Financial crime caseload productivity stagnated or worsened this year with investigators warning they need more adequate technology, training and investment to keep up with the criminals, research has found.

report from web based security firm Authentic8, in association with the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS) found that 57% of investigators from 150 organisations worldwide say they could only handle the same number of cases or less than they did in 2019.

It also found nine in 10 investigators feel more investment is needed in open source intelligence gathering capabilities to accelerate time to insight for investigations.

The report says: “Stagnant or declining caseload productivity is not just a matter of investigator frustration; it can lead to increased organizational risks”. These risks include additional costs due to fraud, falling out of compliance, decreased brand trust and declining profitability, the report said.

Training to keep up with evolutions in criminal tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as changes in technology, ranks as the top challenge for investigators, cited by 28 per cent of respondents. The report said: “They are struggling to get the specialized training they need to successfully perform investigations in the most efficient manner.”

The report also found that 25% of respondents are leveraging the dark web for investigations. However, 46% don’t, but indicate that it would be valuable to do so if it could be done securely and with an audit trail to satisfy compliance and risk management teams.

It said: “For investigators to keep up with their adversaries and improve time-to-insight and overall productivity, companies should train and equip them properly for dark web access.

“This requires maintaining detailed audit logs that capture and securely store all researcher activities; providing isolation from malicious files and sites; and offering rock-solid anonymity to prevent retribution against the company and/or exposing to a target that they are being investigated.”

The report also highlighted that investigators value anonymity while conducting their work.