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Banker poll finds AML compliance lacking

Compliance officers say finding AML gaps their highest priority

Banker poll finds AML compliance lacking

Only 48% of poll participants believe that the financial institutions they work for have a strong culture of compliance involving anti-money laundering, with 29% expecting change in their firms approach to AML compliance this year.

The findings, by NICE Actimize, are a strong parallel for a market environment seeing increasing regulatory enforcement activity, more sanctions, and larger penalties and fines targeting individual accountability than ever before. Despite these issues, according to the poll conducted by the company, only 22% say their compliance culture could use improvement—an indication that much work remains to be done at financial institutions in establishing compliance-related priorities.

NICE Actimize conducted its Anti-Money Laundering "Culture of Compliance" Poll among 422 compliance professionals representing more than 300 financial services firms participating in a recent webinar. Nearly half the poll's respondents came from large global institutions from among 17 countries, with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada representing the largest share of the group's respondents.

Aligned to the issues faced in building a strong compliance culture, approximately 47% of the responding financial institutions rated identifying gaps in their overall anti-money laundering strategy as their most pressing AML concern for the next six to twelve months. Additionally, about 23% of the respondents cited model risk governance and model risk management requirements as another area for continued attention, followed by the desire of about 18% to avoid regulator-imposed sanctions. About 12% of the survey's respondents cited that being held personally responsible for noncompliant activities was something they'd be thinking about over the coming year.

Additional analysis of the poll results indicates that a strong 75% expect that significant, or at least some, operational changes have or will be implemented to improve the quality of data and information gathering at their organizations—an important indicator for the balance of the year. Understandably, these changes reflect financial institutions' positioning that they must act to respond to regulators in a timely manner to ensure minimal risk of sanctions and remediation.

"Increasingly, regulators are looking for accountability at both institutional and compliance officer levels," says Joe Friscia, president of NICE Actimize. "The current enforcement environment is demanding more of AML risk management efforts pushing compliance higher on the business agenda. Integrating processes such as customer risk assessment and sanctions screening efforts with transaction monitoring delivers a broader view of AML risk to a firm and enables greater ability to action against it. We believe that an enterprise-wide approach to integrating AML functions is key to establishing a thriving culture of compliance."

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of Banking Exchange and editor of the publication’s Tech Exchange e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each Tech Exchange issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and for ABA Banking Journal and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at jginovsky@sbpub.com.

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