Choosing the right AFC tech: three key considerations


The range of technology solutions targeted at AFC processes in banks is constantly growing – and with it, the promise to solve all of a financial crime investigations team’s challenges. Identifying the most useful solution amongst hundreds of products with similar messaging is difficult. Here are three considerations that may help potential technology buyers work out what solution suits their organisation best. 

Enhance existing capabilities

If an FI already has a team of experienced investigators, there’s little to be gained by completely replacing them with technology. Instead, a solution that enhances their capabilities is needed. Fortunately, some of today’s AFC technology solutions are designed to meet the requirements of a law enforcement or national security use cases, meaning that the needs of an experienced investigator are at their core . For example, a solution might offer tools to help an experienced investigator identify the most important information without making decisions on their behalf.  

It’s also important to ensure that the investigator doesn’t have to use multiple different technologies to do their job: the existence of platforms that offer end-to-end solutions are critical in avoiding additional silos or operational complexity. In this way,  investigators can conduct effective investigations quickly and accurately, helping to establish the investigative approach as central to an FI’s AFC procedures.

Focus on outcomes

The emphasis on AI as a key consideration when choosing AFC tech has grown in recent years, with many organisations offering AI-driven platforms that promise to transform an FI’s capabilities. These promises are alluring, but the quality of the outcomes they produce is dependent on the application they’re intended for. Where AI is part of a regulated process, such as sanctions screening or transaction monitoring, it can be used to improve efficiency. However, in a complex investigation scenario, AI cannot currently replace the nuance and expertise of the investigator. 

If AI is not a catch-all solution, then what can improve efficiency and effectiveness in AFC investigations? Part of the answer is the Intelligent Automation (IA) approach.  Intelligent Automation allows investigations teams to make the most of their existing capability  by automating manual processes such as data collection, while letting the investigator decide the direction and focus of the investigation. AI may be suited to processes at the transaction monitoring or L1 stage of an investigation, but it can’t yet be considered a full solution. By introducing IA, investigators can get the best of both worlds: a more efficient investigation where effectiveness is also maximised.

Ensure ROI

The reduction of the tensions between increasing effectiveness and making efficiencies is often a key factor when acquiring new technology. Finding a solution that balances each of these considerations is therefore essential. For example, a tool that provides additional data to help investigators make decisions may not offer good ROI because the investigator will have to spend additional time reviewing this data. In this situation, a solution that allows for the comprehensive collection of relevant data, and also provides the tools to quickly identify and analyse relevant data is likely to offer far better ROI. 

Another consideration might be how broad a technology solution’s application is. For example, an investigations tool might initially be purchased to enhance AML or CFT investigations – but the same functionality might also be useful for providing nuanced assessments of high-value potential clients, rather than disregarding them as too risky according to the generalised criteria used by traditional screening tools.  By identifying solutions with broader use cases, financial crime investigations teams can ensure that new technology is viewed as a means of enabling high-quality business that is in line with an FI’s risk appetite.