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New AML initiative highlights need for PPP: UBS financial crime chief

New AML initiative highlights need for PPP: UBS financial crime chief

The Wealth Management Institute and UBS have signed an agreement to launch a new initiative -- the WMI Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Risk Management Program.

The program aims to deepen AML competencies in the wealth management industry to combat financial crime.

'I foresee a harmonised set of AML standards across financial institutions around the globe to avoid arbitrage. This should ideally be predicated on public-public, private-private and public-private knowledge sharing, especially as financial crime evolves,' Jonathan Shih, head compliance and operational risk control, UBS Wealth Management and global head financial crime, said at a press briefing held in Singapore on Monday.

The UBS sponsorship for the program of work is for a period of three years.

Added David James, HMRC fiscal crime liaison officer, British High Commission, Singapore: 'Criminals can change their modus operandi within days, sometimes within hours. Even agile organisations are finding it hard to keep up.  Public-private partnerships are at the heart of tackling money laundering and terrorism financing.'

First line of defence

Under this program, WMI will create technology enhanced learning modules on AML and countering of terrorism financing topics. 

These modules will be made available to industry participants such as private bankers and compliance and audit professionals in the wealth management sector.

On completion, the training may be counted towards the Client Advisory Competency Standards Continuing Professional Development hours.

'AML advisory is a key component of compliance and will need the human touch for the foreseeable future. While the first level of checks -- alerts and KYC files -- might be replaced by robotics, the frontline staff is essential for manual escalation of KYC and AML concerns. So they need to be equipped accordingly,' said Jason Tan, director, forensic, at KPMG.

Aside from training, the program will commission research papers relevant to tackling AML/CFT risks faced by wealth managers, as well as develop case studies.

It will also create forums for senior compliance decision makers, featuring international AML thought leaders -- to share global best practices and facilitate local adoption.

The program is supported by the The Association of Banks in Singapore and Institute of Banking & Finance, and is also aligned to the expectations of the Monetary Authority of Singapore for the financial industry to deepen competencies in AML risk management.

Invested assets of UBS Wealth Management were at CHF 311 billion in the first quarter of 2017.

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