"Financial crime is one of the many challenges facing all banking institutions. KPMG professionals make a difference by helping these organizations use technology to transform their defenses".

Joanne helps organizations in the financial sector strengthen their defenses against financial crime .

Meet Joanne Bonadio, Director in KPMG Australia’s Transformation and Program Management team. In this interview, Jo talks about threats to financial services organizations and how technology helps protect them.

What improvements can transformation bring?

Jo Bonadio: A lot of my work is in the area of Financial Crime Transformation. This is a high priority area for organizations as they face fraudsters that are getting more and more sophisticated.

The regulation in this area is becoming more complex too, resulting in new requirements that organizations need to meet.

Financial institutions need to continually monitor and prevent money laundering, fraud and other crimes. Historically, a lot of these processes include a manual component, such as an assessment or an investigation by an employee. Automation, strengthened processing, and smarter analysis of financial risk can help banks scale up and strengthen defenses.

The result is that KPMG professionals can help banks analyze large volumes of data to identify high-risk areas– such as customers with a higher risk profile or suspicious transactions. These can then be brought to the surface for further analysis.

For such a process to be effective, multiple workflows are transformed and connected across the customer journey – from the moment they open an account, all the way through to the different products and services they might use.

How do you help clients meet the particular challenges of large-scale transformation?

Jo Bonadio: The KPMG Australia Transformation and Program Management team is part of a broader cross-functional area helping organizations from the financial services sector in Australia, such as banks, insurers and asset management companies.

As these are usually large enterprises, holding not only vast financial assets but also huge pools of data across multiple systems, any transformation project is likely to be complex. Banks in particular are highly regulated and often have international operations in other jurisdictions.

In broad terms, KPMG professionals help clients transform their systems to arrive at a target operating model. This could include transforming their processes, the technology they use, their policies, their products, or the user experience.

It takes experts from across multiple service lines such as operations, data and cloud, technology, forensic accounting and many other specialisms to ensure we bring the right expertise and knowledge to our clients.

On a practical level, this involves assessing the existing state, agreeing the target operating model – and then moving there safely.

Joanne Bonadio
Joanne Bonadio

What role does tech play in these large-scale transformations?

Jo Bonadio: Technology solutions work ‘hand in glove’ with KPMG teams in this space. For example, KPMG Connected Enterprise come with target operating models – existing blueprints that have been designed by KPMG professionals working in a particular sector.

KPMG Australia professionals also works with KPMG Financial Crime specialists who are based in multiple member firms across the globe. From that we can draw on recent examples of relevant tech.

For example, KPMG in the UK offers services to help banking clients using managed services to process and manage large volumes of Know Your Customer (KYC) applications (onboarding) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD – ongoing). Technology is an enabler together with data to allow our clients to focus less on processing and more on the value add compliance – detecting criminal behavior and activity.

KPMG’s global network has alliances with key vendors in this space too, helping us to efficiently bring existing technology solutions to the client.

Does making a difference on these projects involve more than just technology?

Jo Bonadio: I don’t have a background in technology myself, being a ‘career banker’. I have previously worked for some of Australia’s largest banks, and this helps me to understand the experience from client’s perspective. I spent a lot of my career looking at change and transformation and I really enjoy this work to the point that I decided to make it my ‘trade’.

My KPMG role builds on this and helps me to look at transformation from multiple perspectives. I love the variety of being able to work on different clients and help resolve different challenges every day.

That said, KPMG firms employ thousands of technology professionals including cloud platform architects, software developers and UX designers who help drive the technology side of the execution phase.

What makes a transformation effort successful in your view?

Jo Bonadio: I feel that a baseline of trust is critical here – whether it’s client’s trust in the KPMG team they are working with, or their trust in the KPMG global brand as advisors in the business transformation field.

Each transformation project, especially large-scale ones, might feel like a journey into the unknown. For me, successful transformation means that the organization has evolved and that together we were able to extract a benefit from that evolution.

That benefit could materialize for the client in a number of ways – through market share, better feedback from customers or employees, financial saving and so on. But it’s important that the value of that change is measured.

Some of my projects take years to complete the transformation cycle and any tangible impact may take some time to materialize. So it’s important to have governance, cadence and open conversations about the end goal we are pursuing for the client.