Do You Need a Financial Crime Program Assessment?

Bob Hager, Lead Business Consultant, NICE Actimize
Do You Need a Financial Crime Program Assessment?

Financial crime programs must continually adapt to the changing regulatory and threat landscape. This makes the refinement of the tools and processes crucial to meeting new regulatory requirements and thwarting emerging threats.

Failing to refine tools and processes can leave both technical teams and operations users at war with inefficient processes. On the other hand, continually upgrading solutions can introduce instability and pressure for those same teams. A financial crime program assessment can help you assess where your program is today and create a strategy for its future development with your goals in mind.

Read on to learn what challenges you can address with a program assessment, what checks you can do, and the potential impact of a thorough check on your financial crime program. 

Tackling Challenges with a Program Assessment

A proper assessment will evaluate the impact of several operational and technical challenges on your financial crime program, making it easier for you to create a development plan that bridges your current state and future state. These challenges include:

Operational Obstacles

  • Higher alert volumes
    Higher alert volumes can result from high false positive levels, incorrect selection or over selection of rules, and infrequent tuning. Limited resource availability and a lack of experience doing root cause analyses often impede teams’ ability to accurately understand the root cause of these issues. Operational cost (OpEx) constraints can also hinder efforts to strengthen these capabilities. A program assessment can help evaluate the source of these issues so teams can address them head on. 
  • Too many manual processes and a lack of automation
    Automation has a direct impact on alert average handle times (AHT). When reviewing alerts, analysts might use multiple systems outside their case management solution to gather the necessary data to make an informed decision. However, searching for desired information requires more time and effort, leaving less time for investigation. A program assessment can identify such things as inefficient processes which may negatively impact the end-user, allowing organizations to streamline alert and case review steps. 
  • Inaccurate and untimely reporting
    Management reporting is vital to the success of an organization but gathering reports can be very difficult and time-consuming. There are no guaranteed end results will yield correct insights, as inaccurate and incomplete data can mislead organizations. Effective reporting empowers management to maintain a closer eye on the health of the program, not just to run more efficiently or make internal audits easier, but to report to the Board and regulators requesting details. Accurate metrics are foundational for effective management reporting. Through a program assessment, financial institutions can pinpoint gaps and strengthen reporting.

To maximize operational efficiency, financial institutions need to lower alert volumes, streamline the investigation process, and gain access to accurate reporting. If an AML or fraud program struggles with any of these aspects, it will affect overall success. An assessment and plan are key to overcoming these challenges. 

Technical Challenges

In many FIs, ongoing operations and continued growth can stress IT teams. Limited resources are spent performing the daily tasks required to maintain systems. Staff turnover complicates operations, as some (or even all) current team members may lack knowledge of why and how certain decisions were made during prior deployments and key changes. In addition, teams are often without details that could help them understand current configurations due to incomplete or nonexistent documentation.

FIs can also encounter performance-related issues which negatively impact the end-user experience. For instance, a report taking several minutes to render will reduce an analyst’s productivity. Performance issues can be the result of:

  • Improper sizing of the solution at the time of implementation
  • Inefficient code that introduces changes to the front end
  • Changes in volumes, such as alerts and transactions, that create additional load on the solution

Any of these conditions can potentially hinder overall performance.

When it comes to solutions, many FIs need some level of customization to align with their business needs. Customizations are a great avenue for a client to create the features and functionality needed, however they can add stress for current and future deployments. Customizations may not translate well or be compatible with the newer versions of a solution.

FIs must address these challenges, understand their impact, and be mindful of costs—all while aligning with the overall strategy and objectives of the organization. 

Determining Program Assessment Goals

The first step of an effective program assessment is getting a holistic understanding of your current state and your target future state. This means intimately understanding your challenges, but also where you want to go.

Understanding the full extent of your goals and objectives, whether it be enhancing productivity (AHTs and service level agreements (SLAs)) or resolving technical issues, helps ensure business processes are functioning as needed and solutions provide the desired output.

Checks to Consider Based on Your Goals

Once you’ve determined your goals, you can establish which program assessment would be appropriate to progress on those goals. Some examples include:

Technical Assessment

  • Technical Architecture Review
  • System Issues and Log Review
  • Patches Review
  • Volumetric Assessment
  • Database Configuration Review
  • Management of the Actimize Solutions
  • Customization and Business Context Evaluation

Business Assessments

Risk Coverage Assessment

  • Business model and risk appetite review
  • Assessment of current risk categories to active rules
  • Current rule/model performance metrics review
  • Data availability analysis within the Actimize solution
  • Processes to identify trends and actions to address them
  • Review of scoring, thresholds and segmentation 

Operational Assessment

  • Operations Evaluation
  • Reporting Activities & Criteria
  • Automation Opportunity Assessment
  • Workflow Optimization 

The Impact of a Strong Program Assessment

After completing a program assessment, your organization will realize several benefits. These benefits range depending on which assessment you complete. Our clients have seen assessments:

  • Cut Average Handle Time (AHT) by significantly reducing work item processing efforts with existing enhancements and functionality. Enable analytics teams to improve reporting by identifying and adding key data points to their case management solution
  • Enhance end-user experiences by enabling and correcting permissions-based functionality
  • Increase risk coverage by identifying which AML typologies are covered, partially covered or lacking coverage based on the current rule set
  • Decrease false-positives and improve true positives with granular segments and improve rule threshold and scoring configurations
  • Align data better, ensuring new rules have all required attributes and generate quality alerts 

Getting to Your Future State

As a trusted advisor, NICE Actimize partners with clients to help them gain insight into their current business and infrastructure, resolve known issues and plan for their future state.

You can find out what updates your system needs by scheduling an Actimize Business or Technical Assessment. Our subject matter experts will identify and provide various remedies based on your business needs using best practices gained from years of experience working with clients.

The Technical Assessment offers clients many options to assess environments, from a current view into the performance of your solutions to assessing customizations or an upgrade with an eye on what lies ahead.

The Actimize Business Assessment offers clients two approaches based on their needs: Risk Coverage Assessment and Operational Assessment. Both approaches aim to provide recommendations designed to offer quick wins, enabling immediate gains. Just like our technical assessments, business assessments provide recommendations designed to align a client’s future state goals and objectives.

You can find out more about these and other services by scheduling a call with our subject matter experts who can recommend offerings based on your specific business needs. NICE Actimize is here to help you along your journey. To learn more, please visit or contact us at

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