Compliance Officers Discuss BSA/AML Challenges at Banking Roundtable

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As the threat of fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing continue to rise, financial services industry regulators are working hard to combat these evolving and complex threats.  Kaufman Rossin recently surveyed Florida bankers about how they are managing BSA/AML compliance in the current environment, and we invited several South Florida BSA/AML Compliance Officers to attend a roundtable discussion moderated by Tom Hudson, vice president of news and special correspondent for WLRN. What makes this survey unique is its focus on Florida, and particularly South Florida, which has banking issues unlike other regions of the country.

Banks are investing more resources in key areas such as hiring, training and information systems. One-third of survey respondents said they plan on adding staff to their bank’s BSA/AML/OFAC compliance department over the next 12 months, and 42% of banks who responded plan to increase overall spending related to AML compliance.

Compliance officers who attended the June 25th roundtable echoed the survey findings and also shared other BSA/AML concerns.  Attendees represented a wide range of financial institutions, including community banks and international banks. Some of the topics discussed included:

  • Talent acquisition and retention – Finding well-rounded BSA/AML compliance professionals in South Florida is getting tougher as banks continue to expand the size and comprehensiveness of their BSA/AML departments.
  • Staff training – Front-line personnel can be the first line of defense for banks, but they need proper training to be most effective at identifying potentially suspicious activity.  Account managers, loan officers and other sales personnel can play an integral role in the Know Your Customer process, and assist banks in recognizing potential AML risks. An ongoing training program may include regulatory requirements and information about the bank’s internal AML policies, procedures and processes and, to the extent possible, should be tailored to job-specific duties. For example, front-line personnel may learn what to look for (common red flags) and best practices for communicating with customers about sensitive issues.
  • Technology – Our survey showed that banks plan to make their largest AML compliance investments over the next 12 months in enhancements to their transaction monitoring systems. However, the large investment that usually accompanies AML systems can be a challenge for smaller banks.   Demonstrating ROI by reducing risk and leveraging BSA/AML compliance technology for business purposes is key to getting buy-in from bank leadership, said roundtable participants.
  • Data integrity – Like many companies in the age of big data, banks are struggling with data collection and analysis. Sometimes the issue is not that the data is inaccurate, but rather, that it is incomplete.  The survey results revealed that more banks are focusing on the integrity of their databases and information systems.

Managing AML compliance programs to address evolving and complex threats is a major challenge for financial institutions. If you have questions or need assistance with your bank’s BSA/AML compliance requirements, please contact us.

Download the 2014 Florida AML Compliance Survey Summary Report for Banks.


Ivan Garces, CPA, CFF, CFE, CAMS, is a Risk Advisory Services Principal- Chair Risk Advisory Services at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

Jason Chorlins, CPA, CFE, CAMS, CITP, is a Risk Advisory Services Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

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