Expert interview: 'Digital transformation will soon allow us to automate 80% of compliance decisions'

Anne de Geus
December 4, 2019 - Reading Time 4 minutes

Business Development & Partnership Manager Mike van Kessel outlines how natural language processing, text mining, fuzzy matching and machine learning are going to achieve the 'happy flow'. Van Kessel: 'Combined with enormous mountains of transactional data, these technologies will soon enable organizations to automate 80 percent of their compliance decisions. And that's what everyone is clamoring for.'

Opslag industriële materialen

Organizations often see compliance as a check in the box', observes Mike van Kessel, who, as Business Development & Partnerships Manager at Altares, is responsible for new solutions realised with partners. While organizations with a proactive compliance approach are actually able to anticipate risks early on and facilitate the growth of the company at the same time.

Such a proactive approach, Van Kessel argues, requires a framework with six components: data, technology, people, culture, governance and policy. In the field of technology, we have seen spectacular developments in recent years, which he says will accelerate even further in the coming years.

Huge numbers of additional data

'Nowadays, in the fourth industrial revolution, we do almost everything in the business world digitally. Moreover, those mountains of transactional data are often shared immediately,' says Van Kessel. On top of this basic data, data providers such as Altares - Dun & Bradstreet can collect and offer enormous amounts of additional data through technologies such as natural language processing, text mining and fuzzy matching.

Van Kessel: 'For example, we used to send someone abroad to an archive to write everything down and later enter it on the computer. Now that person takes a picture and the data is immediately recognized and processed, regardless of the language and whether it is handwritten.'

In this way, for example, company data, news reports, judgments and data are collected about Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBO's) All in all, this kind of data helps to form a complete picture of a company or natural person. And that's valuable for several steps in the compliance process, such as knowing and screening your customer and spotting false positives.

Towards the Happy Flow

'80 percent of compliance decisions are now manual and 20 percent automated. With those data collection technologies combined with machine learning, we will soon be moving towards the happy flow. That is, 80 percent automated and 20 percent manual,' states Van Kessel.

Isn't that wishful thinking? 'No. In credit risk decisions, for example, this is already the practice. But I have to admit that we still have a fairly long way to go.'

In addition to even more big data, this also requires smart artificial intelligence models that will initially advise on the basis of patterns but will later even decide autonomously. Van Kessel: "At Altares - Dun & Bradstreet we are now fully engaged in these kinds of models. Everyone is jumping at it. Partly because there is a crying shortage of good compliance staff.

A proactive compliance culture

Van Kessel: "Imagine. All data is automatically retrieved from the right sources and verified, after which a score is made and a decision is taken. In this way you take better decisions and avoid risks. And you can onboard customers faster, which means you generate turnover sooner and improve customer satisfaction.'

Plus, possibly the most important according to Van Kessel: 'You save a huge amount of time compared to manual decisions. So as a compliance officer you will have more time to focus on a proactive compliance culture. Because only when compliance is in the DNA of your entire organization can you anticipate risks early and facilitate business growth at the same time.'

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