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The power of human insight in sanctions screening – going beyond algorithms

Published on November 13, 2023 by Suresh Chavali

In the realm of sanctions screening, where accuracy is paramount, the human touch has power that algorithms are unable to replicate. At Acuity, we pride ourselves on championing this human-led approach, where each alert isn't just a notification, but an opportunity for thorough investigation and critical analysis.

The human advantage, step by step:

    1. In-depth investigation: When an alert is generated, it is more than just the beginning of a process; it is the beginning of meticulous investigation. Our experienced analysts dig deep into the details, unravelling the historical context of the transaction, individual, or entity involved.

    2. Contextual understanding: Context is key. While algorithms may flag a transaction due to keyword matches, human analysts discern whether the flagged entity is genuinely related to a sanctioned individual or whether it is a false positive. This contextual understanding prevents unnecessary disruptions to legitimate transactions.

    3. Behavioural analysis: Algorithms are blind to behavioural nuances. Did a customer's transaction pattern suddenly change? Is there a valid reason for it? Human analysts are adept at recognising these shifts and considering broader circumstances that may explain the change in behaviour.

    4. Cultural Fluency: Cultural differences could lead to misunderstandings in automated systems. A transaction that seems suspicious in one cultural context may be entirely normal in another. Human analysts bring cultural fluency, ensuring that judgment is made with a global perspective.

    5. Identifying tactics: Sanction evaders are constantly evolving their strategies. Algorithms struggle to keep up, but human experts are dynamic. They spot new evasion tactics and adapt their investigative methods accordingly, staying ahead of emerging risks.

    6. Balancing risk and benefit: While algorithms lean towards risk mitigation, human analysts understand the value of balancing risk and opportunity. They provide clients with insights into potential gains as well as threats, offering a holistic understanding to drive strategic decisions.

    7. Ethical and strategic analysis: Automated systems lack the ability to understand the ethical implications of actions. Human analysts consider the bigger picture – how actions align with a client's values and long-term strategies.

    8. Nuanced decision-making: Every case is unique. Human analysts have the judgment required to treat each case individually, weighing factors that automated systems may overlook.

How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help

The process is not just about alerts; it is about the thoughtful transformation of data into actionable insights. Our experts don't just decipher; they decode, analyse, and interpret, ensuring that decisions are not only compliant but also aligned with your business's goals.

The technological tools we employ provide the foundation, but it's the human element that constructs the intricate edifice of understanding. At Acuity, we believe in the power of human insight, the strength of historical knowledge, and the wisdom that can only come from years of experience.


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About the Author

Suresh Chavali has over 11 years of experience in compliance, having worked for various firms including Barclays and Deutsche Bank. His expertise spans across the risk and compliance sector, focusing on know your customer (KYC) and risk management. At Acuity Knowledge Partners he is responsible for Pre-sales and Product Management support to Compliance Services. Suresh has done his engineering from JNTU Hyderabad.

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