Post-pandemic: Solutions to keep client onboarding running smoothly

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When the pandemic forced people to work from home, predictions were that productivity would fall and financial institutions would be desperate to get staff back at their desks as soon as possible.

But that didn’t happen, in fact, some are so keen to take advantage of the success ‘working from home’ has been that they’re already letting office space go.

HSBC recently announced plans to cut office space by 20% by the end of the year while, and JPMorgan Chase, recently stated that the trend for remote working will “significantly reduce our need for real estate” saying that for every 100 employees the bank may now only need seats for 60 on average.

And it is not just employers that are pushing for hybrid working to become the norm.

According to a recent survey by the World Economic Forum, two-thirds of US citizens want to work flexibly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over and almost a third would be prepared to quit their job if their boss made them go back to the office full time.

And while a more flexible set up may be the preferred option for financial institutions and their staff alike, there are practical issues to consider when it comes to switching to a remote working environment permanently.

For example, to onboard new customers, financial institutions are required to run robust customer due diligence including identification, verification and screening for OFAC sanctions and PEPs to ensure they are meeting their BSA/AML obligations. They are also required to keep a secure record of these checks and monitor them regularly for any changes.

However, due to the manual ID checks many US financial institutions still rely on, and office-based legacy systems that process the results, running and recording these checks remotely is not always possible. This puts them in a very difficult position - force staff to come into the office simply to onboard customers, or risk non-compliance?

Fortunately, this is a choice that financial institutions do not have to make. Online Customer Identification Programs offer a secure way of onboarding clients remotely, enabling financial institutions to verify new clients, screen for OFAC and PEPs and monitor all checks on an ongoing basis, even in a hybrid working environment.

These platforms secure use cloud-based technology to enable staff to access the systems they need to check customers from home, either via their desktop, cell phone or tablet.

Some also use advanced facial recognition technology for an additional level of accuracy, which is particularly important when working in a remote environment, as John Dobson, CEO at AML experts SmartSearch explains:

“Our TripleCheck solution runs compliance checks on three levels to ensure no stone is left unturned. By combining our award-winning AML checks, with the latest facial recognition techniques and digital fraud checks, we have created a robust and reliable three-level AML Digital Identity solution that can not only replace a financial institution’s entire Customer Identification Programme (CIP) but can also be accessed remotely.

“It uses OCR and biometrics to perform an algorithmic check on photo identity documents and then uses liveness detection, via a customer selfie liveness video, to compare the ‘real person’ with the document provided for an extra level of verification. We then combine the initial check and the facial recognition result with information such as cell numbers, email addresses and IP addresses to deliver a risk score allowing users to investigate the individual further if a high risk has been identified.”

John says that SmartSearch is always looking for ways to improve its service, and when TripleCheck was first launched, it was just part of the firm’s ongoing development, but that as the events of the last 18 months have unfolded, it has proved to be an absolutely vital solution for financial institutions as they grapple with working in a remote environment.

 “This highly advanced piece of technology makes customer verification quicker, easier and more reliable than ever, giving all our clients peace of mind that they’re meeting all their BSA/AML requirements.

 “But more important than that, it can be accessed anytime, anywhere – from your desktop, cell phone or tablet, from home, from the office or with a client - with results delivered in seconds.

 “As we start to move into a new normal, it is clear that we will not be returning to the office-based culture we had before. Many people are going to be working remotely on a permanent basis, which means they are going to need an AML platform that is flexible and secure enough to work effectively from anywhere.

 “TripleCheck offers that solution. It can replace your entire CIP, running checks, monitoring clients, and ensuring you remain compliant, allowing you to concentrate on navigating this new post-pandemic world."

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