Unlocking Efficiency and Compliance: Accend's Journey to Revolutionizing Ops & Compliance Reviews
In the ever-evolving landscape of financial technology, efficiency and compliance are paramount. Startups and established players alike grapple with the complexities of operations (Ops) and compliance (Compliance). The Accend team, a trio of industry veterans, recognized these challenges firsthand and embarked on a mission to transform the way manual reviews are conducted. But who are they, and how does Accend intend to revolutionize the industry? Let's delve into the world of Accend, where innovation meets experience.
Who Is Accend?
Accend, a San Mateo, CA-based startup, was founded in 2023 by a team of visionaries who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Comprising Pranjal Daga, Joseph Zhou, and Yutong Pei, Accend's founders have a track record that spans across different realms of the fintech and technology sectors. Their individual journeys have contributed to the birth of a solution that promises to enhance the efficiency and compliance capabilities of businesses in the financial industry.
The Birth of Accend: A Response to Industry Challenges
How did Accend Identify the Problem?
To truly understand the genesis of Accend, it's crucial to recognize the problems the founders observed while working in the industry. Their prior roles at Brex, where they led Product and Engineering for the Risk division, provided them with unique insights. They collaborated closely with Ops and Compliance teams, unveiling significant pain points:
Complex Processes and Errors
As B2B Fintechs and Banking as a Service (BaaS) providers expanded their customer base, Ops and Compliance teams grappled with increasingly complex reviews. Diverse customer profiles and services complicated the manual review process, making it prone to errors and inefficiencies due to the overwhelming data verification tasks.
Regulatory Compliance Challenges
Staying compliant with ever-evolving regulations, especially in Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, demanded meticulous attention to detail. This focus on compliance often slowed down the review process, affecting operational efficiency.
Skills Gap in Outsourced Teams
The founders noticed a skills gap in outsourced Ops teams concerning regulations and fintech processes. This gap impacted the quality of reviews and necessitated significant time and investment in training to ensure consistency.
Time-Consuming Regulatory Reports
Creating detailed regulatory reports such as Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) reports was a laborious task. It could take up to two hours to complete one report, further complicated by language and cultural challenges, ultimately affecting the clarity and level of detail.
These challenges posed substantial risks to businesses:
Business Risk: Suboptimal customer experiences during onboarding and potential rejection of legitimate customers, resulting in revenue loss.
Compliance Risk: Hefty penalties, legal consequences, damage to the company's reputation, and even the loss of banking partnerships, a potential existential crisis.
Recognizing that Brex wasn't the sole fintech struggling with these risks tied to manual reviews, the Accend team decided to tackle these challenges head-on.
Accend's Solution: A Game Changer in Ops & Compliance Reviews
What Does Accend Offer?
Accend's mission is clear: to accelerate and automate manual reviews for Ops and Compliance teams. Their solution addresses a wide range of pain points with a particular focus on Know Your Business (KYB) manual reviews. Here are the key features that make Accend a game-changer:
Guided Review Workflow
Accend simplifies the KYC procedure by converting complex Standard Operating Procedures into a user-friendly, step-by-step guided review process. This not only streamlines the review but also enhances consistency, both for internal and external Ops professionals.
Streamlined Online Research
Instead of juggling numerous browser tabs to validate information about a business and its beneficial owners/controllers, Accend consolidates data through comprehensive web searches. It presents a summary for validation by Ops professionals, reducing the time spent on manual research.
Automated Due Diligence Reports
Traditionally, crafting a CDD/EDD report could take up to two hours. Accend automates this process, generating high-quality narrative reports in the company's required template. This not only saves valuable Operations time but also ensures accuracy and consistency in reporting.
Accend establishes an audit trail for actions taken by Operations professionals and the automated processes during KYC manual reviews. This eliminates the need to scour various sources, extract logs, and document them, streamlining the auditing process.
Why Choose Accend?
What Benefits Does Accend Bring?
Accend isn't just another tool in the fintech landscape. It's a solution designed to drive tangible improvements in efficiency, compliance, and cost savings for financial businesses. Here's why Accend stands out:
Improved Quality of Output
With Accend, Ops teams can consistently follow procedures, reducing the likelihood of errors. This results in higher-quality outputs, enhancing the customer onboarding experience and reducing the risk of rejecting legitimate customers.
Automation is at the core of Accend's offering. By automating time-consuming tasks, it significantly increases the efficiency of Ops teams. This efficiency translates into faster reviews and a more agile onboarding process.
Managing Ops teams can be expensive, especially when extensive training is required. Accend's streamlined processes reduce the need for extensive training, ultimately lowering operational costs.
Accend's automation ensures that regulatory compliance remains a top priority. By automating the creation of detailed regulatory reports, it helps businesses stay on the right side of the law.
Maintaining healthy relationships with banking partners and regulators is vital in the fintech industry. Accend's focus on compliance and efficiency enables businesses to foster these critical relationships, reducing the risk of penalties and operational disruptions.
The Faces Behind Accend
Who Are the Visionaries Driving Accend?
To truly understand Accend's potential, it's essential to get to know the founders who are driving its success:
Pranjal Daga, currently the Co-founder of Accend, has an impressive track record. He served as the Product Manager on the Risk team at Brex, where he reduced fraud losses by a staggering $20 million. His work spanned various areas, including disputes, declines, and login friction. Before this, he made a significant career move by dropping out of his PhD in AI/ML at Purdue University to help set up Cisco Innovation Labs. In just four years, he grew the team from 1 to 35 members, showcasing his ability to drive innovation and growth.
Joseph Zhou, another Co-founder of Accend, brings a wealth of financial expertise to the team. His previous role as the CFO of a mobile gaming startup in Singapore, boasting a $50 million ARR, demonstrates his financial acumen. Joseph played a pivotal role in establishing the company’s licensed poker operation in Europe, scaling the team from scratch to 80 members. His responsibilities extended to KYC, AML, compliance, responsible gaming, and fraud prevention, making him a well-rounded financial leader.
Yutong Pei, the third Co-founder of Accend, has a strong engineering background. He served as the Engineering Manager on the Fraud Risk team at Brex, where he contributed to building the Disputes service and implementing fraud controls. Yutong's experience isn't limited to Brex; he's played significant roles in fraud engineering and security at prominent companies like IoTeX, Uber, and Amazon. His technical prowess and understanding of risk make him an invaluable asset to Accend.
Conclusion: Empowering Fintechs for a Better Future
In the fast-paced world of fintech, where efficiency and compliance are non-negotiable, Accend emerges as a beacon of innovation. The founders' deep-rooted industry experience and insights have paved the way for a solution that not only tackles the challenges faced by Ops and Compliance teams but also unlocks opportunities for growth, efficiency, and healthier relationships within the financial industry. As Accend continues to evolve, it holds the promise of reshaping how businesses approach manual reviews, ultimately setting a new standard for excellence in the world of fintech.