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Webinar Highlights: 5 Key Takeaways from ‘How to Manage Anti Money Laundering (AML) Processes’

20th Oct 2023
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Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting.

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As the crackdown on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) intensifies, accountants are still in the hot seat.

 

Last month, Danielle Fisher, our Product Manager from GoProposal by Sage, joined David Winch, a forensic accountant and AML expert, Samantha Nelmes, the Director of LilyIris Accounting, and Richard Hattersley, AccountingWEB’s editor, to discuss the:

  • Challenges of heightened AML regulations
  • Variance between the governing bodies
  • Importance of documentation
  • Supporting role of technology

Events such as the Ukraine War have heaped additional safety checks onto an already cumbersome verification process. Currently, this process looks the same for every entity – from local contractors all the way up to global nuclear construction companies.

Here are five key takeaways for sole traders and accountants in practice on how you can get on top of AML and bring others onboard.

 

  1. Really get to know your AML policies.

Downloading an AML template from your professional body and saving to your system is no longer going to cut it. Take the time to personalise a policy around your practice and understand it inside and out. Once you understand the policy and its implementation thoroughly, you will be in a far stronger position to explain it should your practice come under review.

AML is notoriously dry and information-heavy, but real-life scenarios and training can help bring it to life. As Samantha Nelmes points out, it’s essential to break down complex information so that every team member, regardless of their level, can understand it. Taking an online assessment to check your understanding and recording the results in a training log can also provide invaluable evidence.

 

  1. Use technology to hang up the virtual ‘coat-hooks’.

“Without an AML system in place, there will be failures,” says David Winch. “Ask if you should use electronic software and checks for AML and the textbook answer will be ‘no’. But in reality, technology is almost a necessity.”

Technology can help you implement a simple, structured, and coherent approach to AML that will reduce the chances of missing anything, as well as the time involved in fetching paperwork or going back-and-forth over email.

Automated AML systems like GoProposal for Sage help you vet clients, flag missing documentation, and monitor any suspicious activity in real-time. Furthermore, it will send automated reminders to make sure that you have the right documentation in place and are following procedure.

That being said, automation will never fully replace the work involved in ‘knowing your client’ (KYC). That’s where regular calls come in.

 

  1. Integrate AML into your onboarding and check-in calls.

For Richard Hattersley, onboarding and AML go together like peanut butter and jelly. For Samantha, AML is a part and parcel of every call – from fee reviews to general check-ins and calls to manage scope creep.

 

  1. Turning AML into an opportunity

During busy seasons, AML is often the last piece of work at the bottom of a pile of paperwork.

Danielle is an advocate for using technology not just for compliance but also strengthening client relationships from the get-go.

“Onboarding is a chance to change how your clients feel towards you, and make the value of what you do evident,” says Danielle. “It can help you ramp up your client relationship from the outset and give you the tools to have the regular conversations that Samantha is having.”

 

  1. Price and package your onboarding to attract clients who understand the value of your services.

The debate over whether to charge for onboarding is ongoing. However, when you offer high-quality services that save clients significant amounts of money, it is essential to recognise and price that value.

David offers an insight into pricing strategy, suggesting that “If you’re saving a client £12,000, charging £4,000 is reasonable and the client will walk away happy.”

Most services now charge a small initial consultation fee, and for accounting, it is no different. Charging a client just £30 for an initial consultation can help establish the value of your time, experience and services, while filtering out the clients that might push back or be looking for the cheapest service possible.

 

Ultimately, implementing firm-wide risk assessment, policies, procedures, and training records for the team is essential. Technology can help you manage your AML and store all necessary documentation in one place. Additionally, automated reminders ensure you remain compliant.

In conclusion, while anti-money laundering can be easily forgotten or left for another day, with the right approach and tools, you can ensure that AML fits into your daily processes and feels second nature.

Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to move away from mandatory tick-box exercises and instead get client relationships started on the right foot, streamline processes, and ensure the security and legitimacy of financial transactions.

For more insights and expert opinions, watch the full on-demand webinar here.