Give me a due diligence break

When people ask me what I do for a living, I can guarantee two responses: (1) “Wouldn’t you make more money from doing the laundering – I bet you could with all your experience!” and (2) “My wife/gran/mistress/dog tried to open a new account the other day at the bank she and her family have used since Methuselah was in short pants, and they actually asked her to supply a copy of her passport – have you ever heard anything more ridiculous?”  (Well, yes – the Dome comes to mind.)  Depending on my mood, I either smile sweetly and butter my roll rather aggressively, or I launch into a defence of due diligence – which may explain my recent lack of invitations to elegant soirees.

No-one likes admin.  No-one likes having to fill in forms and take photocopies of documents and send them in.  But the alternative is surely unthinkable: doing nothing to check that people are who they say they are before allowing them access to the financial system and its services.  If you agree that something should be done, this leads to a discussion of where to draw the lines – precisely who should be asked for precisely what, and when.  And in the grand scheme of things, surely a copy of a passport and a recent utility bill* is not an onerous requirement.

* Quite what we are going to ask for once everyone pays all their household bills online, with statements sent by email only, I am not sure.  The current standard is that only bills received by post, on proper headed paper, are acceptable – but these will become rare beasties indeed.

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3 Responses to Give me a due diligence break

  1. Graham says:

    Hi Susan

    As a regular reader of your very enjoyable TaCL blog, I like the idea of this new blog. It will be nice to be able to leave the occasional comment.

    Like you, I will be interested to see what identity alternatives we will see in the future as paper bills are becoming somewhat of a rarity in my own life.

    I also think a lot of genuine frustration comes from the inconsistency seen between organisations. Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly with a risk based approach (rather than a one size fits all), I’ve recently had to submit identical product applications to four separate companies. At one end of the scale, minimal identity documentation was needed (although I’m sure they did some further background checks) whereas the worst (or best depending on your viewpoint) really went to town and seemed to want original details of just about everything possible (passport, birth certificate, utility bill, inside leg measurement etc) . Oh well, if these things were easy, there wouldn’t be so much to blog about !!

    Best of luck with the new site and keep up the good work.

  2. Hello Graham
    Welcome – and thank you for following the blog to this new location.
    You are right about the inconsistencies causing frustration. This also leads to misunderstandings about the actual requirements, as firms tell their clients “It’s not our fault – it’s the money laundering law” – as though the Regs tell them to get inside leg measurement, etc.! It’s an easy excuse for inflexible in-house procedures, and does nothing to endear the Regs to the public.

  3. Pingback: Although I would like a Secret Squirrel badge… | I hate money laundering

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