then some.

Ascent, a Chicago-based regulatory technology company has built a platform that employs machine learning and domain-specific artificial intelligence to help firms navigate that complexity.

“I was an attorney and a regulator,” said founder and CEO Brian Clark. “After experiencing the financial crisis and how the following regulation affected firms of all sizes, I saw a need for a solution that used contemporary technology to make it easier for firms to follow the rules.”

Clark said the biggest challenge for firms in the wake of the global financial crisis has been that those rules and regulations are constantly changing.

“That creates extreme disruption for operations, ranging from changing processes to actually having to cease certain activities,” he said. “Our product, Navigator, goes through all of the applicable regulations and analyzes them to build new workflows designed specifically for the customer.”

The biggest advantage to Ascent’s tech-driven approach to regulatory compliance, said Clark, is that it reduces the risk of human error.

“It really helps people sleep at night,” he said. “Regulation is something executives are constantly worrying about. There’s a constant notion of reacting instead of being proactive — we want to help them become proactive.”

Ascent graduated from the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge in 2015, and has since grown to around 15 employees. As a tech company operating at the intersection of law and finance — both industries that have traditionally lagged behind on gender issues — Clark said Ascent has put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that his team has at least as many women as men.

Clark said the NVC program and the support of the Chicago tech ecosystem have provided a big boost to his company.

“I can’t say enough positive things, not only about the program itself, but about the individuals associated with it,” he said. “It’s truly an exceptional group that cares not only about supporting the startup ecosystem, but the individuals within it as well. I think that’s a pretty rare thing to find.”


Image via Ascent.

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