Building an Effective Screening Solution for Capital Markets

3 mins

The world of capital markets, with its intricate web of transactions and diverse asset mix, is no stranger to the challenges posed by sanctions screening. In the dynamic landscape of global finance, the recent focus on Africa, particularly its civil wars and human rights violations, has brought forth a heightened need for robust screening systems in financial institutions.

Africa, a continent frequently targeted by sanctions, faces the complexities of rapid changes to sanctions lists and increased volumes. The financial unrest resulting from the likes of Joseph Mobutu's alleged transfer of up to $5,000 million underscores the critical role of frameworks and software in preventing such financial manoeuvres.

In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, particularly influenced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), sanctions screening takes centre stage. Extraterritorial sanctions wielded by the U.S. often find implementation through local organisations like the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) or AUSTRAC in Australia. Mapping sanctioned individuals to associated securities requires meticulous execution.

Addressing the complexities of Screening Sailing Beyond Challenges

Capital markets comes with a unique set of challenges, in the area of sanctions screening. From grappling with complex and rapidly changing sanctions lists, and data irregularities to ensuring real-time screening, the challenges are varied and unique. Let us look at some of core challenges:

  • Global Sanctions Complexity: Keeping up with the constantly evolving landscape of global sanctions and ensuring compliance with various lists maintained by different regulatory bodies.

  • Data Issues: Dealing with irregularities in data, including unreviewed client information and challenges in capturing certain types of data.

  • Real-Time Screening: The need for real-time screening against the latest sanctions lists throughout the life of a trade, especially in a dynamic and fast-paced trading environment.

  • Asset Diversity: Managing diverse assets, from single securities to complex structured products, and understanding intricate relationships for effective screening.

  • Operational Efficiency: Minimizing operational overhead associated with managing massive volumes of sanctions data, conducting pre-trade compliance checks, and responding swiftly to emerging geopolitical events.

  • Holistic Data Governance: Ensuring active engagement with external providers, resolving questionable data, maintaining access to historical data, and having a robust compliance engine to automate the screening process.

  • Continuous Testing: Implementing continuous testing against the latest sanctions to adapt to the changing regulatory environment and proactively identify and address potential risks.


The Rise of Next-Gen Screening Solutions: Sailing Beyond Challenges

Sanctions screening encounters a common hurdle – gaps and inconsistencies. Financial institutions often grapple with irregularities in their data, stemming from unreviewed client information, dispersed data across systems, or the inability to capture certain types of information. The right software should act as a vigilant navigator, effectively screening databases, payments, and transactions against sanctions lists, while adhering to the 'four eyes' rule.

Global sanctions are evolving dynamically, complicating manual screening processes for operations teams. The urgency to manage screening on a pre-trade basis is pushing many buy-side clients towards next-gen investment platforms. These platforms not only enable pre-trade compliance checks but also offer continuous testing against the latest sanctions throughout the life of a trade.

The Complex Asset Mix: Charting New Territories

Effective screening demands an understanding of intricate relationships for investment managers dealing with diverse assets, from single securities to complex structured products. Firms are increasingly seeking external partners equipped with technology to handle massive volumes of sanctions data, streamlining the screening process across trades and positions.

Data as a Service (DaaS): Anchoring with Scale and Expertise

The complexity of global events prompts firms to consider options like Data as a Service (DaaS). Partnering with external specialists on a global scale brings expertise and operational efficiency to oversight and governance processes. Real-time access, visibility, and transparency become achievable, fostering confidence in the screening process.

Holistic Data Governance: Navigating with Assurance

An effective screening process extends beyond real-time access. It involves active engagement with external providers, resolving questionable data, and maintaining access to historical data. The compliance engine of an investment platform becomes the captain, consuming the list of securities and automating the screening process.

Minimising Operational Overhead: Partnering for Success

The enormity of managing data and responding swiftly to emerging geopolitical events necessitates strategic partnerships. Buy-side firms are urged to collaborate with trusted partners, leveraging compliance and screening technology across the investment process. Systemised processes, robust controls, and audit trails ensure effective sanctions screening while minimising operational overhead.

In the vast ocean of capital markets, effective sanctions screening isn't just a necessity – it's the compass that guides financial institutions through the complexities of global finance. It's about safeguarding against risks, navigating with precision, and ensuring compliance becomes an integral part of the investment voyage.