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Napier webinar summary: Women Leading the Fight Against Financial Crime
Nicolette Brown
February 4, 2021

Earlier this week, we had the pleasure of bringing together an incredible group of women in our webinar dedicated to looking at the current challenges facing the world of compliance. Our expert knowledge-sharing panel included:

Oonagh van den Berg

Founder of Raw Compliance

Nur Fazlim Kunju

Head of Compliance at Axiata Digital

Jessica Chuah

Director of Compliance at Clik

Karyn Kenny

Attorney Advisor at the US Department of Justice

Mariola Marzouk

Head of Product at Napier

Nicolette Brown

Webinar Moderator and Head of Content at Napier

Here’s a summary of some of the key points we discussed:

1. Technical challenges in implementing AML in evolving regulated environments

Sharing her experiences as Director of Compliance at a Cambodian fintech, Jessica explained how difficult compliance becomes without effective AML technology. Screening tools, for example, can give a lot of false positives which are time consuming to process and can even, in her experience, render the entire screening process meaningless. Gathering data, setting key definitions, and establishing risk category classifications are among the other big challenges she faces.

2. Practical challenges in implementing AML controls

As well as technical challenges in the fight against financial crime, there are practical challenges too. Many AML products have been developed from a technical perspective, rather than a client perspective. Oonagh explained the practical challenges in making AML controls operational in a greenfield infrastructure that has been built for a tech product but not a functioning business to date. She emphasises how identifying control owners and preventing conflicts of interests are key.

Consideration must also be given to what is good enough for today versus tomorrow's need, as well as keeping an eye on evolving regulatory environments while being mindful of financial constraints.

3. Regulatory complexity makes open, collaborative dialogue essential

Nur highlights regulatory differences across the globe and as we have recently seen with PayPal, definition differences between supervisory and government bodies only hinder compliance.

Oonagh points out that despite the differences, many regulators take the approach of one size fits all – but this isn’t the case. In acknowledging that organisations come in different shapes and sizes, a ‘hand holding’ approach is highly effective in assisting with compliance, as we have seen with the MAS in Singapore. Regulators should have a role in helping companies comply.

Karyn emphasises that fintechs are a developing sector, so an evolving regulatory landscape should be expected. She adds that communication and relationships are incredibly powerful. Public-private partnerships are really important for moving away from operational silos to understanding challenges and knowledge sharing.

4. Tech sits right at the centre of compliance

Jessica stresses the importance of technology in the fight against financial crime, adding that many processes in evolving countries are still manual. Mariola advises that tech needs to be accountable and transparent, and achieve the fine balance of facilitating everyone’s needs.

How well you keep the front end and back end of AML systems innovative will quickly become clear and could be the bottle neck for client experience success.

5. Compliance is cultural so tone at the top is paramount

Accountability and culture are tightly interwoven. Oonagh explains how the tone at the top is paramount to ensuring the right compliance culture is being developed, and that commitment to regulatory requirements comes from CEOs. Compliance falls apart when the wrong attitudes are adopted.

Compliance officer mindset is integral to compliance. The move from corporate compliance into fintech compliance requires not only a mindset and skill set shift, but a total acceptance that everything you know on infrastructure needs to be built and designed for. This requires investment in people and tech.

Karyn also adds how problematic wilful negligence is.

6. Regulatory boldness could help combat financial crime

Finally, speaking in her capacity of Head of Product at Napier, Mariola would like regulators to be bolder. She explains how not enough financial crime is being stopped, and there is so much more Napier could do if permitted to do so.

Watch the replay of this incredible discussion here

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