Regulatory expectations at all-time high

Compliance departments are feeling increasingly challenged by higher regulatory expectations, coupled with staff shortages and technology concerns, according to a joint Dow Jones Risk & Compliance and Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) survey released at the 20th Annual International Anti-Money Laundering & Financial Crime Conference in Hollywood, Florida, last month.

The bi-annual survey, in its fourth year, is designed to assess the current regulatory environment and deepen the understanding of how new regulations are impacting the way companies work. Nearly 1,200 compliance and anti-money laundering staff throughout the world responded to the survey.

The survey found that increased regulatory expectations are the greatest anti-money laundering compliance challenge, cited by nearly two thirds of those polled worldwide, compared with just over half two years ago. Nearly half the respondents faced challenges in recruiting and retaining trained staff; a 36% increase on two years ago, while nearly a third of those polled cited outdated technology as a key concern.

This year’s survey saw that 60% of firms have added AML staff over the past 12 months; a 12% increase over the past three years. Other key findings from the survey include: FATCA requirements most prominent among drivers of increased workload, while 52% mentioned the impending implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive; an increase of nearly 24% over the past two years.

Standardized on-boarding processes and more stringent customer-acceptance standards have increased sharply in the past two years.