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Why Anti-Money Laundering Should Be a Top Priority for Financial Institutions

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anti-money laundering

Why AML Should be a Top Priority for Financial Institutions

The to-do list for any financial executive is surely daunting. From navigating technology changes to managing talent effectively, there’s many initiatives competing for attention.

One issue that’s been in the headlines for many years is anti-money laundering (AML). When criminals are able to successfully hide the illicit origins of their cash, both the financial institution and society suffer. So, what makes AML more important now than it has been in the past?

Rising up the Priority Ladder

Today’s infographic from McKinsey & Company explains the factors which have brought anti-money laundering urgently to the forefront in recent years.

1. Regulatory Action

Enforcement actions related to AML have been on the rise. Since 2009, regulators have levied approximately $32 billion in AML-related fines globally.

2. Threat Evolution
Criminals are using more sophisticated means to remain undetected, including globally-coordinated technology, insider information, and e-commerce schemes.

3. Reputational Risk

AML incidents put a financial institution’s reputation on the line. There’s a lot at stake: today, the average value of each of the top 10 bank brands is $45B.

4. Rising Costs

Most AML activities require significant manual effort, making them inefficient and difficult to scale. In 2018, it cost U.S. financial services firms about $25.3B to manage money laundering risk.

5. Poor Customer Experience

Compliance staff must have multiple touch points with a customer to gather and verify information. Perhaps not surprisingly, one in three financial institutions have lost potential customers due to inefficient or slow onboarding processes.

It’s no wonder anti-money laundering has now become a top priority for many CEOs in the financial industry.

A Wave of Innovation

In the last five years, there has been an explosion of “RegTech” startups—companies that address regulatory requirements using technology.

Global RegTech Investments, 2014-2018

YearAmount Invested (USD)
2014$923M
2015$1,110M
2016$1,150M
2017$1,868M
2018$4,485M

Over 60% of these are focused on solving Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML issues. What does this technology look like in practice?

Customer onboarding

A hypothetical U.S. retail firm, ABC Electronics, applies online to open an account at AML Innovators Bank. Their information is verified and screened using a fully automated process.

If they are determined to be a lower-risk client, they will be fast-tracked through the approval process with decisioning in six hours or less. For high-risk clients, decisioning occurs within about 72 hours.

Transaction Monitoring

ABC Electronics requests to send multiple international wire payments to various beneficiaries. Each transaction is automatically screened based on various factors:

  • A same name or subsidiary transfer carries the lowest risk
  • Transfers to a known, similar industry in a high-risk jurisdiction carry medium risk
  • Transfers to an unknown industry in a high-risk jurisdiction carry high risk

These transaction scores, combined with algorithms that track a client’s expected vs. actual transaction behavior, will update ABC Electronics’ risk rating in real time.

Management oversight

As risk updates occur, ABC Electronics’ rating is integrated into AML Innovator Bank’s overall portfolio risk.

Senior risk management teams will be able to view a heat map that highlights the highest risk areas of the business.

Structural Change, Big Gains

Just as financial crimes continue to evolve, so do AML schemes.

How can organizations stay ahead of the game? They can focus on actively managing risk, deliberately investing in technology and analytics, and prioritizing areas where RegTechs will have the highest near-term impact.

By investing in AML, financial institutions create competitive advantages:

  • Improved efficiency
  • Superior customer experience
  • Scalability
  • Readiness to adapt to new regulations
  • Reduced reputational risk
  • Ability to attract top talent

With such benefits on the table, one thing is clear: Anti-money laundering efforts are more important now than they have ever been.

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Money

Ranked: The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021

Black billionaires make up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. Who are they, and how have they built their wealth?

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Black billionaires

The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021

Black billionaires make up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. Who are the select few who made it into the ranks of the world’s richest people?

In this graphic, we used the Forbes real-time billionaire list to highlight the most financially successful Black people, and the source(s) of their wealth.

Black Billionaires, Ranked

The data is as of February 24, 2021, and includes bi/multi racial individuals with Black ancestry. Altogether, there are 15 Black billionaires with a combined wealth of $48.9 billion.

Here is the how the full list breaks down:

RankNameNet WorthCitizenshipSource
1Aliko Dangote$11.5BNigeriaCement, sugar
2Mike Adenuga$6.1BNigeriaTelecom, oil
3Robert F. Smith$5.2BUnited StatesPrivate equity
4Abdulsamad Rabiu$4.8BNigeriaCement, sugar
5David Steward$3.7BUnited StatesIT provider
6Patrice Motsepe$3.1BSouth AfricaMining
7Alexander Karp$3.0BUnited StatesSoftware firm
8Oprah Winfrey$2.6BUnited StatesTV shows
9Michael Jordan$1.6BUnited StatesCharlotte Hornets, endorsements
10Michael Lee-Chin$1.5BCanadaMutual funds
11Strive Masiyiwa$1.4BZimbabweTelecom
12Kanye West$1.3BUnited StatesMusic, sneakers
13Mohammed Ibrahim$1.1BUnited KingdomCommunications
14Shawn Carter (Jay-Z)$1.0BUnited StatesMusic, multiple
15Tyler Perry$1.0BUnited StatesMovies, television

Aliko Dangote is the richest Black billionaire, and has held the title since 2013. He owns 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer. The company’s stock price went up more than 30% over the last year. In addition, Dangote also has investments in salt and sugar manufacturing companies.

The fifth richest Black person, David Steward, owns the technology solutions provider World Wide Technology. Steward had decided he wanted to be part of the technological revolution and founded the company in 1990, before the first internet browser had even been created. The company has since grown to be the largest Black-owned business in America with over $13.4 billion in annual revenue and more than 7,000 employees.

Best known for his music career, Shawn Carter, more commonly known as Jay-Z, is number 14 on the list. However, the rapper’s wealth goes far beyond his music. Jay-Z has built a diversified business empire, including investments in a fine art collection, an entertainment company, a clothing line, and alcohol brands. He recently sold half of his champagne brand to LVMH, the parent company of Dom Pérignon.

Unequal Representation

Unfortunately, little progress has been made with regards to the proportion of Black billionaires. Since 2011, Black billionaires have made up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide.

Black billionaires

In absolute numbers, the total number of billionaires rose by over 1,100 while the number of Black billionaires rose by just nine people.

The number of Black billionaires also falls very short of being representative of the general population. For example, only 8 or 1.2% of America’s 665 billionaires are Black. By contrast, Black people make up 12.2% of the U.S. population.

Breaking Through Barriers

There is still a large racial wealth gap between Black people and White people—even at the highest levels of financial achievement. However, despite these racial and systemic barriers, 14 of the 15 Black billionaires are self-made, meaning they built their wealth from the ground up. Who will be next to join the ranks?

“Innovation doesn’t happen without a person of color or a diversity of thought being at the table in order to challenge the status quo.”
—David Steward

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Economy

How Global Health and Wealth Has Changed Over Two Centuries

This unique animated visualization uses health and wealth measurements to chart the evolution of countries over time.

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How Global Health and Wealth Has Changed Over 221 Years

At the dawn of the 19th century, global life expectancy was only 28.5 years.

Outbreaks, war, and famine would still kill millions of people at regular intervals. These issues are still stubbornly present in 21st century society, but broadly speaking, the situation around the world has vastly improved. Today, most of humanity lives in countries where the life expectancy is above the typical retirement age of 65.

At the same time, while inequality remains a hot button topic within countries, income disparity between countries is slowing beginning to narrow.

This animated visualization, created by James Eagle, tracks the evolution of health and wealth factors in countries around the world. For further exploration, Gapminder also has a fantastic interactive chart that showcases the same dataset.

The Journey to the Upper-Right Quadrant

In general terms, history has seen health practices improve and countries become increasingly wealthy–trends that are reflected in this visualization. In fact, most countries drift towards the upper-right quadrant over the 221 years covered in the dataset.

However, that path to the top-right, which indicates high levels of both life expectancy and GDP per capita, is rarely a linear journey. Here are some of the noteworthy events and milestones to watch out for while viewing the animation.

1880s: Breaking the 50-Year Barrier
In the late 19th century, Nordic countries such as Sweden and Norway already found themselves past the 50-year life expectancy mark. This was a significant milestone considering the global life expectancy was a full 20 years shorter at the time. It wasn’t until the year 1960 that the global life expectancy would catch up.

1918: The Spanish Flu and WWI
At times, a confluence of factors can impact health and wealth in countries and regions. In this case, World War I coincided with one of the deadliest pandemics in history, leading to global implications. In the animation, this is abundantly clear as the entire cluster of circles takes a nose dive for a short period of time.

1933, 1960: Communist Famines
At various points in history, human decisions can have catastrophic consequences. This was the case in the Soviet Union (1933) and the People’s Republic of China (1960), where life expectancy plummeted during famines that killed millions of people. These extreme events are easy to spot in the animation due to the large populations of the countries in question.

1960s: Oil Economies Kick into High Gear
During this time, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia all experience massive booms in wealth, and in the following decade, smaller countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait rocket to the right edge of the visualization.

In following decades, both Iran and Iraq can be seen experiencing wild fluctuations in both health and wealth as regime changes and conflict begin to destabilize the region.

1990s: AIDS in Africa
In the animation, a number of countries plummet in unison at the end of the 20th century. These are sub-Saharan African countries that were hit hard by the AIDS pandemic. At its peak in the early ’00s, the disease accounted for more than half of deaths in some countries.

1995: Breaking the 65-Year Barrier
Global life expectancy reaches retirement age. At this point in time, there is a clear divide in both health and wealth between African and South Asian countries and the rest of the world. Thankfully, that gap is would continue to narrow in coming years.

1990-2000s: China’s Economic Rise
With a population well over a billion people, it’s impossible to ignore China in any global overview. Starting from the early ’90s, China begins its march from the left to right side of the chart, highlighting the unprecedented economic growth it experienced during that time.

What the Future Holds

If current trends continue, global life expectancy is expected to surpass the 80-year mark by 2100. And, sub-Saharan Africa, which has the lowest life expectancy today, is expected to mostly close the gap, reaching 75 years of age.

Wealth is also expected to increase nearly across the board, with the biggest gains coming from places like Vietnam, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Some experts are projecting the world economy as a whole to double in size by 2050.

There are always bumps along the way, but it appears that the journey to the upper-right quadrant is still very much underway.

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