The Global Threat Assessment estimates that the value of money laundering in 2018 had reached U.S. $4.4 trillion, a sizable increase from the 2009 figure of U.S. $1.6 trillion.
Regulators worldwide exist to help financial organizations stay ahead of criminals. They want organizations to ensure that they know who they are doing business with and vigilantly monitor transactions and events for any suspicious activities.
Financial organizations are obligated to ensure they are not just compliant but effectively protect the business from financial crime. Regulators can impose substantial fines and sanctions, and in cases where organizations that have not followed the law can face a criminal case.
However, managing these cases and investigations is a challenging process. There is a multitude of information surrounding each case and a lot of paperwork to keep track of. This is why many well-established institutions use specific software to reduce the burden on investigations teams.
Here, we’ll discuss the key features of AML case management software and how to select the right solution to keep systems and processes effective in managing compliance obligations and combating financial crime. If you're considering building your own, you may want to see why buying is a better option.
AML Case Management for Financial Organizations Overview
Case Management is often the final part of an effective fraud and AML solution. Case management requires analysts to review and investigate any suspicious activity identified by either the KYC or transaction monitoring processes.
Companies can meet compliance regulations by creating an effective system for managing cases and investigations while reporting suspicious activities required by law. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations are consistently reviewed to ensure they respond and keep pace with criminal networks’ relentless efforts. This results in ever more stringent requirements.
AML case management encompasses the regulatory-compliance processes that monitor, detect, investigate, and report suspicious activities to FinCEN or the equivalent regulator in the relevant country. Effective AML case management protects the organization from falling victim to crime and the financial and reputational damage that results from being found non-compliant.
What is AML Case Management Software?
The collection, monitoring, and assessment of high volumes of information is used to determine whether or not an activity is suspicious. As the volume of transactions grows and a more significant number of them occur online, compliance obligations become more complex, and the risk increases.
AML case management must be streamlined to be efficient. Manual processes cannot keep pace with the workload, delaying investigations that should be carried out promptly, which is why the use of specialized AML technology has become a best practice.
Benefits of Having a Case Management Solution
Having a robust software solution helps financial organizations manage the complexity of AML management while allowing them to be more effective in mitigating financial crime risk.
The primary role of an AML case management solution is to enable financial organizations to comply with regulations that prevent financial crimes. Finding the right solution produces results that benefit not just processes and the people who manage them but also the organization.
- Efficiency - streamlined workflows and standardized actions save time and resources, allowing them to be redirected on investigations. Using templates to file U.S. SAR forms electronically automatically eliminates time-consuming, recurring processes that increase AML regulatory compliance costs.
- Current - organizations need to ensure that they are aware of updates to regulations and respond accordingly. A solution that addresses updates automatically ensures that no changes are missed.
- Insights - visualizations and the linking of activities and entities provides the insights needed to move beyond historically oriented investigation to identify patterns that predict suspicious activities.
Who Needs Case Management Software?
Criminals target financial organizations looking to move the proceeds of their activities into a legal, financial network. They are motivated, creative, and persistent. They look for vulnerabilities in processes and technologies that they can exploit for their own gain.
Digitization in the financial sector has increased the challenge of knowing who the customers are and what they are doing. Using complex business structures and stolen identities, criminal organizations quickly take advantage of any vulnerability to launder their money.
In addition to financial institutions, other sectors move funds in and out of customer accounts, making them a potential target - these include insurance companies, crypto platforms, and online gaming companies that take and payout on bets, to name a few.
From the very start of the customer relationship, organizations need to verify the identity of their customers as they are onboarded and continuously monitor activities to ensure that the customer is who they say they are and they are not a risk.
There are groups within the organization responsible for the primary functions of supporting compliance and protecting the business and clients from financial crime. Some or all of their role will rely on AML case management.
The most notable are the individuals or teams that design, deploy, and manage Risk and Compliance. This includes compliance officers that oversee anti-money laundering policies and ensure compliance and analysts responsible for putting the proper transaction monitoring rules in place to achieve this.
At a senior level and as part of a more comprehensive risk management remit, the risk officer is responsible for incorporating AML case management into the overall corporate strategies to identify and mitigate risks that the organization is exposed to.
Steps to Find the Right AML Case Management Software for Your Organization
The volume of activity and complexity of AML case management is only increasing as regulations keep pace with the persistence of bad actors looking to take advantage of financial organizations.
Legacy processes that are siloed and manual are not flexible or fast enough to address necessary changes and cannot scale in line with the volume of activity. This makes completing investigations on time very challenging. In addition, these systems can be expensive and difficult to maintain, and above all, they do not address the AML compliance requirements.
Solutions that focus only on automating case management workflows may improve efficiency but fall short of providing valuable insights that allow for a proactive approach that uses analysis to highlight patterns that predict suspicious activities and improve investigations.
Step 1: Define Requirements
An AML case management solution needs to support the AML program in the organization. This is determined by the size of operations, the volume of activities, the profile of customers (who they are and where they are located).
The program will include features such as customer due diligence (CDD), transaction monitoring, and identity verification to manage regulatory obligations. Stakeholders across the organization that are involved in AML activities need to be involved in gathering the requirements based on their areas of responsibility.
Step 2: Essential Functionality
When you know what you need for the organization to address compliance and prevent financial crime, the features and functionality of AML case management solutions can be reviewed and compared. The prioritization of features may vary, but there are several core elements that a solution should include.
- Streamlined customized workflows - AML case management needs to replace manual processes with automated ones to reduce the time required significantly.
- Audit trails - The best AML case management software allows workflows and processes to leave an audit trail that can be used for internal and external audits, including audits by regulators.
- Advanced analytics - By visualizing link and activity analysis, patterns can appear to improve the identification of suspicious activities.
- Automation of SAR filings - using a template and pre-filled forms, filings can be completed efficiently, reducing the time required and compliance costs.
Step 3: Usability
In addition to having a robust feature set, the right AML case management solution will be easy to use. By bringing data together into a single dashboard, analysts can see at a glance the information they need to the level of detail required. A consolidated view enhances efficiency and improves investigations.
Step 4: Scalability
Over time the context and operations of an organization will change, so too with the risk profile of the customers. As regulations change, as new technologies and processes are rolled out in the organization, the AML case management solution needs to continue to provide the essential functionality of protecting the business from financial crime and ensuring compliance.
How Unit21’s Case Management Product Can Help
Using Unit21’s Case Management Solution, financial organizations can save time and money on detecting valid cases by streamlining investigations and automating reporting. With less time and effort being directed to manual activities, investigations do not build up. This enables resources to focus on mitigating risk and fraud.
For instance, our customer PrizePool switched from spreadsheets to Unit21 for Transaction Monitoring and Case Management, and they were able to utilize our link analysis tool to prevent $500,000 in fraudulent transfers within the first three months of using the product - something that wouldn’t have been possible before they came onboard.
And one of our other customers, Lili Bank, reduced their investigation times by 75% after implementing Unit21.
When thinking about ROI, these cases alone demonstrate the potential power of the software when wielded by an experienced team and the potential impact a platform like Unit21 can have on a company’s bottom line, even in the short term.
Choosing an AML Case Management System: Key Takeaways
AML case management is essential to ensuring that the organization is compliant with regulatory and legal obligations and that processes are both efficient and effective. For best results, it needs to fit within your full risk and compliance program.
In sourcing the right AML case management software, organizations need to understand what the solution needs to provide clearly. Then they can evaluate potential solutions based on the features they offer and their ability to address the complex and evolving challenge of AML case management. It's also important to determine the best time to integrate an AML solution into your risk and compliance program.
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind when sourcing AML case management software for your organization:
- The landscape is constantly evolving - As long as criminals use financial institutions to launder their funds, AML compliance regulations will continuously be updated. This requires an understanding of and adherence to ever stricter rules and greater levels of transparency.
- Consequences of non-compliance are drastic - The financial and reputational impact of being found non-compliant can have irreparable consequences for the organization. An effective AML case management system is essential to enable an organization to meet its reporting requirements and avoid costly fines for non-compliance.
- Automation is vital for efficiency - Streamlining processes and automated SAR filing allows financial investigators to focus on investigation and identifying patterns that improve the detection of criminal activity.
- Informed analysis provides the best results - AML case management software systems should incorporate advanced technologies that allow for richer analysis to predict suspicious activities.
Ultimately, having a more robust AML compliance program allows you to reduce the overall costs of staying compliant with regulations.
Unit21’s AML Case Management Solution offers an advanced feature set to create timely and informed alerts that focus investigative efforts on valid cases. To make sure you're offering the best security to your users, make sure you are performing both fraud and AML operations.
To learn more about how automation, streamlined workflows, and automated reporting can improve the effectiveness of AML activities and deliver operational cost savings, get in touch today to schedule a demo.