Financial crime is big business.  Financial crimes such as money laundering underpin other crimes such as drug trafficking, fraud and terror financing while posing significant risks to banks in the form of monetary losses, reputational damage and fines paid to regulators.

Banks around the world are working with regulators to establish the transparency and build the controls to fight financial crime.  At Accenture, we see our central mission as using innovation to change the way we create value by developing effective, sustainable responses to challenges posed by money laundering and related crimes.

Right now, the focus is on using technology to reduce manual and duplicative processes, shifting bank staff from low-value activities to areas requiring the judgment and decision-making capabilities unique to humans.  At the same time, we are working with banks and other financial services firms to leverage emerging technologies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) initiatives.  Ultimately the aim is to make these processes more focused on the customer, on the financial crime risks the customer may pose to the bank and how to mitigate these risks.

In a recent video collaboration with ITN Productions and the International Compliance Association, I talked about other issues on the very near horizon, including the need to obtain, organise and access data to support sophisticated analytics; the need to secure such data and keep it private; and the need to coordinate disciplines within banks (such as customer due diligence and transaction monitoring) for increased/enhanced effectiveness.

In addition, banks should re-think their technology capabilities to maintain the flexibility needed to react to the rapid evolution of technology.  And they are encouraged to determine whether and how to leverage common applications, technologies and data layers with other banks (through utilities or other structures) to both improve the detection and investigation of such crimes and, possibly, to reduce the cost of compliance.  Working together, banks can use enriched data to visualize risks and opportunities while reducing the overall cost of ownership of technology.

In this blog series, I will look at three key areas of focus for banks as they enhance their AML capabilities.  These include 1) advanced analytics and machine learning; 2) adverse media screening; and 3) integrated surveillance.

Each of these elements plays an essential role in an effective AML and financial crime program, but the real value for banks is in incorporating these and other elements into a cohesive structure.  The growth of financial crime and the increasing sophistication of bad actors across the globe call not only for heightened vigilance but for a comprehensive approach employing innovative technologies to deter, detect and address this serious operational, regulatory and reputational risk.


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