Many of us in AML are old. Old enough to say things to our teenagers and college aged kids like, “When I was your age they played videos on MTV,” and, “What are you talking about, ‘The Safety Dance’ is a great song.”
Turns out today’s generation may fail to see the appeal of hair bands in leather pants wearing bandanas around their thighs.
To anyone paying attention, it should be clear there is also a growing generation gap in AML. The eye rolls the new generation directs our way have a lot to do with the enormous technology gap plaguing financial crime compliance.
Here is a quick exercise for those in AML management who grew up watching movies where Burt Reynolds had a leading role:
Look at the software applications your department is using for transaction monitoring and adverse media research. Then look at the age of the AML analysts and investigators recently hired and ask yourself this; “What grade were these folks in when this monitoring system and negative news application were developed?”
If you have anyone younger than 27 years old, the systems they are using were developed way back when they were in the 4th grade! A recent college graduate entering the AML workforce was just beginning kindergarten when your monitoring system and negative news application became the standard in AML.
I know some readers may be thinking, “Yes, but the version of (fill in the blank) monitoring system or negative news application isn’t the same as it was 15 years ago.”
Really? Whatever small changes have been made are still years behind what today’s newer generation of AML workers expect from technology. Why has technology changed nearly every aspect of our lives, except it seems AML?
Whether it’s a new phone app, a new feature on our car’s video console, or how we order food, all of us expect technology in our lives to be simple, intuitive and efficient.
Applications makers don’t send us user manuals. We expect that within a minute or two we will figure out how to use something new and, if we don’t, we drop it and move onto something simpler.
Yet in AML, the older generation accepts dysfunction, inefficiency, and the risks that come with it.
The younger generation has different expectations. We know they want their work to give them a sense of meaning and purpose. They want fulfillment beyond a paycheck. They are intrigued by new technology and the prospect of change. They have a lower tolerance for frustration. Maybe all this is for the better. I don’t know. That isn’t the point.
The point is, that if AML technology doesn’t improve – really improve – and start providing AML workers with much better tools, financial institutions, regulators, and policy makers will never keep pace with the growing risks.
New AML applications should be simple to use, regularly updated and fast. Most importantly, AML applications should be designed to enable analysts to improve the quality and speed of their work.
Existing monitoring and adverse media systems require AML users to navigate confusing and sluggish interfaces that look and feel like they are running 15-year-old technology, which, unfortunately they are.
When we use apps on our phones, we expect them to work “smoothly.” There is no need to define what is meant by “smooth” – we all know what it looks and feels like. In 2017, applications used by AML and Financial Crime analysts should be smooth too. Instead they are clunky and
make users feel as though they are working against the application, in a struggle against wasted time and inefficiency.
Five years from now, will AML be using new applications and systems that look and feel like the technology we expect in our personal lives, or will we be seeing the current scene of dysfunction and inefficiency play itself out over and over again?
That reminds me a great movie all kids today should see, “Groundhog Day,” released in 1993 and starring Bill Murray (a really funny old guy).