If your staff are working flexibly, your AML procedures need to be flexible too

Following the pandemic, businesses across the UK are rethinking their working set up, with many looking to reduce office space to cut down real estate expenses.

HSBC recently announced plans to cut office space by 20% by the end of the year to take advantage of the ‘working from home’ trend, while Deloitte UK has already closed four offices as a result of remote working.

And it is not just businesses themselves that are pushing for ‘working from home’ to become a permanent feature - research shows that ‘hybrid’ working - where the working week is split between the office and home - is most people’s ideal set up*. And it could even become a legal requirement for employers to allow staff to work from home, following proposals for a legal change that would prevent employers from forcing staff to come into the office unless they can prove it is essential.

So, it sounds like 100% office-based working might be a thing of the past, but for regulated businesses - such as estate agents, accountants, financial services and legal firms - switching to a more home-based set up is not quite as straightforward, as many of their AML compliance practices rely on office-based procedures and can’t simply be ‘done from home’.

Most regulated businesses still rely on manual AML processes -i.e. checking physical IDs, making copies of those in the office - and often manual record keeping systems too, while others use internal CRMs that cannot be accessed securely from outside the office.

For these companies, it is difficult, if not impossible, for staff working from home to run the proper checks needed to onboard a new customer, meaning they - and the client -  either have to come into the office to run the checks, or worse, the checks are not being run properly.

This is a huge issue, but luckily, one that can easily be rectified. Online AML platforms can offer a quick, easy and secure way for regulated businesses to not only run full AML checks remotely, but also, to ensure all record keeping is up to date and fully compliant.

SmartSearch is a cloud-based AML customer due diligence platform, which can be used independently, or integrated with a firm’s existing CRM while the fully integrated app means that the same functionality is available remotely, via phone or tablet, with all data feeding into the one central database.

This means that any search completed by staff members will be uploaded and hosted on the platform and monitored every night for changes.

And the checks themselves are easy too - all the user needs to do is enter the client’s details - or scan their ID using their phone or tablet’s camera - and SmartSearch will run a full AML check with screening for PEPs and sanctions. The results are received in a matter of seconds, meaning no matter what time they are working, whether they are in the office, working from home, or out with a client, all staff can onboard new customers quickly, easily and securely.

From legal and financial firms, to estate agents and accountants, businesses all over the UK looking to adjust their working practices to enable staff to work from home when they want to, it is absolutely imperative that they have an AML system that can keep pace.

With SmartSearch, not only is it possible to run AML checks remotely, but the checks are quicker, easier, more accurate and more secure than manual checks, saving regulated firms time and money while offering the flexibility they need in a hybrid working environment.

 *44% of people said they’re ideal working set up would be hybrid according to LifeSearch’s Health Wealth and Happiness report, compared to 36% who said 100% office based and 15% who said 100% home based.

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