In brief

In brief

  • Our paper explores how financial crime controls, which are often siloed, can be integrated within more common operating models used by firms.
  • Integrating your financial crime controls can help make firms more resilient and help reduce the time for fraud case resolution by 15 to 30 percent.
  • Another benefit of integrating? An enriched client experience with projected reductions in the time needed for onboarding by 20 to 30 percent.


Financial crime is a global and very costly problem for financial institutions. Depending on estimates, the value of the crimes committed across the globe can range as follows:

  • AML-based crimes: $659 billion to $988 billion
  • Fraud-based crimes: $183+ billion
  • Cyber-based crimes: $400 billion to $2 trillion

The expenses associated with preventing financial crime and managing cyber risk can also be staggering—and not just in terms of money. Financial institutions can lose their clients’ trust, and can find their reputation in tatters.

Addressing money laundering, fraud and cyber risk means coordinating across all lines of defense in an integrated approach. Accenture’s report, Winning at the Point of Attack: Integrated Financial Crime Operations, gives guidance for building your crime fighting strategy and integrating your financial crime controls within your operating model, to keep one step ahead of financial criminals.

Criminals are often able to change their attack strategies faster than institutions can react.

We explore financial crime and its rapidly changing nature, offering insights for building an integrated crime-fighting approach and establishing strategic priorities. We believe institutions could boost efficiency as much as 30 percent and, in the bargain, improve both their own resilience and their clients’ experience.

Integrating your defenses

An integrated approach to financial crime and cyber risk management blends resilience, efficiency and client experience. While a resilient organization may sustain some fraud losses, those losses would not surpass a defined and established risk appetite. Likewise, an efficient organization continually shrinks the time needed to investigate and resolve breaches, in part by leveraging common capabilities across various functions and building a scalable risk management infrastructure.

Watch video on new tools to fight financial crime.

Accenture’s Adam Markson and Quantexa CEO discuss new tools to combat financial crime.

View Transcript

One of the main benefits of integrating your financial crime strategy and controls is an enriched client experience. With better integrated controls, for example, processes like client onboarding or fraud resolution can be slashed up to a third. Happier, more trusting clients could evolve into more loyal, long-term clients.

A successful integration strategy prioritizes good governance and defines an acceptable risk appetite. Also crucial is clearly defining, for leadership, the benefits of investing in an integrated approach to fighting financial crime.

Common challenges

Our paper outlines possible organizational structures and alignment a financial firm can consider for a more integrated approach to fighting financial crime. We’ve also done the legwork to identify the five most common challenges to building an integrated financial crime framework.

Organizational fragmentation

1. Organizational fragmentation

Some firms’ fraud, anti-money laundering (AML) and cyber domains are disconnected; knowledge is shared opportunistically rather than strategically.

Inconsistent execution

2. Inconsistent execution

When defense strategies aren’t executed evenly, results can include gaps in coverage, duplication of effort and misaligned resources.

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3. No holistic IT Architecture

Duplication or tactical (versus strategic) fixes can result when a holistic IT Architecture is not in place.

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4. Lack of common data and process taxonomy

A missing taxonomy can be the root cause of technology inefficiency and organizational fragmentation.

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5. Lack of dedicated career path

Financial crime prevention professionals turn over more rapidly when they don't have a career path, leaving gaps in the talent pool.

Guiding principles yield an integration blueprint for financial crime risk management

What’s the solution for these common concerns? Our report lists 12 guiding principles that, taken together, result in a blueprint for fighting financial crime. Integration is an essential element of this blueprint, resulting in a framework that retains the integrity of component risks while increasing opportunities for convergence in the first and second lines of defense.

Additionally, a holistic technical architecture can make it easier for new technologies to have a significant impact by extracting greater value and by boosting productivity. We recommend a layered approach, illustrated in our report by a use case based on transaction monitoring.

Integration, in and of itself, is not a new solution. We’ve identified a results-based approach to innovation that is more likely to succeed, and we’ve even outlined the pitfalls an organization might face when integrating its financial crime strategy and controls within their operating model.

Criminals are making it their full-time job to out innovate the financial services industry. For example, in the payments sector, and according to a 2016 Nilson Report, the industry could expect $31.3 billion in global card losses in 2018.

* Source: The Nilson Report, Issue 1096, Oct 2016

Are you ready to fight crime on an organization-wide, holistic basis? Read our report and identify your next steps.

About the Authors

Chris Thompson

Global Security & Resilience Lead – Financial Services


Jon Narveson

Managing Director – Finance & Risk, Financial Services


Ben Shorten

Senior Manager – Finance & Risk, Financial Services


Gregory Ross

Senior Manager – Finance & Risk, Financial Services

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