finance aml compliance

AML Compliance for Financial Organisations

AML for financial organisations doesn’t have to be complicated. Our end-to-end AML solution consistently evolves to meet the ever-changing regulations set out by the FATF, so there’ll never be gaps in your compliance.

Helping financial firms get KYC and AML compliance right

Firms in financial services provide a wide range of products to their clients, so they’re left vulnerable to money laundering in a multitude of different ways – this often makes AML compliance measures complex to implement.    

SmartSearch offers an award-winning platform, with an electronic customer verification system that can gather quick and accurate results. We’ve put sanction checks, PEP screening and ongoing monitoring in one accessible place, making AML in financial services simple and reliable.

Just a few areas we can help you with

Verify your customer

Identifying and verifying customers and taking all the steps you need to remain compliant takes just seconds with our platform. Use our platform to complete your kyc aml checks within your financial institution.

Customer onboarding

Streamline customer onboarding and enhance your client experience with our award-winning platform that negates time-consuming traditional verification methods and minimizes cost and resource for your business.

Do your due diligence

Automate the bulk of your enhanced due diligence using our unique system to automatically discount any false positives, ensuring you remain compliant with minimal effort.

Monitor your clients

Powered by Dow Jones, our ongoing monitoring feature reviews PEP and Sanction watchlists globally, alerting you to any status changes and keeping you compliant at all times.

Prevent Fraud

We offer a wide range of anti-fraud products and services that can be tailored to your firm’s specific requirements.

Be audit ready

Get aml in finance audit ready by using our batch upload feature, ongoing monitoring and automated audit notes, you can be confident that your processes are watertight, and your business is always be audit-ready.

SmartSearch Saves Time and Money

Manually performing the different checks required for AML compliance is a time-consuming process that’s liable to human error. Our unique software carries out automated digital checks in minutes using the Dow Jones WatchList, which combines reliable data from sources all over the world.

We simplify the KYC process for AML in finance, verifying your clients in both the UK and overseas, so you can get on with what you do best. Get a personalised quote for your financial institution today, and find out how much you could save.


What kind of financial organisations do we work with?

Building (Retail/Commercial)
Building Societies
Asset Finance
Invoice Discounting
Private Equity
Pre-paid Cards
Foreign Exchange
Debt Funding

40% of the top 100 IFAs use our services

{{ image_alt:bce-2x.png }}
The service is robust – we have experienced little or no downtime and communication from SmartSearch is excellent with updates, credit alerts and monthly reports detailing usage. Rita Hens Customer Services Manager
Read case study
{{ image_alt:coop-2x.png }}
In a constantly changing anti-money laundering compliance landscape it is fantastic to have SmartSearch’s expertise on hand. Linda Barlow Co-operative Governance Advisor
Read case study

You’re in good company

See it in action

Let one of our highly-trained sales team demonstrate the multi-award winning SmartSearch AML product

Get a free demo

What is AML and why is it important to financial services? 

Money laundering is thought to be posing an increasing threat to the national security, national prosperity, and international reputation of the UK. This, in turn, underlines the importance of banks and financial institutions putting in place effective, efficient, and durable AML KYC arrangements. 

To this end, extensive anti-money laundering regulations have been put in place, with which providers of financial services in the UK must comply. 

Discover how you can produce a detailed and effective AML report in just minutes. 

Today, financial institutions are able to save both time and money, while still achieving reliable regulatory compliance for AML. SmartSearch enables you to quickly carry out thorough AML checks and generate informative and accurate reports. 

Check an entire company structure within a few clicks

Comprehensive AML business checks can be performed, drawing upon the best international data, and much more rapidly than if you were to depend on manual processes. We offer an easy-to-use interface as part of our all-in-one compliance solution for AML and KYC. 

Access global data within minutes

Make the most of the information available through our global data partners, to help ensure nothing has been left untouched in your efforts to minimise money-laundering fraud risk. 

For a wealth of efficient functionality and greater access to vital data than the alternatives, choose SmartSearch. With our help, you can check individuals and businesses across more than 200 countries. 

Remove the costs and time associated with manual compliance checks

In order for your financial institution to be competitive in its field while still attaining regulatory compliance time and time again, it must develop quicker and more cost-effective methods for carrying out essential AML and KYC process steps. Or you could simply turn to our automated platform, which can undertake full checks in seconds

Powerful facial recognition technology ensures accurate document identification

The verification of crucial documents is made easier by SmartSearch’s use of the latest OCR and biometric facial recognition techniques. It’s all possible with a photo ID and a Selfie Liveness Video (SLV), with the outcome being a true picture of your customer, and the confidence of knowing any given document and image is genuine. 

What are the UK’s current anti-money laundering regulations? 

The current anti-money laundering regime requirements in the UK are outlined in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), the Terrorism Act 2000, and the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017. 

The UK is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and accordingly, the country’s AML legislation meets FATF’s global standards. 

Here are the essentials of the regulations applicable to organisations in the UK that are striving to achieve a compliant AML and KYC process: 

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

This Act (POCA) constitutes the UK’s main anti-money laundering regulation and defines the offences that amount to money laundering. Those activities encompass the perpetration and facilitation of money laundering, as well as the acquisition and distribution of its criminal proceeds. 

POCA sets out a requirement for banks and financial institutions to put in place appropriate AML fraud checks to help prevent money laundering activities. Such controls include customer due diligence and transaction monitoring measures, alongside various reporting requirements. 

Under POCA, a person can commit a money laundering offence if they: 

Conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property, or remove property from England or Wales, or from Scotland or from Northern Ireland (section 327); or 
Enter into or become concerned in an arrangement which they know or suspect facilitates (by whatever means) the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property by, or on behalf of someone else (section 328); or 
Acquire, use, or have possession of criminal property, except where adequate consideration was given for the property (section 329). 

As well as the money laundering offences, POCA covers additional offences only applicable to the regulated sector (in other words, those subject to MLR 2017). These offences relate to the knowledge or suspicion of money laundering (section 330) and the ‘tipping off’ offence (section 333).

digital concept

The Terrorism Act 

This legislation, too, imposes customer due diligence, transaction monitoring and reporting obligations on banks, to guard against the risk of terrorism financing. 

This law was first put in place in 2000 but has since been amended by the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Terrorism Act 2006, and the Terrorism Act 2000 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Amendment) Regulations 2007. 

The Money Laundering Regulations 2017 

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017) took effect on 26th June 2017. These regulations were aimed at ensuring the UK’s AML regime implemented the EU Fourth Money Laundering Directive, and are in line with the standards and recommendations of FATF. 

After POCA and the Terrorism Act, these regulations can be considered the next most important legislation for AML and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT) in the UK. They introduced a need for organisations to implement a written AML/CFT risk assessment. 

The Money Laundering Regulations 2019 

Implementing the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive in the UK, the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force on 10th January 2020. 

MLR 2019 made some limited, but important amendments to the existing MLR 2017. The scope of the regulated sector was extended, and changes were made to customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence. 

In particular, there was a new requirement to make reports to Companies House in the event of discrepancies between information collected during customer due diligence, and information on the Persons with Significant Control register. 

How can your financial institution comply with MLR 2017 and 2019?

There are a number of steps that a UK financial services provider should take to ensure compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and 2019. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

Ensuring the firm has written policies, controls, and procedures to mitigate the AML fraud risk
Making sure those policies, controls, and procedures cover risk management practices, internal controls, customer due diligence, reliance and record keeping, and the monitoring and management of compliance
Communicating the policies, controls, and procedures to staff
Providing up-to-date staff training on the organisation’s policies and procedures, and how to report suspicious activity
Keeping AML records for at least five years after a business relationship with a client ends
Ensuring the firm is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office under the Data Protection legislation
Carrying out a risk assessment on itself in relation to money laundering or terrorist financing risks
Putting procedures in place to check a client’s identity and business activities, in order to mitigate the risk of money laundering activity
Carrying out enhanced due diligence on higher-risk customers
Ensuring the firm has reviewed and updated its AML policies, procedures, and controls in the last 12 months.

Complying with the UK Government’s requirements isn’t merely an important aspect of AML for financial institutions because of the need to avoid penalties or reputational damage. That’s because money laundering poses a serious risk to the UK in general, including in relation to national security and its credentials as a place to do business. 

Moreover, it appears that the scale of AML fraud risk is growing – thereby further underlining the importance of embracing the right KYC services and tools: 

Research has found that the UK ranks second among global money laundering hotspots
An estimated £88 billion is laundered every year in the UK 
The total amount of money laundered around the world annually is estimated to be about 3% of global GDP, or £1.8 trillion 
The UK Government’s National risk assessment for 2020 stated that while “it remains difficult to quantify the scale of the money laundering threat to the UK… it is likely there has been an increase in the amount of money being laundered since 2017.” 

With the help of SmartSearch, you can not only truly know your customer in your position as a financial services provider, but also undertake the vital KYC AML checks quickly, securely, and accurately. 

We offer a complete single platform for achieving AML compliance, with multiple features for all aspects of due diligence and KYC. Contact us now for a free demo of our time-saving and cost-saving platform. 

What does an AML compliance program require? 

The task of achieving consistent AML compliance for your financial services organisation might seem intimidating. But as technology continues to advance, comprehensive and automatised solutions – such as SmartSearch – are emerging to help you carry out the full suite of vital KYC checks within minutes. 

When futureproofing your financial institutions AML and KYC processes, it is essential that your program should encompass the following:

Identity verification 

As a bank or other financial services organisation, you should know your customer, and we really do mean know your customer. It is no longer enough to simply trust that the person you are dealing with is who they say they are. 

To that end, you should be collecting a range of information to help provide proof of identity. Such details will need to include the client’s full name, proof of address (residential and mailing), signature, place and date of birth. 

A vital element of your institution’s customer identity verification process will be a check to make sure the individual does not appear on any Politically Exposed Person or PEP lists. 

If your client does turn out to be a PEP – defined as someone who has been appointed by an international body or state or a community organisation in the last 12 months – you will need to apply particular scrutiny to them to guard against the potential risk of corruption and bribery.

Watchlist Screening 

Does your institution’s current AML and KYC process rapidly and accurately verify that your customer is not on any watchlists? 

If not, now could be a time to enquire about SmartSearch. Our platform’s screening functionality also enables you to ensure that your institution doesn’t do business with an individual, organisation, or country that appears in international sanctions lists. 

Transaction monitoring 

The monitoring of customer transactions for indicators of suspicious activity will be central to your financial institution’s efforts to achieve regulatory compliance, as well as evaluating the risk profile of every client. 

The right transaction monitoring solution – such as the SmartSearch platform – will be able to detect unusual transaction patterns, as well as any transactions in high-risk jurisdictions, or in which PEPs or sanctioned individuals are involved. It should all be part of your organisation’s comprehensive customer due diligence approach. 

Case management and reporting 

Case management and reporting requirements can be a burden for many financial institutions that need to carry out KYC AML checks. The automated nature of the SmartSearch platform’s suspicious activity reporting helps relieve this burden. 

Indeed, every AML check that you perform with SmartSearch can generate a detailed report on the given individual, so that you are informed on everything you need to know about your customer. This will enable you to complete investigations and resolve or close cases so much sooner than would be possible if you depended on traditional manual processes. 

The importance of anti-money laundering for financial institutions 

The risk of illicit funds being allowed into the UK and global financial system must be treated with the utmost seriousness. 

It is why extensive anti-money laundering regulations have been put in place over the years, and which financial institutions such as banks, building societies, and asset finance providers are legally compelled to follow. 

With the aim of money laundering schemes being to conceal the source of funds contained through criminal activity – such as drug trafficking and terrorism – it is crucial that as a financial services organisation, you truly know your client. 

But in order to know your client, you will need to be able to undertake the broad range of advanced KYC AML checks that are required in today’s evolving threat landscape. Furthermore, you will need to be able to do so both efficiently and accurately, given the significant accumulative time and cost incurred by institutions that depend on manual checks alone. 

  • How does money laundering occur in banking? 

    Money laundering is the practice of making “dirty” – in other words, illegally obtained – money seems “clean”, or legal. Introducing such illicit funds into the legitimate banking system enables criminals to hide the true source of the money. 

    With money obtained through suspicious activity often being moved through a variety of financial services organisations such as banks and insurance companies, and even snook into different countries to further evade scrutiny, it isn’t always straightforward to detect whether certain funds might, in fact, have been gained as a result of criminality. 

    When criminals are successful in laundering money in these ways, they can often then simply withdraw the money from legitimate accounts, and use it for such purposes as organised crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism financing. 

  • Why is it crucial for banks to have an effective AML KYC process? 

    With banks being among the biggest organisations in the entire financial services industry, handling millions of transactions every day, such institutions can undoubtedly be a major target for criminal activity. 

    Money laundering activities frequently take place through banks and other financial services providers, so banks need to be well-prepared, informed, and vigilant in order to identify and guard against the AML fraud risk. 

    Banks don’t merely require effective and proven AML and KYC process steps in order to protect the UK and global financial system as a whole; failing to put in place measures like identity verification, watchlist screening, and transaction monitoring can leave them in breach of anti-money laundering regulations. This, in turn, could lead to serious financial and reputational damage. 

    It is also important to acknowledge the major technological advancements that have occurred in financial infrastructure in recent years. We are now in a world in which online payments are the day-to-day norm, which calls for more stringent measures to protect customer identity. 

    With its automated platform that allows for vital customer checks to be performed in seconds, SmartSearch takes its place among the most sophisticated compliance solutions available to financial institutions in the 2020s. 

    SmartSearch is the only AML platform that is able to verify individuals and corporate clients not just in the UK, but across the globe – and you won’t find such depth and breadth of KYC banking functionality from any other provider. 

    Enquire to our team today to experience a free demo of our product, and to have your bespoke subscription assembled by us. 

Simplify your financial firm’s AML procedures with our award-winning platform

Your financial services organisation is just a few steps away from modernising and automating its AML and KYC process with the help of our highly advanced all-in-one electronic compliance solution. 

Get in touch now with SmartSearch to request a free demo, and to get set up with your dedicated account manager. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do financial institutions detect money laundering?

    There are three stages in the money laundering process, but it is most easy for banks to detect during the first stage, which is placement. During the placement stage, cash is broken up into smaller amounts, and moved around in an attempt to put distance between the money and its illegal origins. Some launderers may make deposits in shell bank accounts at this point – and these can be easy for financial institutions to spot, if they appear in a large lump sum or a suspicious number of smaller deposits. Shell bank accounts are also used in the second stage of money laundering – layering – where the money is passed through multiple transactions and movements to “wash” it, but this is often harder to detect.

  • How can financial institutions prevent money laundering?

    Financial institutions in the UK can prevent money laundering by following the AML regulations from the FATF, and meeting the guidelines from the FCA. That means implementing a risk-based approach, with an extensive screening process including KYC, PEP and sanctions checks, as well as ongoing monitoring and Enhanced Due Diligence on any matches. KYC checks specifically can be used to prevent the creation of shell accounts by those who have a history of financial crime, as they enable you to verify the identity and reputation of your clients and customers, before you enter into business with them.