When Miriam De Dios Woodward became CEO of PolicyWorks LLC more than three years ago, the company was poised for some tremendous growth. 

“The expectation when I was hired was to look at that next growth stage for the company and to make that happen,” she said. 

And she has. Now, the West Des Moines-based company is entering a new chapter of global growth under a new name — ViClarity. 
Following a dozen years of steady organic growth as a regulatory compliance firm for the credit union industry, PolicyWorks expanded into the technology space a year ago with its acquisition of ViClarity, an international provider of governance, risk and compliance software in Europe. On March 1, the combined company rebranded under the ViClarity name and it is staking out new opportunities in additional markets — primarily insurance and health care — as a cross-functional provider of governance, risk and compliance services and software. 

“We expanded in terms of not only our products and services, but also into new markets,” De Dios Woodward said. “We’ve largely worked in the credit union space previously, but now we’ve expanded so that essentially any highly regulated industry can use our services. We’re primarily focused on the insurance and health care sector, in addition to financial services.” 

The company remains majority-owned by the Iowa Credit Union League, but over the past decade it has picked up additional investors, including the Ohio, California and Nevada credit union associations. With last year’s acquisition of ViClarity, its formerly Ireland-based company’s founder, John “Ogie” Sheehy, is also an owner in the combined company. 

As the credit union industry has evolved, there has been lots of consolidation in the industry that has helped drive ViClarity’s growth, De Dios Woodward said. 

“You have a lot of smaller credit unions going away, but merging into very large ones,” she said. “As the large ones get to a certain stage, they also have additional regulatory requirements with the [Consumer Financial Protection Board]. So again, just over time we’ve seen the need to continue to grow. Credit unions are evolving and they’re continuing to need the services, and the writing was on the wall from a technology standpoint that [technology] helps solve a lot of issues.

“There are not a lot of organizations like ours that can now combine the services with the technology,” she said. “I think that’s what makes us very, very appealing, and it’s just a great value proposition for our clients, especially on the financial services side.”  

European foothold, new U.S. markets

With the acquisition of Ireland-based ViClarity, the company now has a large client base in Europe and the United Kingdom, De Dios Woodward said. The Irish side of the business has operated since 2008. 

“So with that acquisition came a lot of opportunity, and certainly we’ve been working on taking advantage of that,” she said. “To avoid some of the confusion with the company on the technology side using the ViClarity brand — that’s how the company was named from its beginning, and we were PolicyWorks – it just made a whole lot of sense to go down the ViClarity route.”  

ViClarity is well-versed in the European market, “because from the beginning ViClarity has served credit unions there, but also insurance and health care. And many of the insurance and health care organizations there are also global companies, so they may have headquarters in Europe, but also counterparts in the U.S. So by default, we’re essentially serving global clients.”

Overall, the company is a newcomer to the health care and insurance sectors, “so that’s really where our focus is going to be over the next few years to build awareness of our services,” De Dios Woodward said. “And especially with insurance being in our backyard here in Iowa, there’s a lot of potential and opportunity. We do have a few clients in both of those areas — insurance and health care — but we’re really at the very beginning stages of that and are hoping to grow that even further as folks start to get to know who we are.”