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StarCompliance Enters SMCR And Training And Competency Space

With its purchase of Ideagen’s Pentana Compliance Division—notably, its SMCR and training and competency solutions—Star will help more clients address more compliance challenges globally from a single, integrated platform. Star CEO Jennifer Sun explains 

“Pentana Compliance used to be a company called Redlands Solutions, and their product suite was called Insights. Within the first few months of me joining Star, about two and half years ago, Redlands was for sale. We looked hard at the Insights suite, and I knew deep down this kind of capability would make a real difference for Star and its clients. Maybe because I was so new to the job as CEO I didn’t have the conviction to push a purchase through, and Redlands was acquired by Ideagen instead. Three years in, with the need for individual accountability and training and competency products more important than ever, we approached Ideagen with an offer to buy these two solutions, and here we are.”

So says Star CEO Jennifer Sun, talking to your Star blogger about the company’s biggest push yet to expand its compliance-process automation capabilities. These new SMCR and training and competency solutions—which will be known from here on out as Star Individual Accountability Regime (IAR) and Star Training & Competency (T&C)—will readily complement Star’s current employee conflicts monitoring capabilities and strategically extend the Star suite: helping clients address more employee related compliance challenges than ever on a single integrated platform, and make compliance simpler and easier for them in the process.

Individual accountability regulations came onto the scene in a very high-profile manner in 2016, with the introduction of the SMCR in the UK. This regulatory regime aimed to strengthen market integrity there by ensuring senior managers are held accountable for their conduct and competencies. By 2019 the SMCR had expanded significantly, to finally cover all Financial Conduct Authority-regulated financial services firms.

At the same time, regulatory regimes similar to the SMCR were popping up around the globe, including in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Singapore. It was clearly an idea whose time had come, and the kind of software needed to manage it all would prove to be a perfect fit and follow-up for what Star was already providing to its client base. Sun: “Our clients have told us we cover about 50-75% of their employee compliance needs, which led us to ask, what’s the 25-50% we’re lacking?” To which they answered, ‘we’re a UK company subject to the SMCR.’ Or, ‘we’re a company domiciled outside of the UK, but subject to the SMCR because we have business there.’ Or, ‘we’re a company with employees and businesses sitting in the four other countries where individual accountability regimes are active.’ This product acquisition was about meeting our clients’ desire to bring their employee compliance needs under a single platform to drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and give their employees a one-stop-shop portal to action their compliance obligations.”

Being the comprehensive compliance software solution to the office of the CCO is Star’s ultimate goal. “Our end customer is the office of the CCO,” says Sun, “and employee-related compliance is a big portion of the compliance program that CCOs are responsible for. It’s not their only priority, but it’s a big one. When I looked at our opportunity to continue to go across the horizontal—meaning to look more and more at the tools and software that CCOs need—I thought, what’s the best place for us to start? Start from a position of strength, and for Star it’s employee compliance. IAR and T&C fill the gaps in our employee compliance capabilities very neatly. We could have built the products ourselves, but the Redland products were so good we knew the acquisition route was the smarter way to go. It allowed us to meet our clients’ needs for additional products faster while continuing to focus our existing teams on executing on our ambitious roadmap for our core products.”

When asked about the synergies she saw in this purchase—on the product and people side—Sun had plenty to offer on why IAR and T&C are set to fit so tidily into the Star employee compliance suite.

“There are lot of great synergies I’m really excited about,” says Sun. “IAR and T&C are key in the employee compliance space. It will be exciting to go to our customers and prospects and be able to offer the most comprehensive employee compliance suite on the market. Our clients want to consolidate vendors, they want to save money, and they want greater efficiencies in otherwise very complex manual workflows. We can offer them all of that with our new integrated employee compliance suite.” Company culture was also a key factor in Sun’s decision to acquire the Redlands products. Two and half years ago, when Sun first met the then Redlands team, the two sides hit it off right away. “The culture of the team there is very complementary to the culture at Star,” offers Sun. “As we talked about our mission, our people, and our values, you could tell we were similar companies. Company culture alignment can make all the difference in the success of an acquisition.”

So what’s high on the to-do list now that this key acquisition is complete? Sun: “We know we have an existing customer base at Star that’s very eager to see us have IAR and T&C. So the first thing for us is to spend the next few months focused on key integrations between the current Star products and our new products. It’s important for us to show very quickly to our clients and the market the value of this combination. And then there are Redland’s existing clients. We’re excited to talk to them, make them feel valued and welcome, and ensure that they receive the level and quality of service they were accustomed to. To be philosophical about it all, maybe two and half years ago the time wasn’t right for this acquisition. Maybe Star wasn’t ready. Maybe I wasn’t ready. And maybe the market wasn’t ready. But we’re all ready now.”