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New Approaches to Surveillance and Due Diligence Post-Pandemic Feature Heavily at A-Team’s RTSV Conference

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Surveillance in the new ‘work from anywhere’ environment and the drift toward continuous KYC due diligence emerged as key industry challenges during panel sessions at A-Team’s RegTech Summit Virtual online conference earlier this month. Delegates heard how surveillance professionals were struggling to deal with the mushrooming use of new collaboration channels and video-conferencing platforms. At the same time, the demand for rapid client on-boarding is driving faster KYC checks, placing demands on firms’ already-stretched due diligence capabilities.

In a session on Day 2 of the RTSV conference – ‘Leveraging RegTech to manage surveillance in the ‘work from anywhere’ environment’ – panellists discussed the post-pandemic shift to a digital and virtual working environment, and how the uptake of new collaboration tools has presented new risks, forcing significant changes in how firms conduct surveillance and monitor their activities for potential market abuse. Deftly moderated by David Cowland, an independent RegTech advisor and a former head of compliance operations, the panel included Ugne Willard, Head of EMEA Surveillance at Wells Fargo; Ben Parker, CEO and Founder of eflow; Michael Lehman, Partner at ACA Group; and Jordan Domash, General  Manager, Relativity Trace, at Relativity.

The panellists noted that communications habits had changed since Covid-19 forced many to work from home, increasing the use of new communications channels, such as MS Teams, that are not necessarily recorded for compliance reasons. This phenomenon is proving challenging for surveillance staff, who are struggling to strike the right balance between robust monitoring and allowing staff to leverage the new platforms in order to connect with clients and stakeholders. For example, with the use of voice and video communications at a high, surveillance professionals need an elegant way of combining transcripts of conversations with the original audio/video recordings as the former frequently contain significant numbers of errors, making monitoring for possible abuse difficult.

Meanwhile, the panellists said, staff are often more inclined today to use unrecorded mobile devices for their work communications, whether via voice or text-based messaging like WhatsApp. In these cases, practitioners need to monitor desktop and other regulated comms channels for instances of staff switching to unrecorded channels, which may require modification of existing surveillance systems and processes.

The panellists went on to discuss potential approaches and best practices for addressing the new ‘work from anywhere’ environment, which seems set to figure in most firms’ plans going forward. A recording of the conversation is available here.

A second panel on Day 2 of the conference -‘Leveraging RegTech to manage KYC, AML & financial crime compliance’ – explored how new technology solutions could help practitioners deal with emerging challenges around various forms of financial crime. The panellists included practitioners and RegTech executives, including moderator Dessa Glasser, Independent Board Member, Oppenheimer & Co., and Principal, The Financial Risk Group; Yasmin Omrani, Regulatory, Compliance, and AFC Innovation Lead, Deutsche Bank; Kai Schrimpf, Global Product Manager – AML Transaction Monitoring, UBS; Nitzan Solomon, VP, EMEA Head of Surveillance and Financial Crime Technology, Nomura; and Alexon Bell, Chief Product Officer, Quantexa.

As part of their discussion of the ever-changing methods used by online criminals, including the fraudulent use of Covid Loans and PPE procurement processes, one of the issues raised by the panellists was impact of firms’ often-siloed approach to due diligence. This, the panel suggested, was hampering efforts to create a holistic view of client activities, giving rise to demand for broader and more frequent KYC investigations. Practitioners were advised to collate their client data into a single data lake or repository, or failing that to ensure proper linkage between relevant data sets. Firms should also establish feedback loops between different compliance systems. For example, linking transaction monitoring to client risk profiles derived from KYC systems can help build a more holistic view of customers and counterparties; by assessing recent and ongoing transaction activities, practitioners can create a continuous view of the true risk posed by clients for KYC purposes, allowing them to map client behaviours to contemporaneous suspicious activities.

Again, the recording of the discussion can be accessed using this link: https://a-teamvirtualevents.com/event/regtech-summit-virtual-may-2021.

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