Beating the BSA blues

by. Shelbey Ballantyne

The Bank Secrecy Act. For many, just reading those words can create feelings of nausea, and with good reason. However, in an era where banks are fined millions of dollars or issued cease and desist orders for BSA failures, it seems that institutions can’t afford to let down their guard. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry put it this way: “the Bank Secrecy Act is a key element in the fight against illegal drugs and terrorism… Meeting the challenges of the future will require increased diligence on the part of the industry and government alike.”

With avoiding penalties and fighting major crimes seemingly riding on compliance with BSA, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and queasy. Add to that the issues heralded by the evolving nature of currency (we’re looking at you, Bitcoin), and you have a recipe for potential disaster—or at the least, a very burnt-out compliance officer.

However, as Curry adroitly points out, “the same technologies that can be exploited for illicit purposes can also be employed to combat [these activities]. Perhaps the time has come to explore these sources of technology as a means of…reduc[ing] the significant costs and burdens imposed on banks and other financial institutions.”3 Clearly, the time for half-measures has passed. It’s time to immerse your institution in the capabilities of technology, because you can rest assured that those who threaten your BSA security are already doing the same.

Using a cloud-based system of compliance reviews can make your compliance officer more effective by unburdening him or her from the time-consuming task of monitoring operations. It’s an approach we’ve developed here at NeighborBench. We do this by using our cloud-based system to request various materials related to BSA (such as training documentation, the written OFAC policy, wire transfer logs, etc.) and reviewing these documents for compliance with rules and regulations. Furthermore, we offer timely and informative compliance reference tools, such as our online Risk Management Manuals and periodic regulatory updates. Not only can we alleviate the load of your compliance officer, NeighborBench’s competitive pricing can reduce the significant costs associated with compliance.

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