What is Financial Crime Risk Management (FCRM)?

Financial Crime Risk Management (FCRM) is a proactive approach to identifying, investigating, analyzing, and mitigating the risks associated with financial crime.

Encompassing an array of nefarious activities, from money laundering to tax fraud and cybercrimes, FCRM has become a vital strategy in our digital age, where cyber threats are not just shadowy figures in the background but palpable, urgent realities.

The stakes? Monumental.

The challenge? Herculean.

Yet, every company needs an effective FCRM strategy in place. It's not just a box to be ticked off in the long checklist of financial obligations. Rather, think of it as the keystone in the arch of financial integrity and security.

In this blog, we're not just skimming the surface. We're diving deep into the true meaning of financial crime risk management and demystifying how you can manage risks around money laundering, fraud, terrorist financing, and other shady activities.

What are examples of financial crimes?

PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey revealed that 51% of organizations experienced fraud in the past two years, which is the highest level in PwC’s 20 years of research.

But what types of financial crimes should companies be aware of and prepare for?

When we think of "financial crimes," our minds may jump to dramatic movie scenes of bank heists and Wall Street scams. But in reality, financial crimes cover a broad spectrum of illicit activities.

Some examples are:

Bribery and corruption

This involves trading bribes for influence in business or government decisions. It not only distorts fair trade but also erodes trust in governance and market systems.


The creation of fake financial instruments like currency or checks undermines the value of real money and shatters public confidence.

Money laundering

The process of making "dirty" money appear "clean" by funneling it through legitimate businesses and transactions. It allows criminals to enjoy their ill-gotten gains without raising suspicion.

Terrorist financing

A dire issue, involving the transfer of funds to support heinous terrorist acts, directly or indirectly.


A broad category encompassing various deceptive practices from identity theft to financial reporting manipulation, victimizing consumers, businesses, and governments alike.


A modern plague utilizing technology to steal or compromise data, funds, or identities, ranging from small-scale thefts to massive bank heists.

Sanctions evasion

Crafty methods to sidestep economic sanctions, facilitating illicit trade and supporting nefarious entities.

Market manipulation

The abuse of insider or confidential information to unfairly profit in the financial markets, from manipulating stock prices to spreading false news.

Insider trading

Trading based on non-public, insider information, skews the playing field against ordinary investors.

Tax fraud

JCW reports that 41% of organizations are particularly concerned about tax fraud, which usually involves illegally avoiding paying owed taxes by deliberately hiding income, lying about circumstances that affect liability, or taking other deceptive actions like false reporting.


The betrayal of trust by misappropriating funds, often seen in financial roles like accountancy.

Identity theft

Stealing personal information like names and social security numbers to access accounts, open fraudulent lines of credit, make unauthorized purchases, and steal funds. Often ruins victims’ finances and credit.

This lineup, though not exhaustive, paints a vivid picture of the multifaceted nature of financial crimes - a web of deceit, theft, and concealment, exploiting loopholes for illegal gain.

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Who commits financial crimes?

Financial crime can be committed by a wide range of individuals and groups, and it's not always the people you might expect.

Some possible perpetrators include:

Organized criminal groups: These are well-structured groups that plan large-scale financial crimes. They're often involved in complex schemes like money laundering or fraud.

Individual criminals: These can be lone hackers or individuals who have no direct ties to the organization they're targeting. They might use technology to steal money or data.

Employees: Sometimes, the people working inside an organization are the ones committing financial crimes. They might embezzle money, engage in fraudulent activities, or find other ways to illegally benefit at the company's expense.

Shady business leaders: In some cases, even high-level executives or board members might be involved in financial crimes, using their positions of power to manipulate financial data or engage in insider trading.

Regardless of who commits them, these crimes can have serious consequences for organizations, making it crucial for companies to have strong financial crime risk management practices in place.

What is a financial crime risk assessment?

With such a diverse array of potential financial crimes and criminals, how can institutions even begin getting a handle on their risks and vulnerabilities?

This is where a financial crime risk assessment comes into play.

A financial crime risk assessment is a detailed process to identify, analyze, and evaluate the firm’s exposures to money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, and other illegal activity.

It provides crucial visibility for leadership and boards into inherent risks, controls, incidents, and regulatory pressures.

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How to assess your company’s financial crime risk

By assessing various risk factors, organizations can determine where to allocate their limited resources to most effectively combat the highest priority threats. This multi-step process involves:

  • Cataloging laws and regulations: Understanding the legal landscape and ensuring compliance.
  • Reviewing existing measures: Assessing current policies and defenses against financial crime.
  • Financial analysis: Scanning financial statements for unusual patterns or indicators.
  • Evaluating changes and new risks: Considering how new products or expansions into new geographies might alter risk profiles.
  • Risk rating: Assessing inherent risk across different aspects of the business.
  • Surveying staff: Gaining valuable front-line perspectives from operations staff.
  • Intelligence gathering: Incorporating insights on the latest criminal methods.
  • Peer comparisons: Benchmarking against similar institutions to identify gaps or best practices.
  • Determining residual risk: Evaluating the remaining risk after current controls.

Assessing your company's financial crime risk is a crucial part of financial crime risk management. If you need a more guided approach, here's some steps you can take:

Step 1: Identify potential risks

Start by identifying financial risks in various areas of your business. This includes examining transactions, business relationships, and market trends for potential vulnerabilities.

Step 2: Conduct a supplier financial risk assessment

Evaluate the financial stability and integrity of your suppliers. This step is vital as it helps in identifying any risks that might arise from your business relationships.

Step 3: Perform a financial crime risk assessment

This involves a thorough examination of your business to identify areas susceptible to financial crimes. Look at past incidents, the nature of your transactions, and the types of financial crimes prevalent in your industry.

Step 4: Document and prioritize risks

After identifying potential risks, document them and prioritize them based on their potential impact on your organization.

By systematically assessing these areas, you can create a robust strategy for financial crime prevention.

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How to protect against financial crime

Financial institutions have a major responsibility in defending the integrity and stability of the global financial system. But with relentless threats from money launderers, fraudsters, and cybercriminals, where should they start?

While an exhaustive list would span pages, protective measures tend to focus on four key pillars:

1. Policies & procedures

  • Document risk assessment findings and translate them into comprehensive policies.
  • Detail risk-based procedures for client onboarding, transaction monitoring, reporting and training.
  • Update dynamically as financial crime compliance, regulations, and risks change.

2. Detection & monitoring

  • Leverage data analytics and AI to quickly identify suspicious behavior.
  • Tune monitoring rules and scenarios to the latest criminal methodologies.
  • CCTV, biometrics, and cybersecurity to deter threats.

3. Partnerships & intelligence

  • Share information on risks with industry peers and authorities.
  • Liaise public-private task forces to coordinate deterrence.
  • Incorporate third party cyber threat intelligence.
  • Screen vendors, clients, and staff through checks and due diligence.

4. Culture & governance

  • Set the tone from executives and board that compliance comes first.
  • Foster an ethical culture where employees feel safe raising issues.
  • Provide regular training tailored to roles on financial crime risks.
  • Establish clear accountability for risk decisions.

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The role of CFOs in FCRM

CFOs play a crucial role in Financial Crime Risk Management (FCRM). Their responsibilities include:

Ensuring financial security

CFOs are tasked with safeguarding the organization's financial assets against fraud, embezzlement, and other financial crimes. This involves overseeing financial systems, implementing effective controls, and ensuring the integrity of financial data.

Compliance oversight

They must ensure the organization complies with relevant financial crime laws and regulations. This involves staying updated on regulatory changes and ensuring the organization's policies and practices are in line with these regulations.

Strategic decision-making

CFOs are key in deciding which FCRM measures and systems to implement. They need to strategically balance risk management with operational efficiency, choosing solutions that protect the organization while supporting its business objectives.

Resource allocation

They determine the allocation of resources for FCRM initiatives, ensuring that adequate tools, technology, and personnel are available to mitigate financial crime risks.

In essence, CFOs are at the forefront of creating a culture of transparency and integrity, vital in preventing financial crimes.

FAQs: Financial Crime Risk Management (FCRM)

What is Financial Crime Risk Management (FCRM)?

TFCRM is the proactive approach to identifying, investigating, and mitigating the risks associated with financial crimes in an organization.

What is the Financial Crime Risk Management Program?

The Financial Crime Risk Management Program refers to a structured set of policies, procedures, and practices designed to identify, assess, monitor, and mitigate the risks of financial crimes in an organization.

What does a Financial Crime Manager do?

A Financial Crime Manager oversees the development and implementation of strategies to prevent financial crimes. They manage risk assessments, compliance, investigate suspicious activities, and ensure adherence to relevant laws and regulations.

How can technology be used in FCRM?

Technology, such as AI, machine learning, and data analytics, can be used for real-time monitoring, detection of suspicious activities, and efficient analysis of financial data.

What is the role of a CFO in FCRM?

CFOs are responsible for ensuring the organization's financial security, compliance with regulations, strategic decision-making in implementing FCRM measures, and allocating resources for FCRM initiatives.

What is an example of a Financial Crime Risk?

An example is the risk of money laundering through business transactions, where illegitimate funds are processed to appear legitimate.

What are Financial Crime Risk Principles?

These are guiding principles that shape how an organization approaches the prevention and management of financial crimes, including due diligence, ongoing monitoring, employee training, and compliance with legal and regulatory standards.

How often should financial crime risk assessments be conducted?

Risk assessments should be conducted regularly, with the frequency depending on the organization's size, complexity, and exposure to financial crime risks.