KPMG LLP recently performed a survey 1 which highlighted that the financial services industry has the most extensive, and expensive, fraud burden of any industry sector in the Americas. This probably comes as no surprise after the uptick in fraud during the Covid pandemic. With a recession predicted for 2023, and with fraud often being a crime of opportunity, exacerbated by the economic climate, financial institutions face the situation getting worse before it gets better.
56% of financial services respondents expect the fraud threat from external actors to increase in the next year
Financial institutions are aware of the challenges they face in managing fraud. Fraud, after all, is a risk of doing business as a financial services firm. Whether you’re a retail institution offering checking, savings, and credit card products; an insurance company offering policies on assets; or a firm offering loans to individuals and businesses – financial products inherently carry the risk of fraud. However, what has changed for these firms is the fraud landscape:
The pandemic drove a lot of business and personal transaction activity online. Face to face transactions pivoted to virtual payment options and increased the need for delivery of goods and services. This shift resulted in more consumers providing companies with personal identifiable information (PII) to obtain such, either online or through newly established eCommerce capabilities.
New digital payment types (e.g., “tap and go”, Zelle, Venmo) opened additional avenues of risk through increased transaction speeds and the opportunity to steal payment information. Moreover, cryptocurrency has allowed for greater payment anonymity and is a widely unregulated space. These factors have made these payment types attractive to criminals. Financial institutions are faced with an increased exposure to fraud losses given the regulatory perspective on digital payment liability.
Internal pressures, heightened by the possibility of a recession, add to these challenges. Fraud risk management and Fraud operations are cost overheads, targeted at saving the financial institution from fraud losses. Technology in these programs do not typically receive increased investment or enhancements leaving legacy processes unchanged unless external pressures force the matter. As a recession looms, fraud teams across the industry will be expected to continue to minimize fraud losses while keeping operating costs low, potentially even reducing their overheads. The prospect of reducing the costs of operating a fraud program inherently increases fraud risk.
Successful Fraud Ready institutions establish processes that focus on how to react quickly to emerging threats and stand-up responses to these frauds without over governance and rules. A focus on rapid reaction protects their customers and their business lines.
To be effective at managing fraud risk, Fraud operations teams need to be nimble and Fraud risk management teams need to have made investments in establishing an effective fraud risk management program. They need to be able to identify fraud surges and fraud attacks earlier and be better at discerning who is a bad actor and who is a true customer (and in recent years this has become more challenging). These teams need to be prepared to react, leveraging skilled people, efficient and effective processes, emerging technology, and timely and accurate information. But equally important is the culture around which these programs operate. Leadership needs to set a tone at the top, one that stresses the need for the institution to be “fraud ready”. “Fraud Ready” means that an institution has the flexibility and processes in place to always be looking ahead for the next wave of fraud.
So how can financial institutions be more proactive? Better yet, how can organizations build a culture that aims to mitigate risk and be “fraud ready?”. KPMG’s Financial Services Fraud professionals have a well-established track record of helping Fraud risk management leaders and operations teams to proactively get to this state. Ranked as #1 for Most Authoritative Risk Firm, Quality of Risk Transformation, and First Choice Risk Advisory Firm to Work With, KPMG can assist our clients through:
Whether your institution is looking for assistance in enhancing a component of your Fraud program or wants to tackle the daunting task of overhauling your program to get to a “fraud ready” state, KPMG’s Fraud professionals can support you every step of the way while lowering your overheads and reducing your fraud losses.
Source: KPMG LLP, A triple threat across the Americas: KPMG 2022 Fraud Outlook (2022)