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A name you may not know #8212 but you should Paramus-based fintech KOGER focuses on helping financial firms cope with regulations

From left, Ras Sipko, COO, and Wasseem Ghorayeb, VP of operations, KOGER.-(AARON HOUSTON)

As a business, KOGER stands out in the banking and finance sector in various ways, but in no way is it more different from fellow travelers in the industry than its ability to say this with a heretical lack of sarcasm: Regulations are the gift that keeps on giving.

The Paramus-based company has grown alongside the ever-more-rigorous regulations that touch financial institutions, banks and Wall Street broadly. Its fintech platform has been built to serve the administration and compliance needs of these businesses, an area that — as Ras Sipko, KOGER’s chief operating officer, said — is changing nearly from one day to the next.

The fintech firm’s main business line is technology that manages the complex processes involved with all the fund tracking, reporting and fee calculation that goes on with transactions in the financial sector related to investment funds.

KOGER is as behind-the-scenes as it gets, so it accepts that a lack of name recognition comes with the territory — even if it has a share registry system that handles around 8,000 funds and about $2 trillion in assets (a figure that outstrips the GDP of most of the world’s nations).

“This was something we started doing in 1994,” Sipko said. “And when we started, there was nothing (like this) available.”

So, naturally, it became the sector’s leader.

A lot of companies have followed in the company’s footsteps. Wasseem Ghorayeb, vice president of operations at KOGER, said the firm has been able to hold onto market share despite that.

“Critical mass has been the main thing — because we were first to the market,” he said. “(Being a 20-year-old company) also means we’ve seen the industry change and we’ve grown in proportion to it.

“So, others have had trouble keeping up.”

That’s where providing the latest tools to deal with the latest oversight of financial works comes in. And it’s not just looking in the United States for where solutions are needed.

“You now see in the (European Union) more expansive anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws in place,” Ghorayeb said. “With all these policies coming onto the books, it has become very cumbersome for international institutions to do these due diligence operations on their own.”

Policy changes — from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Labor — also abound locally and abroad, so KOGER will have to be responsive.

That’s a call the company has long answered.

“And keeping ourselves at the cutting edge of this has everything to do with having an in-depth industry knowledge that comes from being in the sector so long,” Ghorayeb said.

How real is the Dodd-Frank repeal?

Very unceremoniously, the most substantial regulation to come out of the financial crisis looked like it was on its way out earlier this month.

At least that was the intent of legislation referred to as the Financial CHOICE Act, which cleared the House of Representatives without much fanfare. New rules in it would replace much of the regulatory framework for financial institutions and banks introduced in the Dodd-Frank Act.

But Pat Ryan, CEO and president of First Bank in Hamilton, sees it more as political theater than anything else — given that there is not much certainty that it will make it through the Senate.

“I’m skeptical that this will turn into real reform,” he said. “This was pushed ahead without the legwork of getting a consensus. To get something done, you have to sit down with the various power brokers and figure out a compromise, live with it and fine tune the details. This is something else.”

As far as whether the legislation could be a boon for the local financial sector, the devil’s in the details (unsurprisingly, with the bill consisting of more than 500 pages).

“There are components that are interesting ideas, such as smaller banks having a threshold of holding capital to be more lightly regulated,” Ryan said. “(In any case), I do think there’s a growing consensus that community banks were largely responsible citizens and that some of the more draconian regulations to come out of the crisis don’t need to be applied to that part of the sector.”

Brett Johnson

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