Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA)’s long awaited new data collection platform APRA Connect has been finally confirmed to go live on 30 September 2021. Following a 6-month period of suspension of the project due to the pandemic, APRA has recommenced the project with a revised approach and timeline.
APRA considers APRA Connect to be a strategic enabler for more granular data collections in the future and that the new platform will gradually reduce the regulatory burden on the industry.
APRA Connect will replace the existing desktop-based software Direct to APRA (D2A) over time. APRA Connect is a web-based platform and as such will introduce a new user experience along with certain major implications on the existing processes being used by entities for submission.
One of the major changes with the introduction of APRA Connect is the elimination of copy paste manual submission method being used by several entities today. APRA Connect will only support manual entry of single cells as opposed to current D2A platform which can allow copy paste of tabular data. This is a significant change to the industry and its prudent for entities to prepare early for this transition.
For manual data entry, users will no longer be able to copy and paste multiple rows of data; copy and paste works for single cells only in APRA Connect.
APRA Connect will support other methods such as upload of data via XML or XBRL formatted files. APRA has also mentioned API-based data uploads will be available at some point, the technical details of which are yet to be made publicly available.
It is clear from APRA’s announcements that APRA is keen to see the industry transition out of the existing manual submission processes and has provided early visibility of the implications to the industry. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) recently published an article calling it the “death of cut and paste” with the introduction of APRA Connect.
Institutions remain concerned about a backlash if things go wrong. Westpac, for example, was fined $1.5 million by APRA in 2019 for late data submission that APRA deputy chairman John Lonsdale said served as "a strong message to industry that compliance with our reporting standards is mandatory and cannot be considered secondary to other business priorities." In recent times, there is heightened focus from APRA on more granular data collection from the industry. The introduction of APRA Connect combined with more granular data collections requests such as COVID-19 specific forms, or ARS-220 Credit Quality reporting standard and proposed changes for Superannuation Data collections will put additional strain on entities who are not prepared for automated submission methods when APRA Connect goes live.
What can entities do now to prepare for APRA Connect
Given the aggressive timeframe of rollout of APRA Connect combined with newer regulatory reporting changes coming in, it is prudent that entities start adjusting their processes now and invest in strategic tools that can seamlessly automate the submission process without requiring a significant change to entity’s existing processes. It is also important for entities to consider the impacts holistically across the entire process and not just upload of data. For example, granular data collection on a new platform will also mean changes to how this data is validated and reconciled against the general ledger or against other submissions.
RegConnect enables frictionless connectivity to both D2A and APRA Connect and aims at automating repetitive error-prone tasks with minimal disruption to your existing processes. Combining our core subject matter expertise in risk, regulations, and data, our innovative RegTech team have developed a solution that is cost-effective, and that gets entities ready for APRA Connect now while also reaping the benefits of enhanced automation on D2A as well.