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Financial services industry puts anti-money laundering on the agenda

3 minute read

New research has examined the attitudes of banking and finance professionals towards anti-money laundering.

Anti-money laundering (AML) has risen up the company agenda, according to 100 per cent of workers in financial services, as businesses increase their focus on customer transparency and ethical customer onboarding.

Research by AML compliance technology firm, First AML, found that 60 per cent of Australian banking and finance professionals are confident in their AML procedures. 

Moreover, 55 per cent of professionals admitted that they had not encountered any instances of suspected money laundering during the past three years compared to 40 per cent who said they had. 

Additionally, for 33 per cent of the professionals surveyed, the rise in unethical business practices was said to be the primary cause of concern with AML compliance. 

Abhorrent crimes (27 per cent), growth in volume and complexity of online transactions (22 per cent). and a desire to avoid being fined (18 per cent) were also cited as key causes for concern.

“Australia has been recognised as an easy money-laundering target and with the increasing integration of Web 3.0 applications such as blockchain and other interoperable protocols and components, there is serious cause for concern about anti-money laundering compliance in the financial services sector,” said First AML country manager, Andrew Jackson.

“Professionals in this sector need quick, easy and accurate ways to onboard customers transparently and complete financial transactions with assurance that they are compliant.”

Around 34 per cent of professionals highlighted document collection for individuals and companies, including passports and share registers, as the weakest part of their AML process.

Other areas of weakness included training staff on the latest requirements (24 per cent), ongoing risk assessments and transaction monitoring (22 per cent), and onboarding clients with complex company structures (19 per cent).

Regulation and compliance ranked as the highest business priority with a score of 2.69 (1 being the highest), followed by improving the bottom line or protecting margin (3.83).

Avoiding fines (4.04), protecting reputation (4.07), growth and long-term business sustainability (4.17), maximising returns for investors (4.47), and ESG and doing the right thing (4.73) were among the other main business priorities.

Meanwhile, keeping up with regulations is seen as the biggest challenge of working in financial services for 58 per cent of those surveyed, ahead of data privacy (52 per cent), data breaches (48 per cent), unpredictable cash flows (44 per cent), and surpassing competition (36 per cent).

AUSTRAC recently ordered an audit of Perth Mint after identifying compliance concerns with AML and counter-terrorism financing laws.

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.