Opus: Transforming Risk into Competitive Advantage

Emanuele Conti, CEO & Director , OpusEmanuele Conti, CEO & Director As one of the most regulated and competitive industries, banking is constantly exposed to an array of evolving government mandates, given the multidimensional nature of risks that exist in the landscape. Risks in the form of identity fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion, and sophisticated cyberattacks can have devastating effects on a firm’s reputation. The recent cases of Deutsche Bank and Equifax are stark reminders of the amount of disruption that can occur in the wake of undetected risks. While the former faced money laundering crisis, which eventually drew a hefty fine, the latter faced data breach that affected millions of accounts, severely denting the company’s market value. In the backdrop of these events, terming risk management as a cost center would be detrimental to business.

“A reactive approach to risk management for the sake of meeting compliance requirements is common, but done correctly, risk management can be the differentiating factor that can yield significant competitive advantage and drive business growth,” says Emanuele Conti, CEO and Director of Opus. While many companies spend their time and resources on tackling internal risks, much bigger risks are usually lurking in an environment external to the company— an area that has limited visibility. Reports have proven that many cases of bribery and data breaches have emanated from third-party partners. Having superficial data about a prospective customer and a business partner isn’t the answer; the key is to have the complete knowledge of them to ensure legitimacy.

New York City, NY-based Opus was founded on a simple premise: that faster, better decisions in compliance and risk management offer businesses a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The company’s mission is to free businesses from the complexity and uncertainty of managing customer, supplier, and third-party risks. Opus’ intuitive, data-driven Know Your Customer (KYC) solutions reflect their vision and mission of allowing banks to stay proactive and a step ahead of the risks.

Getting KYC Right

Modern businesses thrive on effective relationships with customers. Banks are facing the heat to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, given the rise of online banking and the need to deliver enhanced customer experience. Although performing due diligence in the form of KYC is critical to ensure customer legitimacy, the risk evaluation process itself is complex and time-consuming. With the enormous amount of data to glean through, onboarding a single customer can take weeks or even months—a major reason why banks lose the customer. “We aggregate content from 170 different content providers and automate much of the analyses and documentation that help clients process more cases while helping KYC teams improve their performance and significantly reduce the errors. As we remove the blind spots and provide complete visibility about a prospective customer, banks can drastically improve the time and efficiency of customer onboarding,” says Conti.

With new risks come new regulations, and we are geared to facilitate companies to comply with the evolving compliance needs in ways that support their business growth

For instance, a large global bank was losing several prospective customers due to delays in onboarding and limited visibility into the process. In addition, manual process from front office requests to back office diligence and lack of tracking mechanisms for internal service level adherence were limiting the investigator’s efficiency to process more profiles. Engaging with the client, Opus was able to streamline the bank’s investigation process while helping them comply with necessary regulatory requirements. Additionally, automated workflow enabled tracking and compliance with internal service standards. With a streamlined workflow, the bank improved their investigative case throughput by 68 percent and reduced the time required to onboard customers.

Unified View of Data

An expert in the security and risk management arenas, Conti understands that dealing with bad actors in today’s data-intensive world requires quality identification data, analytics and automation. To this end, he ensures that Opus’ solutions are no less than cutting-edge. Opus provides key information about an entity in one single place, equipping Opus’ clients to avoid pitfalls about their prospective business interests and make informed decisions. The company has a unique and intuitive web-based tool and API, Resolve, which provides banks with accurate and comprehensive data about an entity.

Listing several different identifiers for an entity in a single window, Resolve simplifies matching and mapping those identifiers together to eliminate data silos and calculates risk exposure while being able to generate accurate reports. Powered by Opus’s data integration API, sourcing data about an entity is quick and easy. “By linking and indexing an entity’s unique ID codes for different platforms, we tackle the challenge of false positives and mismatches that can occur if done manually,” highlights Lee Kirschbaum, SVP, Product, Marketing, and Alliances, at Opus.

Opus’ data solutions enable compliance teams to collect, assess, manage, and monitor massive volumes of third-party information in one location. While providing a comprehensive view of a business entity in a single user interface, the ability to share this data across the team is an added advantage. Opus’ solutions encompass a wide range of risk areas including cybersecurity, money laundering, and credit by cross-referencing data from reliable institutions such as Dun & Bradstreet, Dow Jones, and Thomson Reuters. With real-time alerts and notifications about the risks tied to an entity, Opus’ data solutions provide actionable intelligence, driving a company’s KYC excellence.

Not Just Know Your Customer, but Know Your Third Party

Conti highlights that similar to KYC, financial institutions are facing shifting regulations around their third parties as well. Regulations such as OCC 2013-29 require the assessing and managing of risks associated with third-party relationships.

And managing those risks is similar to KYC challenges—as with customers, businesses often don’t have complete profiles of their prospective business partners.

Opus’ third-party risk management solution, Hiperos 3PM, addresses these concerns by providing sourcing and procurement teams with a 360 degree view into their third parties, with a broad set of business identity information and risk data to validate and assess the risk of these entities. Opus works with clients to build an accurate risk model for each entity. Along with a nuanced risk mitigation strategy for third-party onboarding, Opus also provides dashboards to track task completion and trigger alerts in case of anomalies.

Leveraging Hiperos 3PM, companies can simplify and streamline their vetting process by verifying an entity’s risk profile in the areas of financial liability, information security posture, performance management and other risk areas. The solution helps clients onboard as many as 67 percent more third parties while allowing them to assess 50 percent more companies.

Innovation to Support New and Emerging Regulations

Opus continuously tracks new regulatory updates, evaluates requirements, and tailors their compliance products accordingly.

For example, for General Data Protection Regulation, the company created a set of tools, features, and webinars to enable clients improve their assessment of a third party for data privacy risks. Along the same lines, Opus is helping businesses understand the nitty-gritty of MiFID 2 while helping companies assess the risk profile of their customers and the exchanges that they are trading on.

“With new risks come new regulations, and we are geared to facilitate companies to comply with the evolving compliance needs in ways that support their business growth. We do this with our highly configurable platforms designed to align seamlessly with new regulations,” says Kirschbaum. As new regulations such as FinCEN’s CDD Final Rule, the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, and NY DFS’ Cyber Security Requirements come into effect, Opus is helping clients to identify and mitigate these risks quickly and efficiently and providing innovative solutions that enable them to make better decisions, faster than ever before.

"As we remove the blind spots and provide banks with complete visibility about a prospective customer, banks can drastically improve the time and efficiency of customer onboarding"

Being at the cross section of compliance expertise and advanced technology, Opus continues to adapt and develop new and innovative solutions to their clients globally. Supporting more than a million users around the world, the company is expanding rapidly, recently opening an office in Singapore. They also recently launched a new information security service that offers new capabilities to manage the safety and security of confidential data against the threats of third party data breaches.

Combining the power of global innovation to enable businesses to make faster, better risk decisions, Opus is proud to be a force multiplier for their clients and partners across the world.

- Syed Haseeb Ahmed
    December 22, 2017