Fee Earners Remain Unsold on the Value of AML Compliance

  • Compliance , AML and KYC , Risk Management
  • 11.08.2021 11:50 am
  • Time taken to collate relevant information and the level and quality of data available on clients are revealed as the biggest obstacles AML creates for solicitors
  • Better tech to streamline compliance processes paired with better education on what is expected of fee earners are both required to drive engagement

Fee earners undervaluing AML compliance processes has been revealed as the biggest challenge for compliance teams across the law sector, according to a recent poll conducted by Accuity, a LexisNexis® Risk Solutions company, and leading provider of financial crime compliance, payments and financial counterparty know your customer solutions.

The survey of over 300 UK law sector compliance professionals, conducted during a recent webinar in association with the Law Society, also revealed a ‘lack of sufficient compliance resource’ to be a problem for a quarter of firms when it comes to encouraging fee earners to put AML policy into practice.

When asked what fee earners cite as the major obstacles AML creates for them, ‘time taken to collate relevant information’ was the leading issue for over half (56%) of firms, with the ‘level and quality’ of available data on a client (15%) and creating friction in client relationships (15%) also being flagged as challenges.

A majority of respondents (45%) agreed tech-driven AML solutions would make the biggest difference in encouraging fee earners to engage more readily with AML processes. A better understanding of the critical nature of AML (20%) and clearer guidance on what is expected of them (23%) were also popular suggestions for encouraging better engagement.

Nina Kerkez, Director of UK&I Consulting at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions commented:

“This poll paints a somewhat concerning picture of AML compliance within the legal sector, suggesting controls designed to protect both business and customer are considered as hurdles, without fully appreciating their importance. The solution must be transforming the culture surrounding compliance, providing the right tools, knowledge and pushing the tone from the top, to ensure all practitioners understand its crititcal and strategic importance.

“The good news is that there’s widespread recognition that the right tools, in the form of tech-enabled AML solutions, can significantly cut the time taken to collate information by putting reliable data and intelligence about clients at fee earners’ fingertips . In the law sector in particular, time is money, so by reducing the time required on non-fee earning tasks like compliance, technology will not only allow practitioners to ensure they’re putting their firm’s AML policy into practice in the best possible way, but will also free up more time to focus on their revenue generating role.”

“With UK firms’ AML obligations expected to rise as a result of the UK leaving the EU and the cost burden of compliance processes continuing to rise, the legal sector must act now to ensure they have the appropriate AML tools in place to support their fee earners in carrying out appropriate AML checks and avoid turning down clients.”

1 Poll was conducted during a webinar entitled ‘How to meet your AML objectives’ in conjunction with The Law Society, UK and Accuity, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company on 15 July.

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