The Future of Forensic Technology
Parallel is a veteran Forensic Analytics recruitment firm. It’s a niche we jumped on in 2012 when regulation was extremely tight and every firm in FS needed consulting firms to go in and tackle issues. We had a large helping hand in putting together a team for a big four firm in London and replicated that in New York in the early part of 2016.
We also forged many relationships with specialist Forensic Firms and have played a key role in the assembling of their forensic analytics offerings. Of course, the current administration in the US has relaxed a lot of regulations which is a major issue. There have been major lay offs at well established companies and the growth of Forensic Analytics teams has stagnated in the last 18 months when de-regulation has started to take effect.
“Less regulation is damning for us. There are less assignments available but the same pool of vendors.” This, from a Senior Director of a very successful specialist firm is indicative of the industry at the moment. “Customers are less worried about what they are doing and they are pushing the boundaries of what’s allowed.”
Out of all the irregularities, AML is still a top priority for the banks and is continuing to subsidise any revenue loss for the consultancies. At the start of June 2019 FINRA dished out a $17M fine for one company because of their failure to stay up to date. “In particular, the regulator found the firm did not update its AML compliance systems to correspond with the firm’s rapid growth between 2006 and 2014, leaving the firm unable to properly prevent or detect, investigate and report suspicious activity.”
“In particular, the regulator found the firm did not update its AML compliance systems to correspond with the firm’s rapid growth between 2006 and 2014, leaving the firm unable to properly prevent or detect, investigate and report suspicious activity.”
So what does this mean for you as an analyst from a technical view point? In 2012 when we started placing Forensic candidates into companies, the standard skillset was SQL Server and the ability to do ETL. If you were coming from another consulting firm and could communicate well then you were a sure thing. Fast forward three years and a particular company had a preference for a statistical/mathematical PhD and strong Python.
In 2019 the landscape has changed further and now Python is almost a necessity. “You have to have Python to go with SQL. SQL will always be important but things have changed. Ideally you have experience in a transaction monitoring system but that won’t track the deeper crimes. You have to run a predictive model to get deeper”. Clearly the “Data Science” skillset is now a very attractive prospect for a hiring company. “if you really want to stay ahead then AWS or Azure are skills you should learn. That’s where I see this going, we will have to go that way. I’ve already seen it with other teams.”
The question is will big banks change their systems? Many of them still use SAS when free tools are now available. “I can’t see the big banks moving from things like Actimize or Mantas but they will overlay that with some sort of AI that can find out more things. We can pull data from Twitter, Facebook, you name it and you need to have the ability to derive from structured and unstructured data.”
In a period of uncertainty for the industry then It’s important to stay with the trends. You need to make yourself as valuable as you can as an analyst. Python is now an essential quality to have and if you can implement any advanced modelling techniques then companies will be vying for your services. There will always be space for relational database work but there are too many things you can pull data from. Oh yeah, and make sure you can explain it to the client in the simplest form.
Stay ahead of the curve…