Full confidence in anti-money laundering procedures yet to be reached

First AML research has found that over half (57 per cent) of UK financial services professionals are only ‘somewhat confident’ in their anti-money laundering procedures

The survey conducted by anti-money laundering experts First AML found that 52 per cent of respondents cited an instance of money laundering in the last year, with 23 per cent identifying more than one case.

Though anti-money laundering is moving up the company agenda at almost three quarters (73 per cent) of financial services companies, an array of external risks are proving challenging in the sector, namely:

  • the crisis in Ukraine and people trafficking (64 per cent);
  • the increased focus on customer transparency and ethical customer onboarding (62 per cent);
  • the increased risk of fines (51 per cent).

Many financial services companies were also found to be facing process and compliance challenges.

The top two anti-money laundering weaknesses were identified as document collection for individuals and companies — such as passports and share registers (27 per cent), and staff training on the latest requirements (29 per cent).

Intensifying the battle against money laundering is the expected recession, concerns around which are leading to almost a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents considering cutting AML compliance budgets.

When asked for their reasons to take AML compliance seriously, the growth of unethical business practices was cited the most (32 per cent) followed by abhorrent crimes (e.g. people or drug trafficking, arms dealing, and terrorism funding), at 26 per cent.

“Robust document collection processes and being up to date with the latest anti-money laundering regulations are essential for compliance in this area. So it’s shocking that AML budgets are being cut,” said Simon Luke, UK country manager at First AML.

“Without the right processes in place, companies are not only at risk of fines, but also of letting dirty money pass through their organisations.

“Although financial services companies need to protect margins and ensure that they are maximising returns for investors, it’s surprising that this comes at the expense of doing the right thing.

“When respondents were asked their biggest challenges around working in the financial services sector, ‘keeping up with regulations’ was the highest at 61 per cent. Businesses are under a lot of pressure, but cutting anti-money laundering budgets isn’t the answer.”

200 financial services professionals across the UK were surveyed by First AML for its study.


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