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The financial crime arms race: Strengthening institutional security


As financial criminals innovate their methods and the costs of compliance mount, financial institutions are responding by centralising their data and investigations. Adopting effective technology and a sophisticated, enterprise-wide approach will enable banks to keep fighting fit in an increasingly difficult environment, says Joe Friscia, president of NICE Actimize. 

What are the major challenges banks currently face in terms of financial crime?

Joe Friscia: Challenges relating to financial crime include wide-ranging, complex issues – the rising costs of compliance coupled with an unpredictable regulatory climate. More importantly, we see an increase in the sophistication of criminals and the illicit use of banking infrastructure to disrupt the economy and the institutions themselves. We see our customers working to improve efficiency and even leveraging automation to address these challenges, while creating an environment where their analysts are better able to focus on quality and productivity. 

Should banks tackle each of the challenges individually? Is it possible or desirable to take a more integrated approach?

Joe Friscia: We firmly believe that an integrated, holistic approach is the way to best address financial crime-related efficiency and compliance issues. Risk should not be viewed through a niche lens, but broadly and holistically across an organisation. In addition, there are clear advantages to creating centralised data, which allows for more comprehensive investigations and improved quality, among other advantages.  

Will complying with anti-financial crime regulation give a bank all the protection it needs, or must banks look beyond compliance for an effective programme of protection?


Joe Friscia, president of NICE Actimize

Joe Friscia: There is much more to protecting our financial institutions than simply adhering to regulatory demands, as the rise in cyber crime demonstrates. Compliance is important because it is the right thing to do and because it puts the bank on the path to mitigating its financial crime risk. But it does not make sense to stop there, since each bank has to view its overall appetite for risk in accordance with its own requirements, business goals, client base, products and services. Fighting fraud, for example, requires its own specialised strategies and solutions. That being said, we believe the goal should be to unify financial crime, risk and compliance programmes under one umbrella to achieve a full view of risk and be able to take action on it quickly.

What are the key technologies that can help fight financial crime?

Joe Friscia: There are a range of analytics and software solutions addressing financial crime, risk and compliance objectives, that specifically target enterprise fraud, anti-money laundering and financial markets compliance. Many of these solutions are designed to target specific problems inherent to financial institutions:

  • We need to ingest and handle growing volumes of data
  • We are using new, more advanced analytics to handle unique threats
  • We are adopting cutting-edge visualisation techniques
  • We have created an award-winning unified case management platform that enables banks to handle risk and assess investigations more accurately than ever before.

As the cost of compliance continues to rise, regulators demand a greater level of sophistication. Becoming ‘buzzword compliant’, as we like to say, NICE Actimize will focus on doubling down its investment in analytics. We want to operationalise how customers utilise analytics to improve detection capabilities, workflow processes and cost efficiencies.

How can banks ensure they have effective measures to fight financial crime in an environment of constrained budgets and cost-cutting?

Joe Friscia: Banks can help ensure they have the right strategies and measures in place by creating an integrated structure in their financial crime planning – they need to work in a centralised and consistent manner. Institutions should also rely on trusted technology with a strong track record of performance metrics and with which their regulators are already familiar. They will also benefit by leveraging technology that makes employees more productive and that can be used to focus them on investigations rather than on manual work such as data entry and data collection. All programmes need to be updated regularly and measured consistently as financial crime-related issues change and become tougher all the time. 



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