Managing AML compliance in uncertain times

Tony Machin, CEO, TrustID, discusses how accountants can conveniently comply with KYC and AML requirements in a fast-moving business environment 


s an accountant you’re used to dealing with multiple challenges at once – but you could be forgiven for thinking things have got a little tougher of late. The combination of lockdown and Brexit have led to frequent changes in tax regulations, new compliance issues and increased uncertainty. But, while dealing with these issues, you still need to guard against the ever-increasing threat of financial crime. According to a recent article in The Economist, “last year global banks were hit with $10.4bn in fines for money-laundering violations, an increase of more than 80% on 2019”.

Of course, you’re legally required to perform Know Your Customer (KYC) checks as part of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance. But, even without the legal imperative, there are compelling reasons to follow due diligence. Properly conducted KYC checks can not only guard against money laundering, but also prevent corruption and fraud. All these issues can have serious consequences – both for your business and for the wider society that we live in.

Tony Machin, CEO, TrustID

The challenge of implementing KYC for accountants

The way we work has changed drastically since the beginning of lockdown, with remote working becoming the default option for desk-based workers. Accountants therefore need to keep up with changing requirements and carry on conducting robust KYC checks while working remotely. But, in these times of uncertainty, most organisations are reluctant to invest in expensive new digital solutions. So, how can accountants conduct remote KYC checks with limited resources and without significant capital outlay?

Illustration of users. Credit: TrustID

Technology can help

Many organisations have traditionally conducted manual KYC and AML checks. But manual checks can be time-consuming, inconsistent, resource heavy and even be based on outdated information.

A more modern and effective approach is to use an automated KYC service. The good news is that this technology is no longer reserved for large businesses. Smaller organisations can use automated KYC systems as a way to carry out straightforward and affordable KYC checks online. Moving to an automated AML service can help you comply with the latest legislation, strengthen your identity verification and even improve the on-boarding experience for your customers. Here are just some of the benefits that technology could bring:

  • Reduce effort
    Capturing customer information through an automated system makes compliance simpler and gives you a consistent, robust process, no matter who performs your KYC checks. Clear, downloadable reports also make results easy to understand and give you a straightforward way to demonstrate your AML compliance for an internal audit or visit from your regulator.

  • Save time
    Online AML platforms can carry out KYC checks in minutes. What’s more, with electronic identity verification, you no longer need to manually check documents and you can store the results electronically, removing the need to keep paper copies. Automated KYC services also give extra reassurance by checking and monitoring your customers against political exposed person (PEP) or sanctions lists. Many providers offer the same service level agreement to all businesses, to ensure AML compliance is quick and easy no matter what size you are.

  • Make checks from anywhere
    You can access online KYC check services from any smart device or PC. This allows you to easily capture and upload an image of a client’s ID, wherever or however you meet them – in person or on-line. Some KYC providers also offer additional features. Remote upload, for example, allows customers to share ID documents over a secure link. For higher-level security checks, facial recognition software can be used to match a candidate’s selfie with the photograph in their identity document.

  • Enjoy peace of mind
    With access to industry-leading technology you can enjoy greater confidence in your protection from fraud. TrustID’s online KYC checks, for example, start with best-in-class identity verification. We assess the authenticity of identity documents from across the globe using a combination of AI, biometrics, and human expertise. This saves you from the need to train and maintain in-house document experts, reduces your chance of approving fake documents and prevents customers from using a fraudulent identity to access your services.

  • Only pay for what you use
    Investing in new services or technology during uncertain times can be risky, but some ID service providers offer a low minimum order and don’t tie you in to long-term contract. Look for a KYC checking service that offers modular features that you can add over time as your requirements change, or a pay-per-check pricing model that lets you scale up or down with your customer demands.

Remaining compliant with KYC and AML regulations will always be an issue – but thanks to new affordable technology, there are now alternative options for KYC checks that are convenient and robust, and accessible to all business sizes. For accountants, online KYC checks offer a quick and easy way to comply with AML regulations and leave you more time to focus on balancing the figures.