Accuity reflects on the impact of regulatory compliance in the Middle East

Accuity, the global standard for payment efficiency, bank counterparty insight and compliance solutions, reflects on the key trends facing the banking industry following its attendance at the recent  Sibos conference in Dubai. These trends were underpinned by the launch of its new brand – BankersAccuity, owned by Reed Business Information and part of Reed Elsevier that was reintroduced to the industry as Accuity during the event. Accuity Chief Executive Officer, Hugh Jones said, “Building on our strong heritage and brand equity established collectively over 175 years, we have rebranded as Accuity to position the company for the next phase of growth while assisting our customers with the regulatory challenges from trade finance to SEPA and sanctions compliance.”

One of Accuity’s main areas of focus, regulatory compliance, was a key theme of Sibos 2013, with the impact of regulation in the Middle East region playing a leading role in the conversation.

The Middle East region has a unique challenge in dealing with new and upcoming regulation, in that whilst being a major financial trading hub for many western banks, it also serves the needs of its regional banking partners. Many banking organisations in the region have participation in sanctioned countries, and there’s no regulation that prevents them from doing so. The Middle East-based banks have to delicately balance their own needs against servicing their regional bank neighbours, as well as their western counterparts. Further still, regulation introduces complexities in terms of the transparency that doing business with western banks require.

Trade finance often involves a complex web of individual players and holding organisations, and is moving up the regulatory agenda as organisations realise the importance of having to deal with compliance when operating in other less well regulated jurisdictions. Screening of imports and exports has therefore become a main area of focus for the trade finance industry, as organisations work to comply with international anti-money laundering and counterterrorist funding regulation in an increasingly complex environment. With Dubai and the wider Middle East region acting as a major international hub for trade finance, it has become an area of growing focus.

“Compliance has certainly received a lot of focus at this year’s Sibos,” commented Hugh Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Accuity. “With the resurgence of trade products, there is a renewed interest in how complicated it might be to better understand the vessels that are participating in the shipment of goods, as well as the nature of the goods that are in the cargo. There has been a scrutiny on dual-purpose goods, that if sent to the wrong country could be used for criminal purposes.”

“From a compliance discipline, emerging markets introduce different levels of complexity. At Accuity, we’re striving to assist firms in applying sufficient sanctions screening capabilities. Organisations need to overcome the considerable hurdles faced when regulatory sanctions lists and well-practised screening engines are designed with an expectation of encountering Roman characters.”

Another theme that came out of Sibos is the importance of SEPA, and as the end date nears – with just 120 days to go – firms are feeling the pressure to comply. Following an open theatre session by Accuity on the ‘SEPA end date: Gateway to Success’, it is clear that the implications of SEPA are more expansive than just the Eurozone and there is a lot of focus on making sure not only banks but corporates are SEPA ready. Changes on the horizon will affect any organisation that needs to transact across borders.

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