This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Firms confront regulatory and budgetary challenges

Firms confront regulatory and budgetary challenges


Digital compliance experts at SmartSearch warn that the industry must shed outdated processes to not only meet increasing regulatory demands but also to optimize available resources.

As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve and budgets tighten, regulated firms find themselves at a crossroads. Collette Allen, COO of SmartSearch, emphasizes the pressing need for a modernized approach to compliance in the face of growing sentiment among regulated firms, stating that they are compelled to do more with fewer resources.

Industry Challenges: A report by Thomson Reuters from the previous year indicated that a majority of financial services firms anticipated an upswing in regulatory activity. Simultaneously, respondents reported grappling with managing cost pressures and balancing compliance demands as significant challenges. This underscores the industry's predicament, where the expectations of heightened regulatory scrutiny coincide with the need to optimize operational efficiency.

Post-Brexit Dynamics: KPMG's Regulatory Barometer further adds complexity to the landscape, highlighting increasing scrutiny around Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations, sustainable finance, and payment systems. The barometer sheds light on the growing pressures faced by financial services firms, especially as regulations become more 'UK-centric' post-Brexit. This shift necessitates adaptability in compliance strategies to align with evolving standards.

Digital Transformation Urgency: Collette Allen echoes the concerns of regulated firms facing breaking points, emphasizing that many have been slow to adopt a digital compliance strategy. Outdated manual checks, particularly in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) processes, persist despite their time-consuming nature and resource-heavy requirements. Allen argues that such practices drive up business costs and expose firms to higher risks of financial crime.

Survey Insights: A recent survey conducted by SmartSearch reinforces the industry's struggle, revealing that almost half of regulated firms across legal, finance, property, and accountancy sectors still rely on manual checks for customer identity verification. Shockingly, 34% cling to manual verification methods, viewing them as the only way to "truly guarantee" a person's identity. This is in defiance of the recommendations outlined in the 2020 Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act, which encourages electronic verification (EV).

The Role of SmartSearch: SmartSearch, with its next-generation digital compliance platform, aims to address these challenges. The platform supports over 6,500 clients and 60,000 users, offering a comprehensive solution that combines EV with robust sanction screening, source of funds verification, and real-time monitoring. This integration allows for detailed customer checks to be completed in a matter of seconds, facilitating compliance with AML regulations and meeting Customer Due Diligence and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

Industry Impact and Support: SmartSearch's reach extends across various sectors, directly supporting more than 2,000 financial services firms, over 1,000 property firms, one-third of the UK's top 200 law firms, and half of the top 100 accountancy firms. The platform aims to streamline compliance processes, reduce the risk of human error, and utilize staff and resources more effectively. As the industry confronts unprecedented challenges, the adoption of digital compliance solutions becomes a crucial step for firms to navigate the complex regulatory landscape successfully.

Conclusion: The imperative to shed outdated compliance processes and embrace digital solutions is not just a matter of compliance; it is a strategic move to ensure operational efficiency, mitigate risks, and stay resilient in an ever-changing regulatory environment. As the industry continues to grapple with these challenges, the adoption of modern compliance strategies becomes not only a necessity but a catalyst for sustainable growth and success.