The switch to remote working during the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on UK banks’ financial crime prevention measures at a time cases of fraud and money laundering were rising, survey respondents have said.

“Just as the pandemic put huge stresses on the health care system, it put huge stresses on fraud and financial crime management teams,” said Toby Carlin, senior director for fraud consulting at global analytics software provider FICO, which commissioned the survey.

“Teams that collaborate in person and work with large software systems that have restricted access found that working from home hurt their productivity. This was compounded as the volume of fraud attacks rose.”

Four-fifths (79%) of respondents from UK banks said working from home had a high or major impact on the effectiveness of their financial crime prevention, while half (49%) said a major challenge is having multiple systems for managing fraud and financial crime.

“Banks are feeling the pain of having fragmented software for managing fraud and financial crime,” said Carlin.

“Even though some 80% of the functions between fraud prevention software and AML software are the same, the systems are nearly always separate and the teams are usually separate too.

“In our survey, 64% of UK respondents said these teams don’t even report to the same person at the bank.”

The FICO study consisted of 110 interviews conducted by independent research firm OMDIA with senior executives responsible for combatting financial crime in the UK, as well as the US, Canada, Brazil, Germany and the Nordic countries.

OMDIA commented: “The pandemic has exasperated the challenges banks have in tackling both AML compliance and fraud, impacting fraud volumes and catalysing higher false positives as existing models struggle to adapt to changing customer behaviour.

“Dealing with higher workload volumes has concurrently been impeded by the switch to remote working, with platforms across many banks not effective in supporting changing demands.”

“That said, it hasn’t changed the fundamental nature of tackling fraud and financial crime, with the ability to achieve, and importantly maintain, high detection levels in the face of changing threats the core requirement.”

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