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NCA received 800,000 SARs in 2022-2023

19th Apr 2024
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Recent statistics from the National Crime Agency have revealed that over 800,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (specifically, 859,905) were submitted to the National Crime Agency in 2022-2023. 

Most of these Suspicious Activity Reports were from banks, but over 6,000 were from accountants and tax advisors. While this may sound like a lot, it’s only a 5% decrease from the year prior. 

It’s great that these statistics are moving in the right direction, but it still goes to show the challenges that firms are facing regarding organised crime and fraud. It also emphasises the importance of having sufficient Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures in place to prevent criminals from participating in such activity.  

However, taking on a client who launders money isn’t impossible either. For example, if a new client is part of an industry that you have little experience with, you may brush your doubts to the side. And if something snowballs into a much bigger issue than you initially anticipated, the impact can be time-consuming, expensive, and in worst cases, result in court cases. 

We get that AML work can often resemble the feeling of watching paint dry. It’s an admin burden, usually involving extra work for you (that’s often unbilled, mind you!), and is little more than a box-ticking exercise that never sees the light of day. 

So, how can you streamline all of this AML admin work effectively, while still remaining compliant? 

3 ways accountants can reduce time spent on AML 

1. Get an efficient onboarding tool 
helps better manage your firm’s workload, including all of the AML and KYC work that comes with onboarding new clients. 

2. Use electronic ID checks 
They’re much quicker, help cut down on paperwork, and can access data that might not be available offline (e.g. PEP and sanctions data) 

3. Use online risk assessment forms 
Built-in risk assessment questionnaires simplify this part of the process. It usually just involves clicking a few buttons and lets you set appropriate risk levels for clients. 

The best tool to reduce AML admin?

There are a variety of solutions out there, but whichever you do end up choosing, make sure it’s one that’s tailored to the accounting industry. For example, our own practice management solution, BrightManager, has time-saving AML features to streamline the process for you. These include: 

  • Cheap as chips AML credits: Go to Settings > AML credits and use the slider to add more credits. The more you buy, the cheaper they get per credit. 
  • Undergo AML checks: Go to New AML check and confirm some details, then click into AML ID or credit check. There’s an autofill option when entering details (name, postcode, passport details, etc.), or you can pop them in manually. 
  • In-built risk assessment: Go into a client and click Risk > Risk Assessment in the top right corner. Tick relevant boxes or leave comments where you deem necessary.  
  • Set your client a risk level: This will appear beside their name in the system. Remember to act accordingly based on the result they get – if they’re low risk, you can continue and accept engagement, but if they’re high risk, go straight to your MLRO. 

Disclaimer: These are just the typical steps in the process, so always check with your regulatory body to ensure you’re staying compliant to their required standard. 

CPD Anti-Money Laundering webinar 

Interested in learning more about Anti-Money Laundering? We’ve got a CPD-accredited AML webinar coming up on the 25th of April at 2:00 pm. 

We’ll be covering: 

  • The basics of AML 
  • Suspicious signs to watch out for 
  • How accountants and bookkeepers can streamline their AML processes 

Register now

eleanor vaughey 

 

Written by Eleanor Vaughey | Bright 

 

 

 

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