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ComplianceSeptember 11, 2023

Vikram Savkar, General Manager for Compliance Solutions at Wolters Kluwer, discusses his new role

As published in The Secured Lender magazine’s TSL Express

In July, Wolters Kluwer announced Vikram Savkar was hired as general manager, Compliance Solutions. In this capacity, Savkar oversees a successful, growing business within Wolters Kluwer noted for its product innovation, technology advancements, and unparalleled domain expertise. The business is dedicated to helping financial institutions efficiently manage risk and regulatory compliance obligations while gaining the insights needed to focus on better serving their customers and growing their business. Here, he discusses his top priorities and goals in his new position and compliance concerns.

TSL: How has your background at Wolters Kluwer, as vice president and general manager of the Legal & Regulatory division, and then Wolters Kluwer’s Health division, helped prepare you for your new role as general manager for Compliance Solutions?
Vikram Savkar: It has been just over a ten-year run at Wolters Kluwer, and this will be my third vertical, with Legal and Regulatory first, then Health, and now Financial Services. On the surface those markets are quite different. In the healthcare market, much of the staff were doctors, and our products were deeply involved in helping advance healthcare for patients around the world. In financial services, our staff has expertise in banking, lending and mortgage and our customers are banks and non-bank lenders. So, they are very different worlds on the surface.

But, if you look at the businesses that I’ve been fortunate enough to drive, the basic drivers of value creation across the businesses are the same. The underlying dynamic behind that value creation is the shift by our customer base in all of these markets towards increasingly sophisticated digital tools and replacing older ways of working. The legal and regulatory market during my time was really making a rapid uptake of digital tools in place of activities that had previously been done in a traditional way. The healthcare market was increasingly taking advantage of digital tools, whether at the point of care or in the research aspects of the market.

So, in both of those businesses my job was really quite similar, which was to position Wolters Kluwer as the solutions provider of choice for those customers as they went through their curve of increasing sophistication in digital adoption.

The financial services market, while quite different from healthcare or the legal space, is involved in the same kinds of dynamics. Our customers, whether banks or lenders or other kinds of financial services companies, are increasingly taking advantage of digital tools, whether in digital lending or in other workflows. Our combination of market and software development expertise allows us to be the solutions provider of choice for those customers.

So, my job is similar, and it’s to continue to drive this business to be the partner that helps our customers become more digitally sophisticated over time in order to accelerate their growth and impact.

What are your top priorities and goals in your new role?
The first priority is to learn the business in and out. It’s always goal number one when you move into a new business and a new market, and I will take some time to be on a listening tour of staff, of customers, of partners, of experts in the field so that I can really understand the nuances rather than just the big picture of what’s shaping this industry.

Once that’s done, my first goal—and the most important thing I will accomplish as a leader of this business—is to clarify the strategic priorities for the business and make sure the entire organization is clear about what those strategic priorities are.

This portfolio is diverse. We have a lot of leading products in different market niches, which makes it important to be clear about the handful of high-growth areas that you believe you have a right to play in and win in, where you want to channel the greater part of your investment and time. Making those clear strategic choices early on is going to be important, and then making sure the team as a whole understands what those strategic choices are so that we can align our activity and our organic and inorganic investments around those priorities.

What are some product demands Wolters Kluwer’s Financial & Corporate Compliance division is seeing from customers?
At the core of what customers demand across most of our products is guidance and actionable intelligence that helps them navigate through the regulatory landscape. Compliance needs are largely driven by regulatory mandates by federal, state, and other government entities, and the reality of the world we live in is that those regulatory mandates are always increasing in number, scope, and complexity.

That increasing complexity places huge challenges on customers. How, from a scalability perspective, can they stay on stop of all these regulatory changes? How can they successfully translate an understanding of the regulatory changes into their activities and processes? These are very hard problems that are becoming only harder as the years go by.

Our customers look to us to be the expert partner that helps them solve those problems. We have hundreds of experts on staff, so we always maintain market-leading expertise in each of these regulatory areas. Using this expertise, we’re consistently able to develop workflow tools that are efficient, reliable, smart solutions that help our customers to migrate efficiently through the regulatory framework.

What are the biggest compliance concerns you’re seeing from WK customers, particularly in the secured finance space?
Given the high demand for their services, a lot of our customers have challenges with hiring and retaining the experts they need to manage through the regulatory framework themselves. That is a gap that we address very strongly because we are a single partner with a team of experts whom we can make available across all our customers in the sector.

The general costs of escalating and increasingly complex regulatory mandates are also at odds with our customers’ needs to improve their margin, and that also is a problem that we’re able to solve for them because our software takes advantage of AI and other advanced technology to analyze compliance obligations at great scale with high accuracy quickly and cost effectively.

How is AI shaping compliance concerns for banks?
When banks think about AI, they see it as both an opportunity and a risk. It’s an opportunity because AI has tremendous ability to perform at scale analytical activities that would be prohibitively expensive or just plain impossible with human beings. Human beings can’t read through millions of pages of regulatory documents around the world and synthesize key concerns, at least not in a practicable amount of time, and AI can do that. So, AI represents an opportunity for banks to establish a competitive edge.

At the same time, AI can be a concern as well. When you use AI, you have to be able to credibly explain to other entities in your ecosystem how that AI is working and how it arrives at its insights. If a bank can’t explain how an AI-based compliance system is drawing its conclusions to a regulator, let’s say, that’s ultimately problematic.

So, AI is not a panacea. I think this is where we step in. We have well-established expertise in AI, and we also have great expertise in building AI into our products in a way that we can explain. So, we believe we are positioned well to help banks take advantage of AI in such a way as to enable them to meet their regulatory obligations.

Vikram Savkar - Executive Vice President and General Manager, Compliance Solutions, Wolters Kluwer Financial & Corporate Compliance
Executive Vice President and General Manager, Compliance Solutions, Wolters Kluwer Financial & Corporate Compliance
Vikram Savkar is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Compliance Solutions, a business unit of Wolters Kluwer Financial & Corporate Compliance. In his role, Vikram oversees a successful, growing business within Wolters Kluwer noted for its product innovation, technology advancements, and unparalleled domain expertise.
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