In brief

In brief

  • Intelligent automation and advanced analytics might be game-changers for financial services providers working to prevent financial crime.
  • Areas such as Know Your Customer, Sanctions and Transaction Monitoring can all benefit from more efficient Financial Crime Compliance strategy.
  • An enabled Financial Crime Compliance strategy can deliver big operational savings, provided challenges are anticipated and resolved.


Financial firms know the struggle they face against financial crime. Accenture’s report indicates financial services providers spent a collective $110 billion1 in their efforts to combat anti-money laundering (AML) and comply with AML requirements.

How can providers be certain their extensive AML investments are wise?

Financial services providers spent a collective $110 billion in their efforts to combat anti-money laundering.

Building a financial crime compliance approach that leverages new age technologies—including artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive automation—is one way to improve investment in crime fighting.

One global institution deployed Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and other intelligent automation to revamp its KYC function. Among its gains was an 80 percent drop in commercial client onboarding time. Another global bank achieved a 20 percent drop in alert volumes with no change to its risk appetite.2

How can intelligent automation make a difference?

A financial crime compliance approach that taps intelligent automation can reap the benefits of smart technologies, such as higher quality investigations, fewer false positives, lower operating costs and higher efficiency overall. Accenture has seen multiple use cases in these areas:

  • KYC onboarding and refresh
  • Sanctions and Transaction Monitoring detection
  • Sanctions and Transaction Monitoring investigation

Know your customer

Beginning with KYC, what can financial providers gain from an intelligently automated financial crime compliance? The right technology can build efficiencies into every step of the KYC process, from customer onboarding to due diligence.

Here’s a closer look at how intelligent automation can enhance the KYC function:

Customer onboarding

Integrating Customer Relationship Management and Customer Lifecycle Management creates operational efficiencies by streamlining KYC case creation.

Customer risk rating analysis

NLP helps teams identify the screening entity; coreference resolution confirms the entity is properly referenced. Semantic role labeling tags suspects.

ML to detect suspicious activity

Intelligent automation helps identify emerging money laundering patterns, offering a better view of what is a suspicious activity and what is not.

Auto-closure and alert hibernation

Some low and medium risk alerts can be auto closed or hibernated. If a customer’s activity triggers an alert, it can be re-categorized as high risk.

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Efficient alert investigations

Traditional alert investigation/transaction monitoring involves an initial review to discount false positive alerts. As needed, this is followed by a detailed review of the customer, with the case referred for additional review if a Suspicious Activity Report is filed with the regulator.

Once again, automation can help, in these ways:

  • Straight-through data processing for case creation: This approach can simplify data capture for case creation. The data gathered can be categorized and presented in a visual format (for example, by identifying outlier transactions) and in an automated manner to aid the investigation process.
  • Media screening: NLP techniques such as named entity recognition, coreference resolution, relationship extraction and semantic role labeling can identify alerted entity and tag suspects. This approach along with intelligent tools and systems can identify patterns that are new and fed this information into the models, helping investigators make better decisions.
  • ML for decision making: While final decisions involve human judgment, ML algorithms can review triggered activity to automate aspects of the decision-making process, by building statistical models that incorporate gathered data and calculate the likelihood of disposition of the alerted transactions, either for closure or escalation.
  • Natural Language Generation (NLG) for narrative generation: For non-reported transactions (most transactions) NLG can generate a case narrative by translating data into case summary. This is one of the most challenging aspect in the entire investigation process; it is critical for financial institutions to focus on segments of alerts that can be effectively processed through NLG.

Getting it "right"

Several challenges might arise when implementing an intelligently automated financial crime compliance. These include addressing regulatory expectations, dealing with legacy systems, and designing an effective policy and governance approach.

We can help address those concerns. Accenture has relationships with numerous vendors who offer expertise and knowledge across the entire AML landscape, including lifecycle management, workflow management, data enrichment, threat identification, entity resolution and visualization of reports using dashboards.

We integrate these capabilities with our in-house tools and services to offer a solution aligned to each financial services provider’s needs. Learn how Accenture can help you automate your financial crime compliance for significant efficiency gains.

1 “Uncover the True Cost of Anti-Money Laundering & KYC Compliance,” LexisNexis, 2016. Access at: https://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/intl/en/resources/research/true-cost-of-aml-compliance-apac-survey-report.pdf. “The True Cost of Anti-Money Laundering Compliance – European Edition,” LexisNexis, September 2017, Access at: https://risk.lexisnexis.com/global/-/media/files/corporations%20and%20non%20profits/research/true%20cost%20of%20aml%
20compliance%20europe%20survey%20report%20.pdf.pdf
. “Anti-money laundering compliance costs U.S. financial services firms $25.3 billion per year, according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions,” LexisNexis, October 10, 2018. Access at: https://risk.lexisnexis.com/about-us/press-room/press-release/20181010-true-cost-aml.

2 “Standard Chartered teams up with Instabase to automate and optimize client onboarding,” FinanceFeeds. November 7, 2018. Access at: https://financefeeds.com/standard-chartered-teams-instabase-automate-optimise-client-onboarding/. “Anti-Money Laundering and AI at HSBC,” Ayasdi, June 1, 2017. Access at: https://www.ayasdi.com/blog/financial-services/anti-moneylaunderinghsbc/.

About the Authors

Philippe Guiral

Managing Director – Finance & Risk, Financial Crime Lead, North America


Heather Adams

Managing Director – Finance & Risk, Cyber Resilience and Risk Lead, UK and Ireland


Bharat Mittal

Managing Director – Finance & R​​isk


Nirmal Khachane

Senior Manager – Finance & Risk

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