The Art of Possible: A Consultative Approach to Financial Crime Fighting

Now is the time to change how financial institutions approach the purchase of software used to manage their critical operations, particularly in financial crime and compliance. Advancements in automation and artificial intelligence technologies are coming online, and the totality of its benefits at first may not yet seem fully intuitive. When combined with the overall sophistication of software providers today, it becomes clear that the traditional RFI and RFP process needs to be rethought by everyone in the decision-making chain. What we are doing now is not enough to keep up with rapid transformation.

While the RFI/RFP approach has served as the staple of enterprise software selection among FIs for decades, the typical method may have outlived its function as the primary and often sole determining factor of the FI decision process. These strategic (and costly) choices impact the future business health of their institutions. For institutions that truly want to obtain the best solution tailored to their needs, and to learn the "art of possible" for their firms, management and procurement teams alike should embrace and engage software providers as educators and trusted advisors, rather than simply view them as peddlers of software which complete a tickbox list of features and functions. 

In a way, I think that the relationship between vendor and institution should be similar to how people consult with physicians. You don't just sort through a list of medications and pick one or two. First you select a qualified specialist in the field to examine you, determine your immediate and long-term needs, and then (and only then) do you move on to finally select and purchase "medicine" to solve your issues. If I can take that thought further, you do not want to take the wrong medicine that could lead to even more problems down the road.

We don't think this idea is heresy. In fact, we think this consultative approach is a practical and effective way of addressing the change in our industry. Pointing to critical areas where we need to adapt to change, this approach will help financial institutions become better enabled to explore all the elements attached to managing operational risk and compliance.

Don't Omit Big Picture Elements

Institutions shouldn't waste time or money on constructing long and tedious RFIs/ RFPs which, in the end, may only be styled as check lists that support a final, and sometimes emotional, purchasing decision. Often that approach omits key "big picture" elements. We think that a more effective approach should start with invitations issued to the industry's top-rated providers in the customer's area to review and assess the institution's range of needs. Then, that stage should be followed by institution-specific presentations that include recommendations on how current business objectives may be met.

Not only does this process communicate a deeper respect for the institutional knowledge your vendor partner may have, but you may find that your shared insights include items that you overlooked when considering your initial budget and implementation roadmap. And in this age of big data, that can't be underestimated. If your institution has not upgraded or adapted new automation or artificial intelligence technology into your operation, you may lack an updated internal view on all that may be "possible" for your operation to be competitive. Another outside perspective never hurts the decision making process either – and lessons learned can also be applied to achieve a more effective RFI process for your procurement teams.   

What can today's consultative vendors of software, such as NICE Actimize, offer you with a services environment that you might not achieve through a basic RFI process? This approach more thoroughly assesses operational risk, evaluates technology choices and implementation, while considering the impact of regulatory pressures. In the end, the consultative approach exposes the institution to new ideas and new business models that ultimately deliver a more forward thinking strategy, rather than just incremental improvements. 

Financial services organizations are looking for strong management direction and methodologies to help them navigate new challenges, advance competitive positioning, and better assess a vision for their future. This approach should launch any technology review process, not be scheduled at the conclusion of the process as we often see. 

Financial Crime Target Operating Model Approach

Regardless of the vendor solution a financial services organization may be using, a trusted vendor partner should also work consistently with its customers to identify inefficiencies and provide services while reducing costs, thereby continuing to improve the effectiveness of the solutions in which the organization has already heavily invested.

This continued consultative approach enables customers to stay on top of developing technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, as well as create best practices for operational excellence and utilization of cost effective techniques. This methodology is designed to pinpoint objectives, create a meaningful technology roadmap and establish a strong enterprise operational plan.

Establishing a Financial Crime Target Operating Model (TOM), which is the approach we at NICE Actimize use, provides customers strategic direction to lay out a plan that covers infrastructure, policies, culture and awareness, training, tools, procedures, along with governance and independent review, among a number of critical attributes.

The answer to the "art of the possible" question is simple – before you fill that prescription or buy that expensive pain killer to stop the bad guys, find a "doctor" practitioner and trusted advisor who has your financial institution's whole health in mind and is best suited to move you on the path to growth and increased productivity.    

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