The challenges associated with know your customer (KYC) compliance have escalated for corporate treasury teams around the world in recent years. This has made basic tasks such as opening a bank account turn into time consuming and complex activities, eating into the resources of treasury teams and negatively impacting the business.
All treasurers have strong opinions on KYC. Indeed, some go as far as calling the whole process a “nightmare” because of the amount of time and effort they spend on it. What is more, a recent Thomson Reuters survey of this space showed that treasury professionals expect the situation to get worse before it gets better.
In a recent webinar hosted by the Treasury Today Group, Rana Datta, Head of KYC and Onboarding Sales, Asia Pacific at Thomson Reuters spoke in detail about the findings of Thomson Reuters’ latest study and the challenges that corporates currently face. These issues range from a lack of common standards, the need to deal with multiple people during the process, security concerns and just a general consumption of time and effort.
Ultimately, KYC challenges are forcing corporates to re-evaluate their banking relationships and sometimes disregard banks because of KYC. A poll of the audience during the webinar found that a staggering 58.1% had discounted a bank because the KYC process was too onerous.
The other side of the coin
Datta explained that corporates are increasingly burdened by their shareholder obligations to conduct KYC on their buyers and suppliers and specific corporations (designated non financial businesses and professionals) will come under the purview of regulators in relation to AML and KYC reporting obligations. Areas that corporates must be cognisant of, from a substantive risk perspective, include meeting anti-bribery and corruption regulations; having a clean supply chain; adhering to ESG obligations and unwrapping the corporate structure to understand who is behind the business to make sure it is not falling foul of sanctions.
Although this is the less-discussed side of KYC, it was encouraging to see from a poll of the audience that a third already had a formal client/supplier due diligence programme in place and a further third were planning to put one in place soon.
Centralise and streamline
To conclude the webinar, Datta spoke of the merits of a centralised repository such as Thomson Reuters KYC as a Service solution in helping both corporates and banks streamline and centralise their KYC processes.
For corporates the solution comes at no cost and allows them to upload their documents to a centralised repository, which creates a KYC profile using this information and publicly available data, that can be shared with banks. Within the portal, corporates can also easily maintain and update their data, relieving many of the challenges that they currently face.
Datta also spoke of Thomson Reuters’ GoldTier solution which enables corporates to put in place a formal client/customer onboarding programme for customer due diligence and best practice. Most corporates currently don’t fall under financial regulations but still need to identify, unwrap shareholding structure, screen and take a risk-based approach to onboarding. The solution helps corporates ensure transparency, reduces operational costs and improves client servicing.
Time to act?
This thought-provoking webinar not only highlighted the challenges that corporates face around KYC; it also showed that there are solutions and proactive steps that corporates can take to alleviate some of the burdens today.
And it is clear that the regulators are only going to become stricter around KYC, meaning that corporates and banks alike need to act now to reduce the pain and get back to the business of doing business.
If you missed the webinar and would like to hear the full recording: