Optimisation Without the Disruption: An Anti-Financial Crime Technology Buyer’s Guide

By Blackdot Solutions

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    Interest in using technology and artificial intelligence to combat financial crime has soared in recent years, supported by technology-positive sentiments from regulators and industry bodies. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, has notably recognised new technologies’ ability to make anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing programmes faster, cheaper, and more effective. Regulators have also emphasised the importance of effectiveness over tick-box compliance, in the context of traditional tools becoming less effective for identifying complex criminal activities. Looking forward, firms will likely need to prove their systems are not only compliant but also effective.

    These factors underscore the importance for financial institutions of equipping their teams with tools that optimise the compliance function. However, alongside technology’s benefits, there are important risks to consider. These can include risks pertaining to technical capabilities, functionality, vendor management and outsourcing risks, change management, and evolving regulatory developments. The mere presence of these risks can stop financial institutions and organisations from adopting anti-financial crime technology altogether, preventing them from reaping its benefits. To help firms enjoy the advantages of technology and overcome these risks, they must strategically identify, account for, and mitigate them. 

    This guide examines the three phases of technology adoption, from selection to implementation to use. By looking at the common concerns of technology adoption, it provides actionable recommendations for financial institutions to reduce disruption and optimise their processes.

    Selection phase

    To benefit from third party anti-financial crime technology, you must select the correct vendor and tool for your needs. Despite firms needing to abide by the same regulatory requirements, contingent on the jurisdiction, each organisation has its own nuances and unique technical requirements and specificities. These factors render the selection phase one of the most vital in technology adoption.

    Step one: research

    The first step involves researching and gathering information on the requirements of your firm. Avoid rushing this step and making generalisations. Instead, focus your research to capture a clear understanding of what your organisation specifically needs, interviewing multiple stakeholders from different departments as needed. Consider requirements relating to language or country, relevant regulations about outsourcing, the types of transactions or clients you support, your existing technology stack and data architecture, and your in-house resources and capabilities. 

    This latter point is particularly crucial: by investing in a tool that works within your current workflow, you’ll ensure that existing technological investments continue to add value. For example, many technologies aim to replace existing solutions that you may already have invested heavily in. Depending on the complexity of your pre-existing processes and where you want the tool to sit in your workflow, you may find these tools simply aren’t compatible with your institution. A better option might be to identify a solution that can work alongside – and enhance – existing tools. 

    How Blackdot Solutions can help

    At Blackdot Solutions, we create leading investigations software that allows investigators to unlock key insights in seconds, not hours. Our Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) solution, Videris, offers the flexibility to integrate with existing tools and processes. Alongside leveraging unstructured data from the internet, Videris allows users to access a variety of curated data sets. If an organisation has existing data subscriptions that aren’t included in the platform, they will be able to integrate these through open APIs. Organisations can invest in Videris in the knowledge that it will enhance existing processes, ensuring continued ROI across all tools whilst unlocking enhanced efficiency in the fight against financial crime.

    Step two: evaluating options and creating a shortlist

    Once you have a clear understanding of your requirements, you may wish to draft a request for proposal outlining details such as necessary background information, desired outcomes and goals, technical specifications, timelines, and budgets. Alternatively, conduct online research on different solutions to help create a list of candidates. The goal is to understand different vendors’ expertise and their tools’ compatibility with your firm’s needs. A vendor that invites questions and answers them promptly, fully and honestly is more likely to be easier to work with and offer customers better support later on.

    Evaluate potential vendors based on predefined criteria like cost, solution capabilities, and integration options. Because you’ve already outlined your needs, assessing proposals becomes a more standardised, streamlined, and objective process. Ideally, you’ll quickly eliminate vendors that don’t meet your minimum requirements. 

    Important considerations during this phase:

    • Can the vendor work with your system rather than ripping and replacing it? For example, can the vendor’s  tool integrate into your case management system?
    • Is the tool easy to use with a good user interface?
    • Does the vendor provide varied and suitable delivery mechanisms (e.g. SaaS platform, on a cloud, on-premise)?
    • Will the system grow with your firm; is it future-proof? (e.g. is it scalable?)
    • What sort of training and support does the vendor provide? Will they work with your team to ensure success?

    As you continue evaluating candidates, create a shortlist of vendors. Look at factors like technical capabilities, user experience, implementation approach, reputation, pricing, and anti-financial crime knowledge.

    How Blackdot Solutions can help

    Videris offers flexible deployment options and an intuitive interface, meaning that it has a fast time to value. World-leading customer support and regular training are included in every contract: the Blackdot team works with every customer to ensure that they achieve maximum ROI. We’ve already helped anti-financial crime teams across several financial institutions enhance their processes.

    Step three: proof of concept and final selection

    The final step in the selection phase is choosing your preferred vendor. In some cases, you may opt for a proof of concept, where the solution is implemented into your enterprise in a limited way. This allows key stakeholders to get hands-on experience with the tool, assessing its performance and effectiveness with your firm’s unique workflow.

    The importance of future-proofing

    One often overlooked aspect during the selection phase is whether third party tools are future-proof. Firms must consider how the tool will grow with them as they scale, potential future requirements by regulators, and trends in financial crime. Can the tool handle increased volumes as you grow? Does the vendor have a roadmap for improving the tool’s functionality? If something changes in your organisation, will you have to redeploy the tool or redesign its workflow?

    More holistically, how will future trends impact the tool’s ability to uphold your anti-financial crime obligations? For example, the recent Russia-Ukraine war and consequent sanctions have spotlighted the importance of using open-source intelligence (OSINT) to untangle relationships, going beyond sanctions screening to understand complex corporate and interpersonal relationships. Read more about the war’s impact on compliance here.

    How Blackdot Solutions can help

    Official bodies have increasingly endorsed the use of OSINT, meaning that it may soon become a regulatory requirement. For example, jurisdictions such as the European Union and the United Kingdom already explicitly recommend adverse media and open-source searches for higher-risk clients. Additionally, the FATF recommends adverse media searches as part of enhanced due diligence to inform individual customer risk assessments. 

    OSINT capability is therefore an important factor in determining whether a tool is future-proof. Videris allows OSINT to be used effectively and at scale in anti-financial crime investigations, providing greater scope for uncovering risk and helping your institution to stay ahead of evolving regulatory developments.

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    Implementation phase

    Once you select a tool, the implementation phase begins. Many concerns around adopting technology are rooted in this adjustment period, where firms have the most potential to experience difficulties. Having gone through a rigorous selection phase, you will have ideally selected a solution with easy integrations that is quickly deployable and intuitive to use. 

    To minimise disruption, adopt a phased implementation approach which allows for sufficient technical testing and employee training. Successful implementation requires the tool to function correctly and for staff to use it properly. Ensure you have quality training materials and adequate resources during this phase. While you will have already set yourself up for success by picking a tool with an easy-to-use interface, an adjustment learning period is inevitable. 

    Help staff feel comfortable and confident using the technology by scheduling workshops so that they can ask questions before the tool goes fully live. A good vendor will provide ongoing support with technical integration and compliance teams using the tool. It’s important to consider during the selection process what type of support is included and what will incur additional costs.

    How Blackdot Solutions can help

    Videris can be installed in just a few hours, depending on the deployment type chosen. Thanks to this rapid deployment process, Videris supports a fast time to value and return on investment. Because it was developed alongside investigators, teams find Videris easy to understand and adopt. However, extensive initial training is provided, along with regular workshops to ensure that customers get full value from new features.  

    Tips for ease of implementation

    • Pick a vendor that has a quick deployment time and offers pre-built integrations.
    • Adopt a phased implementation approach, allowing for adequate testing and training.
    • Have realistic timelines with ample buffer time in case the unexpected happens.
    • Choose a vendor that offers ongoing support, both technical support for integration and guidance on how compliance staff can use the tool optimally.

    Videris offers all of these features, helping teams achieve ongoing success.

    Use phase

    As you enter the use phase and move towards business as usual, there are a few issues to consider. Assess any business continuity risks if a vendor stops operating or has outages. Your firm should have a clearly outlined process in case of any disruption, whether that means a backup vendor or a defined process for your staff. 

    As outlined in the selection and implementation phase, pick a tool that will grow with your business. Does your vendor have a good tech team? Will there be continuous updates as technology and the anti-financial crime environment evolve? 

    A good vendor will offer ongoing support and training opportunities, even after the implementation phase, during business as usual. These additions should be clearly outlined in the contract, with defined roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion. 

    How Blackdot Solutions helps anti-financial crime teams optimise without disruption

    Blackdot Solutions are the creators of Videris, an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) solution that allows investigations teams to work faster and more effectively with external data. Our focus is on enhancing organisations’ existing workflows with open source intelligence whilst minimising disruption.

    Future-proof investment

    In anti-financial crime compliance, OSINT is critical to a risk-based approach. Important and influential compliance bodies are increasingly recognising its worth, and it’s only going to become more relevant as online data expands. Financial institutions should invest in OSINT tools, including those with artificial intelligence capabilities, to stay compliant and streamline their anti-financial crime processes. 

    By investing in Videris, you can rest assured that you’re equipping your firm with a future-proof technology solution. You can read more about how Videris is designed to help investigators stay ahead of current and future OSINT challenges here.

    Flexible deployment

    Videris offers flexible deployment options so you can tailor your implementation according to your organisation’s needs.

    Easy integration

    Videris integrates seamlessly into your current systems, ensuring you get more out of your existing investments. It allows you to avoid ripping and replacing, and gives teams the ability to overlay existing workflows with external data without creating additional siloes.

    Pre-built integrations with commonly used OSINT sources (corporate records providers, adverse media and more) offer a fast out-of-the-box solution. Low-code build your own integrations are also available for optimal customisation.

    World-class training and support

    Videris was built with investigators for investigators, meaning that it can be adopted quickly by investigative teams. Each client has access to ongoing, high-quality training and support tailored to their unique needs. Our team is committed to ensuring you get the most out of Videris by maximising ROI and supporting success.

    Book a demo today.

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