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Start-up Corner: Apiax

Apiax CEO and co-founder Philip Schoch gives Legal IT Insider the low down on the fast growing, 2017-founded RegTech company that counts Credit Suisse among its clients.

How would you describe Apiax to a friend? 

The digital economy is everywhere and it seems like everyone is using online services to save themselves time and do things more efficiently – whether it’s shopping, exchanging data, storing photos, even selling on eBay. Most of the services we use today are provided globally, crossing numerous borders before they reach us. What you might not realise is that those services need to comply with local regulations and laws. 

Apiax helps global banks and the financial services industry to make sure that the services they provide are compliant with the latest global rules and regulations. We do that by seamlessly embedding thousands of digital regulatory answers into all of the apps and services that are currently used by the industry. Allowing users to ask simple questions about compliance, and get clear answers. Quickly.

And to a techy?

Apiax’s compliance solutions enable law firms and regulatory experts to future-proof their compliance advice. Turning it into insight that is simple to understand, implement and share more efficiently. We replace out of date knowledge sources, like handbooks, PDFs, attestations, and endless memoranda, with a suite of applications that provide clear yes/no answers to highly complex compliance questions.

At the heart of all our solutions is a unique transformation process, where legal experts identify relevant use cases; collect and structure relevant regulations; and transform them into machine-readable rules. We provide access to those rules via ready-to-use and easy to integrate apps or APIs. This allows a non-expert user to ask our apps their compliance questions and the rules generate dependable yes/no answers. 

This doesn’t mean we just turn compliance documents into “digital” PDFs. Instead, we enable law firms to replace all their paper-based manuals, memoranda, and surveys, with proper digital solutions that are much more accessible to their clients. Our white labelling options mean our solutions can be taken to market under the law firm or end user’s own brand. Enabling law firms and legal experts to manage their own legal content. Digitising their expertise and adjusting rules to their own interpretation and appetite for risk.  

We already cover hundreds of jurisdictions and we are expanding our digital regulatory rule repository every day. We work with some of the world’s most trusted regulatory experts, including EY and BDO to ensure everything is up to date. Everything fully audited and we record when all our rules are published, accessed, and acted upon.

When were you founded? 

We founded Apiax in Zurich in 2017.

By whom?

I founded Apiax alongside Ralf Huber, Nicolas Blanchard, and Thomas Suter. We are techies at heart, but legal and compliance is in our DNA. Between us we have over 277 years of experience in legal and compliance and just under 230 years in software engineering. Working for the likes of Credit Suisse, EY, UBS, Accenture, BNP Paribas, PWC, Microsoft, American Express and Siemens.

Who are your key managers/senior execs?

Our team consists of more than 50 regulatory, technology and legal experts. Including our UK lead, Alan Blanchard (ex-LexisNexis and FCA); our Singapore lead, Yvonne Ngai, and our founding team.

Who are your target clients?

We founded Apiax to empower businesses in highly regulated industries to focus on their core business objectives, despite the increasingly complex regulatory headwinds that I’ve already mentioned. As such, the banking and finance sector has been a fantastic use case. But in addition to working directly with banks, we are helping several law firms to digitise the advice they provide to their clients in the financial sector.

Our current, primary focus is on private banking, wealth management and asset management and we provide solutions for cross-border compliance, advisory mandates, discretionary mandates, as well as related data protection and tax topics. 

We focus on companies of all sizes with different aspects of our solution, usually selling our digital content offering to smaller organisations and our full software offering to larger financial institutions. 

In the long term, our aim is to empower organizations to bridge the gap between compliance, business and technology, no matter what industry they work in. We want to enable any business to apply their compliance knowledge exactly where they need it, whether in their daily interaction with customers, or by integrating it into their business-critical applications.

What is your plan (growth strategy)? 

We are laser focused on two simple goals: to enable our clients to focus on growth, despite increasing regulatory complexity, and to build technology that empowers banks to increase efficiency in regulatory compliance.

Key achievements? 

To date, we have opened offices in Zurich, Lisbon, Singapore, and London. We have also just been named the ‘Most Promising Fintech Start-up’ at the 6th Annual Asian Private Banker Technology Awards.

Our partners, Credit Suisse, won the ‘Best Private Bank for Use of RegTech Globally’ at the Professional Wealth Management (PWM) Wealth Tech Awards for our ongoing collaboration on cross border compliance.

Have you received investment?

Yes, in 2017, we raised 1.5 Million USD seed funding, and in 2019, we raised 6.6 Million USD Series A.

Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?

Not really. Our aim has always been the same and our regulatory technology is leading the way in transforming compliance into a digital first function.

What are the key challenges in your market?

Because we are selling a digital compliance product, we face the challenge of adapting to the growth strategies of leading startups, while navigating a saturated and low-tech industry. Bridging the gap between new technological capabilities and the needs and customs of an established industry can be tricky.

Recruitment can also be tricky. Indeed, finding the right, high-quality talent is our top challenge right now. As an early-stage technology start-up we are in a constant talent competition with big technology companies. Saying that we are always looking out for innovative ways to attract and retain the top talent which has, and will continue to, help us to scale our business globally. 

Tell us something people don’t already know about the company?

Is not ‘unknown’ per se, but we rarely get to talk about it: We are growing quickly. We have more than doubled in size from where we were at the beginning of 2020 to now. Going from 25 to more than 60 people. Despite that rapid growth, we are very proud to remain a diverse team with 18 different nationalities and more than 40% female staff members.