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A third of property professionals say they’re not AML compliant - research

The vast majority of property professionals would like to see HMRC act more proactively to deter money laundering, as almost a third believe their own AML compliance procedures wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

That’s according to findings from Credas Technologies, the anti-money laundering technology platform, in a survey of over 1,000 property professionals currently working within the industry.

It also found that less than a quarter said they utilised a professional company to handle their AML compliance. Meanwhile, over a third were unaware as to whether it was handled by a professional third party or in-house.


Given that nearly half (45%) of property professionals carry out their own AML checks, Credas argue that it is perhaps worrying that a third don’t believe their AML compliance would stand up to scrutiny by HMRC - with 13% of those to have stated so also believing it doesn’t matter as they don’t think they will ever come under fire.

Only 37% of property professionals, when asked about the importance of AML compliance in relation to other workplace goals such as performance targets and additional income opportunities, believed it was the most important. Some 23% stated that hitting their own personal performance targets was of greater importance, 14% prioritised securing additional earning opportunities such as commission on a sale, while 26% placed both factors above AML compliance in terms of importance. 

More promisingly, the research found that only 11% would intentionally turn a blind eye to AML compliance in order to hit performance targets or secure additional income opportunities, while 9% stated that they may do it unintentionally.

Only 11% of respondents said that with the cost of living increasing across the UK, a strain on personal finances may cause them to turn a blind eye to AML compliance in order to improve their own financial situation.

Credas says this pro-AML attitude from the industry suggests that operational strain is a far bigger factor when it comes to remaining completely AML compliant.

While most professionals might not view it as the most important thing, when asked about their attitudes towards AML, 44% believed they are the frontline in the fight against it, 43% think it’s a pain but appreciate why they need to do it, while just 12% don’t believe it should be their problem.

Further good news comes in the form of three quarters of property professionals having had some form of training when it comes to spotting potential money laundering warning signs. However, only 16% said this training was given by a professional AML company.

The vast majority of property professionals want to see more done to stop money laundering with 87% believing AML checks should be a legal requirement for homebuyers and sellers before they are even allowed to submit an offer or instruct an agent.

Meanwhile, nine in ten (90%) would also like to see HMRC be more proactive in helping the industry rather than ‘clamping down’ simply by issuing fines for non-compliance.

“There’s no doubt that the property industry is still finding its feet when it comes to complete AML compliance and it's telling that nearly a third of professionals within the sector don’t believe their AML compliance procedures would stand up to scrutiny from HMRC,” Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies, said.

However, it’s fair to say that this is down to a lack of resources rather than an anti-AML attitude, with many struggling under the workplace pressures caused by the pandemic property market boom.”

He said the in-house execution of AML checks ‘is no doubt adding’ to this workload and, when coupled with the sporadic level of training with regard to spotting money laundering warning signs, claimed that it’s hardly surprising the industry is crying out for help.

“The good news is that the majority of property professionals realise the important role they play in preventing money laundering via the sector and they would like to see more done to help them win this fight,” Barnett added.

“Unfortunately, this help is unlikely to come from HMRC or any legislative changes with regard to how buyers and sellers are qualified before they can enter the market, so utilising the help of an AML professional is the best way to reduce the burden and increase your AML effectiveness.”


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