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AML and KYC Compliance: Challenges, Trends, and Opportunities

Marianne Elie, Director, Financial Services Industry Marketing
June 7, 2022


We recently visited New York City for the Transform Finance FinCrime Festival to hear from financial leaders on the state of the anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) landscape. Appian’s very own Guy Mettrick, Financial Services Industry Manager, also had the opportunity to share his thoughts on ensuring compliance while keeping in mind the importance of a customer journey. Here are some of the takeaways we gleaned from the event in our conversations with those focused on KYC and AML in their day-to-day work.

Top challenges within the compliance landscape.

Challenge #1: Business and compliance functions struggle to meet shared goals. 

One of the most common themes we heard directly from financial leaders responsible for managing KYC and AML compliance within their organizations is the disconnect between their work and the business functions of the institution. Attendees shared that making sense of the copious amount of data and documentation required for KYC and AML inquiries is difficult and, due to complicated and inefficient processes, can stall business functions like customer onboarding. Representatives from banks and financial firms of all sizes shared this struggle.

Takeaway: Culture can be difficult to change, but technology
and structured processes help.

Challenge #2: International rules of engagement are vague.

Attendees from larger institutions with an international footprint resoundingly agreed that setting a repeatable practice that accounts for regional guidelines is a top pain point. Oftentimes, it’s a balancing act between teams who are able to “be the loudest at the table” rather than a process that’s repeatable and optimized. Many attendees mentioned they’d benefit from easily accessible records that indicate preferred regulations by region.

Takeaway: Guidelines vary and change often.
Having repeatable processes can help. 

Trends to keep your eye on.

Trend #1: Know your employees.

Remote work opens financial institutions to further risk. Because the cyber safeguards are variable in a home office environment, sensitive customer and financial firm data can be more easily accessible to bad actors. Without the ability to see staff in the office day to day, it can be easier for employees to fly under the radar while committing malicious acts against the firm. What’s more, many upper level executives are experiencing spear phishing, which targets their work and/or personal email accounts with malicious links in hope of gaining access to sensitive information.

Takeaway: Up your cybersecurity training and
procedures to minimize risk. 


Trend #2: Configurability is key.

A recurring theme we heard from attendees and hosts alike was the need for more configurability in KYC and AML technologies. Because each financial institution is different, configurability is essential to addressing the challenges mentioned above. Guy Mettrick, Industry Manager for Financial Services here at Appian, presented on this very topic at the event and outlined how current, rigid technology stacks at many financial organizations are the cause of frustrating roadblocks in workflows for KYC and AML compliance. Many attendees we spoke with were looking for something to give their businesses the flexibility they need to maintain compliance. 

Check out our recent blog that outlines the simplicity a KYC solution can bring to your operations.

Predictions for digital transformation in AML and KYC compliance.

Prediction #1: International knowledge sharing.

The event opened with words from Aaron Wolf, Managing Director of Anti-Financial Crime at Deutsche Bank, on what’s next for the financial crime landscape. One point that stood out to us was about the ability to more easily share information across national borders. As it stands today, it’s challenging to share financial crime information from country to country. Wolf predicts that, in the next five to ten years, those nations looking to work with others and share financial criminal information will see that come to fruition.

Prediction #2: Mature AI in AML/KYC technology.

Modern day KYC and AML solutions offer artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to streamline operations. Wolf predicts those technologies will grow to be more robust and impactful for financial services organizations. Along with these improvements, Wolf anticipates transaction monitoring will be available for financial institutions to more proactively address potential fraud and/or financial crime. 

The KYC and AML landscape is growing. 

Financial crime isn’t going anywhere, and financial institutions need to be armed with technology and internal processes that enable them to thwart as much of that crime as possible. If you find yourself looking for ways to improve your KYC and AML operations internally, take a look at our eBook, Powering Seamless KYC Operations with a Modern Low-Code Solution.