Senior Managing Director, EMEA Head of Data & Analytics, FTI Consulting
Financial crime isn’t isolating. Criminals — money launderers, terrorists, fraudsters — evolve apace or ahead of the institutions and individuals they exploit.
Global headlines, encompassing Panama to Moscow and due South, beg the question: “How can we keep up?”
How data experts can help combat financial crime
Nick Hourigan, Senior Managing Director and Head of Data & Analytics at FTI Consulting, is one of the people tasked with fighting this growing problem.
He says that, at the point a regulator is asking really probing questions of a financial institution, “harm has probably already occurred, most likely over the course of years.”
“If there is crime, it’s usually in layers and the extent is often broader than even the regulator’s awareness” While Hourigan always advises his clients to seek objective legal and strategic advice, he emphasises time and attention from senior leadership, compliance and systems owners is vital, but challenging to synchronise.
“These are hard problems that can have major reputational and financial impacts for organisations — but that isn’t always obvious at the outset.”
Grappling with vast data is essential to get to the truth. “I tell my teams,” he says, “you make the computer work for you; because you can bet the criminal did.”
The benefits of ubiquitous data
So, what challenges can be met using advanced analytics and process automation? “The response must draw upon a complete picture of events and parties,” says Hourigan. “One of the key benefits of advanced analytics and process automation is the ability to combine, analyse and review information sourced from very different business systems and processes.
“Historically, you may not have been able to identify that someone’s activity didn’t match up with how they present themselves, because the inconsistencies are scattered across different systems.”
FTI itself aims to combine advanced analytics, e-discovery services and financial crime expertise to fight the growing problem.
“FTI does not have many people who try to be all things,” explains Hourigan. “We have technical and topical experts engaged on a project and we are able to put together teams in which the decision-making process is led by some of the most experienced global experts in the fields of financial services, regulatory investigations and data and analytics.”
Tailored financial crime solutions for large and small businesses
The critical areas of development of advanced analytics and process automation to combat financial crime, depend on the size and profile of the institution, says Hourigan.
“Larger institutions will likely need to leverage data from across a greater range of geographies and services, each supported by many-layered operations. Smaller and ‘challenger’ institutions may have a simpler data and systems landscape but less established operational and compliance support.
“Across the spectrum, there are powerful techniques such as network analytics that can be tailored to compliment traditional investigation techniques and provide a comprehensive, sophisticated and robust response to financial crime.”
In essence, to continue to meet and prevent the threat of financial crime, financial institutions need to rapidly combine, evaluate and make decisions on any data that may indicate criminal activity.
Across all those incumbent, advanced analytics and process automation are essential tools to get the right data to the right person at the right time.