Anti-Money Laundering

Can AML technology help minimise burnout for accountants?

More than nine in ten accountants have seen stress levels soar during the pandemic

The past 18 months have been unlike any other, and while there has been a huge focus on the wellbeing of those in key worker roles and those who have been furloughed, or lost their jobs, there is another sector that has been put under immense pressure over the past year or so - accountants.

A survey by found that, during the first peak, almost half of accountants rated their mental health as bad or worse, while nine in ten said their stress levels have been higher than normal since the pandemic started.

And while most people can cope with a bit of stress at work - many even perform better under pressure - for others, it can be overwhelming, and start to have a negative impact. Of those surveyed, 40% said they had experienced anxiety or depression for the first time as a result of the pandemic, while seven in ten said they had felt ‘unable to cope’ with the added stress it has brought.

So why have accountants been hit so hard?  Well, there are a number of factors at play, firstly - longer hours. For many, working from home has meant they never actually ‘go home’ at all, with many feeling pressured to work when they’d usually be commuting, failing to take proper breaks, and still answering emails well beyond normal working hours. A recent survey by LifeSearch found that a third of people have worked more hours since the pandemic started and 31% have found working from home more stressful than being in the office.

And while working longer hours is not specific to accountants, the added pressure of stayingon top of the latest guidance was something only really felt by accountants and businesses advisers.

Could technology help ease the pressure?

During the first lockdown, the chancellor was announcing new rules, regulations, incentives, loans and grants every week - the furlough scheme being the most significant of those support packages.

Accountants were not only expected to be ‘on it’ every time an announcement was made, but analyse it, work out what it meant for each and every client, and then help those clients - many of whose business’ very survival was hanging in the balance - understand what they needed to do.

And while the flood of furlough claims and grants has slowed down, and, thanks to an easing of lockdown restrictions, the immediate danger to clients’ businesses has levelled out, accountants are not out of the woods yet.

“Many accountants have been struggling against the uphill battle of never-ending grants, furlough claims, and clients in despair during the treadmill of services caused by coronavirus,” Lianne Weaver, MD at Beam Development and training told this month. “The return to the office has created another level of stress for the profession. with many even considering throwing in the towel after such an exhausting 12 months with one accountant recently saying “Is it just me or has anyone else had enough? I don't know how much longer I can cope.”

Another issue that reared its ugly head during the pandemic, and is continuing to add to the stress for many accountants now, is compliance. As a regulated business, accountants are required, by law, to run anti-money laundering checks on all their clients or face serious consequences. This pressure on accountancy firms, when they are already coping with so much, could be enough to tip them over the edge, as John Dobson, CEO at anti-money laundering experts SmartSearch explains.

“Running AML checks on all clients can be a really cumbersome process, with the added stress that if you get it wrong, you could face fines and even prison. Most accountants still run these processes manually, which is not only time consuming, and often inaccurate, but has been almost impossible to do properly with social distancing rules in place.”

John says that now, as we move into a hybrid office and home working environment, is the perfect time for those accountants that are still relying on manual AML checks to look at how technology can help save them time, money and stress.

“Accounting technology has always played a large part in making an accountant’s job just a little easier, and thanks to cloud-based accounting and tax software, accountants are able to automate a lot of their task-orientated projects, which is quicker, easier and more accurate, allowing them to spend more time on skill and advice-based work.

“So why are so many still relying on manual verification processes? Thanks to electronic verification platforms, accountants do not need to waste time and energy manually running due diligence on their clients - it can be automated.”

SmartSearch is a cloud-based platform that can offer accountants a quick and easy way to meet their AML obligations.  

Simply by entering the client’s details into the system - or scanning their photo ID - SmartSearch runs an ID and verification check and screens against global watchlists, automatically running enhanced due diligence if there are any matches. Every search result is hosted on the platform and checked every night to ensure water-tight record-keeping and compliance.

Checks can be run remotely - via a handheld device - meaning the system can be used anywhere, anytime, with results in a matter of seconds.

John concludes: “accountants are under enough pressure at the moment, without the added stress of ensuring they are meeting their AML obligations. Technology is already helping accountants increase efficiency in so many other areas, why not let technology take care of AML compliance too?”

Just a few areas we can help you with:

A centralised solution

Our platform completes AML and KYC checks all in one place – and can even integrate with your existing system – streamlining your AML procedures and enabling you to verify your entire client base through one user-friendly interface.

Know your customer (KYC)

Electronically verify your customers and meet your due diligence obligations with the help of our automated facility for PEP and Sanction warning alerts.

Conduct your due diligence

Through our due diligence dashboard we ensure identification, verification and ongoing monitoring are completed on all your customers ensuring you can remain fully AML compliant at all times.

Manage monitoring

Our daily monitoring service takes updates from the world’s most accurate and up-to-date PEP and Sanctions list in the world so we can alert you if any of your client’s statuses change.

Get the help you need

Our unique verification platform offers the only KYC solution that also provides full Sanction and PEP screening and ongoing monitoring. All checks are automatically saved into the system to ensure watertight record-keeping meaning you can use just one piece of technology for all your AML and compliance needs. 

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That’s where we come in

SmartSearch offers a one-stop-shop for all your firm’s AML requirements. The user-friendly system enables staff at any level to successfully run AML checks, and we are constantly updating and improving the platform to ensure it remains the leading AML solution on the market.

See it in action

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

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