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How to choose the right AML tools for your firm

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The increasing depth and complexity of anti-money laundering compliance now takes up more accounting firm time than ever before, and has led some practitioners to label it an “anti-new-client” process. Can a new wave of software tools help make the process more efficient and what do these products need to do?

28th Sep 2022
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Once a limited part of the compliance landscape for accountants, anti-money laundering (AML) processes have ballooned into a sizeable chunk of accounting firms’ workloads.

Speaking ahead of AccountingWEB’s Tech Pulse show on Friday 30 September, John Toon, technology strategy lead at Beever & Struthers, and Izzi Rosenberg, practice manager at Harris Rosenberg, outlined a number of the challenges firms face when tackling their AML obligations – and the steps practitioners are taking to try and alleviate them.

“It frustrates our staff and our clients,” said Toon. “It involves myriad processes: setup, billing, marketing and so on. We do AML at volume and like every firm in our position we have a scale issue because of the time it takes to process the checks.”

“Compliance checks are expensive,” added Rosenberg. “Banks don’t charge for them but they get passive income on top of their fees.” Harris Rosenberg has recently been trialling an onboarding fee for clients to try to claw back some of the cost – and according to Rosenberg, the scheme has been successful so far.

Efficiency and automation

To meet the rising demand for efficiency and automation, over the past few years the number of AML software solutions on the market for UK firms has mushroomed. These are offered either as standalone products such as AMLCC or XamaTech, included as part of onboarding tools like Ignition or GoProposal, or rolled into overall suite products such as IRIS or TaxCalc.

While both panellists agreed that due to the varied nature of accounting firms and the work they do no one-size-fits-all solution, they outlined that there are certain compliance marks a good AML tool needs to hit. 

“Software should take the pain away but most of the time AML tools only focus on the initial onboarding – they don’t deal with ongoing requirements such as identifying updates and making reports if anything suspicious occurs,” said Toon.

For Rosenberg, good AML solutions need to adapt to the needs of the user and the particular scenarios they face. “Our previous software took a very much a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “It asked the same questions regardless of the client, which made it inefficient. There needs to be a decision tree that cuts out unnecessary work.”

“Ideally accountants should aim for a slick, defined process that doesn’t take away the thinking behind it,” added Toon. “What often gets forgotten is the need to collate the information you’ve now got and hand it over to a practice management system.”

Getting to know clients

Rosenberg also highlighted that the legislation could be viewed as an opportunity. “It’s a chance to get to know new clients better,” he said. “Get information at an early stage, work out what services we can offer and potentially upsell.”

John Toon and Izzi Rosenberg join AccountingWEB technology editor Tom Herbert for a special edition of Tech Pulse at 10am on Friday 30 September 2022. 

The interactive session will cover the current AML environment for accounting firms, look at what tools are out there to help and what AML software needs to do. There will be time to answer viewers’ questions.

For more information or to register click here.

Replies (2)

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By OrmeGoat
30th Sep 2022 08:17

Busy day for me today. Will it be available to watch at my "leisure"?

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Replying to OrmeGoat:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
30th Sep 2022 09:43

No problem OrmeGoat! Greater technical minds may correct me here, but I'm pretty sure that if you visit the showpage (link above) and 'subscribe' then you'll be able to watch 'on-demand' at your leisure. Any problems just drop me a message via my profile page.

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