C-suite compliance crisis: 49% Only Moderately Confident in Anti-Money Laundering Processes

Nearly half (49%) of C-suite executives only have moderate confidence in their company's anti-money laundering (AML) processes, as revealed by a recent survey conducted by First AML, an anti-money laundering scaleup.

The survey, which involved 250 C-suite executives, aimed to assess how anti-money laundering is prioritised and implemented within UK businesses. It highlighted that almost all (99%) participants are concerned about their company’s capability to comply with emerging anti-money laundering regulations. Seventy-nine percent are worried about the financial implications of non-compliance for their organisation, with 28% being extremely concerned.

Despite the evident concerns about non-compliance, it is alarming that 39% of the executives admitted to reducing their anti-money laundering budgets in 2024 compared to 2023.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that 75% of the respondents believe that C-suite executives should bear personal responsibility for ensuring compliance, with 32% strongly agreeing with this stance.

Bion Behdin, co-founder and CRO at First AML, commented: “The c-suite is worried about compliance, so it’s time to put their money where their mouth is. In fact, when asked whether a strong commitment to compliance impacts the company or firm's reputation in the market, 67% feel it brings a positive impact, and 22% feel it brings a significant positive impact. Given they can see the benefits of compliance, 2024 should be the year that the c-suite prioritises anti-money laundering in their organisations.”

Looking to 2024, almost all (99%) of those surveyed have plans to change anti-money laundering processes in 2024. This includes more investment in tech (47%), more investment in people (44%) and more investment in training (42%). However, with budgets tightening, organisations will need to do more with less.

When comparing these stats with a survey First AML conducted back in September 2022, 73% of financial services companies were moving anti-money laundering up the company agenda. Yet, 23% of those surveyed were also considering cutting budgets. With both AML confidence and budgets shrinking, there seems to be a similar outlook in 2024.

When it comes to discussing AML in their organisation, the majority of c-suite currently discuss anti-money laundering strategies, risks, and processes during board or senior level meetings quarterly (44%), with 31% discussing it bi-annually or less frequently.

On top of this, the majority (49%) receive reports, or have meetings, with their MLRO or compliance officers about compliance quarterly, with 23% only receiving them bi-annually.

“Although it’s positive that AML is being discussed at board level, it’s crucial that these touchpoints are as detailed and frequent as possible,” Behdin continued. “C-suite executives are spinning a lot of plates, and having a clear overview of their company’s AML landscape and response is integral to avoiding fines and reputational damage.”