3 Key Takeaways from our AFC Network-centric Investigations Masterclass

By Rebecca Lindley

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    If you attended the Dark Money Conference, you might have caught our AFC network-centric investigations masterclass on using network-centric investigations to improve outcomes in AFC investigations. If you missed it, here are three of the key takeaways – or download the full AFC network-centric investigations masterclass for a complete introduction to the network-centric approach. 

    Takeaway 1: Network-centric investigations provide additional context – and can even enable business

    Where many investigations in AFC and AML centre around set processes, network-centric investigations encourage investigators to look at the subject of interest’s wider network in order to gain additional context. This might include corporate records and social network data, as well as internet searches and more traditional PEP/ sanctions lists. 

    For example, an unusually large transaction made to an unknown individual or company is difficult to explain without any context on the recipient. Using a network-centric approach, the investigator may discover that the instigator of the transaction has recently set up the company, or that the individual in question is a family member, allowing them to make a more informed assessment about the transaction’s legitimacy.

    This kind of approach won’t work for every monitoring alert but is useful in specific cases, such as:

    • Investigators looking to unravel complex financial crimes where connectivity between global entities plays a key role.
    • Investigators performing EDD on high-risk clients. 

    In these cases, the benefits of the network-centric approach are twofold. Firstly, the investigator is more likely to be able to identify risk, improving proactive risk prevention. Secondly, the investigator can achieve a more nuanced view of the associated risk, allowing them to make an accurate assessment based on all of the information available. In some cases, this may lead to the enablement business which would previously have been deemed impossible because of a lack of understanding of the risk it posed.

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    Takeaway 2: External data is an important part of the network-centric approach 

    The success of a network-centric investigation depends upon using a wide range of data types. Whilst internal data and traditional sanctions/ PEP lists are a mainstay for many investigators in financial institutions, network-centric investigations require investigators to combine these sources with external (open source) data. By analysing information from as many data sources as possible, investigators can build a full picture of a subject of interest.

    Data sources that investigators should consider to maximise the effectiveness of their network-centric investigations include:

    • Global corporate records data
    • Search engine data
    • Social media data
    • Adverse media

    Furthermore, the sheer volume of external data available means that failure to make use of it leaves organisations open to unknown risks. For example, a well-known curated dataset contains 6 petabytes of data – a dramatic contrast to the 1200 petabytes that the internet offered at the end of 2020. Disregarding 99% of data guarantees that financial institutions will miss out on valuable insights.

    Takeaway 3: Technology is needed to overcome common challenges

    As we’ve discussed above, open source data is an essential part of network-centric investigations. However, collecting this data at speed can be challenging, as can turning it into intelligence. The sheer volume and disparate nature of data available in open sources means that sifting through it manually limits investigators’ efficiency. Here, technology can augment investigators’ abilities in a number of ways:

    • Automation of manual processes such as data collection helps investigators to get the data they need faster so they have more time for analysis
    • Advanced analytics: some OSINT solutions help the investigator to spot hidden insights such as similarities in data that might reveal new connections
    • Data visualisation lets investigators visualise networks intuitively, so they can understand connections better and find hard-to-identify links

    If you’re looking for a software solution that supports a network-centric approach to AFC investigations whilst improving investigator efficiency, take a look at Videris, our open source investigations platform.

    Network-centric investigations lead to better AFC outcomes 

    Network-centric investigations are a relatively new approach for many financial institutions but have the potential to significantly impact AFC outcomes. They allow investigators to proactively identify risk and gain a more nuanced view of a situation in order to make an informed assessment. To implement a network-centric approach effectively, investigators need access to the right data and technology. If you’re interested in finding out more about the network-centric approach, view the full AFC network-centric investigations masterclass.

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