Filing SARs is supposed to be the cutscene, not the boss fight

AML compliance workflows can often be held back by shortcomings such as: 

  • fragmented, manual data processing 
  • ineffective alert mechanisms 
  • limited insight into transaction behavior 

On top of these unnecessary hurdles and bottlenecks, at the end of the day even the final step, filing suspicious activity records, feels like yet another battle to fight instead of an act of accomplishment. 

Really, it’s as if SAR filing is an extra boss fight at the end of a badly designed video game. 

If AML was a video game 

You made it! You've passed the the Forest of False Positives, you waded through the Swamps of Stale KYC. You traveled the Meadow of Murky Transactions and explored both the Castle of Customer Behavior and the Catacombs of Blockchain. 

You’ve endured through all and you're ready to take the prize. But wait, what's that? Another encounter??

Yes, you'll need to defeat one last enemy: the dreaded Suspicious Activity Report. It's a tough one. You're against a nigh-impenetrable armor of XML Editing, dodging the Crossbow of Typos, and resisting the dark side of Regulation Magic. 

Image source/credit: IGN/Dark Souls II https://www.ign.com/wikis/dark-souls-2/Bosses

You've done enough, haven't you? So, will SAR filing be the end of the hero's journey, or do you have enough strength in you for one last stand? 

Fighting money laundering (and through AML reducing the dangers and damage of terrorism, human and drug trafficking, and other serious crimes) shouldn’t turn on such a badly designed encounter. 

AML is not a video game 

Compliance professionals should be fighting financial crime, not their own tools. So why are we making the job harder for ourselves and getting away easier for criminals? AML is serious business, and we should make it easier for compliance professionals, and not money launderers, to do what they do.  

An estimated 80% of an AML analyst's time is wasted gathering and sorting through data. That's 1500 hours per person per year: almost 9 months' worth of workdays. But even beyond fixing that problem, filing SARs can take up to 4 hours of tedious work that can be nullified by a simple typo. Over 3 million SARs were filed in 2021 — that’s 12 million hours spent on SAR filings. (Which is 1368.93 years, for those interested in such conversions - just shy of a millennium and a half spent on SAR filings in 2021 alone. The mind boggles.) 

The video game analogy may be unusual, but it's not wrong. Legacy tools put an extra hurdle on top of an already strained process. 

Can we do SAR filings better? 

Short answer? Yes. 

Long answer? Also yes. We have the technology. The data is already there, and there's no reason whatsoever that should prevent us from using it, instead of starting over when it comes to filing a SAR for the authorities to use. 

Fighting financial crime is a serious profession, and we can make it easier for those struggling on the front lines day after day. In fact, we'll have just the thing for making SAR filings a lot easier. Watch this space! 

In the meantime, we do invite you to play: see what an AML compliance tool explicitly designed for productivity and efficiency looks like. For free. Come this way, adventurer. 

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Cover photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash. 

A sneak peek: we can do SAR better!

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Greg Fazekas

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