OPBAS publishes report on progress and themes from 2019

The FCA’s Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) has today released its latest report on progress made in tackling money laundering over the past year.

Among the key findings are that the accountancy and legal professions have made strong improvements in their supervision of anti-money laundering (AML) work. However, some professional body supervisors (PBSs) are still lagging behind their peers and must continue to raise their standards further.

One year ago, 91% of relevant PBSs were not fully applying a risk-based approach to their supervision. One year on, only 14% are not yet driving supervisory activity by AML risk.

We also observed a notable increase in governance arrangements for AML supervision. A year ago, 44% of PBSs lacked clear accountability for their supervisory work. This figure had reached zero by the end of 2019.

Despite these improvements across the industry, OPBAS’ report has identified a number of areas for improvement, including:

  • More enforcement action where appropriate. 41% of relevant PBSs did not take any kind of enforcement action for AML non-compliance
  • Better information and intelligence sharing. 40% of PBSs were not members of established intelligence sharing systems
  • Quality assurance of supervisory decision-making, with 32% of PBSs lacking formal procedures.
  • Better internal staff training, with 8% of PBSs still in need of structured training

Megan Butler, Executive Director of Supervision – Investment, Wholesale and Specialist, said:

'We are pleased to see that OPBAS’ work is leading to positive changes in how professional bodies oversee the fight against dirty money. 

'But there is still work to do, and in 12 months’ time we expect to see even greater improvements in anti-money laundering measures.'

OPBAS' report added that the full impact of changes to AML supervision is yet to be tested and will be a focus of OPBAS in 2020.