Why KYC is critical for estate agents right now
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Latest research by TwentyCi reveals that the number of homemovers is now at its greatest level for over a decade and that purchase and rental prices are now also at record levels. However, whist this is great news for some – for others, such as estate agents this can be something of a double-edged sword.
Because of AML and KYC rules.
Given that the purchase of property has the potential to be used by criminals due to the large funds which can be transferred in a single transaction, it is imperative that agents understand the regulations they are required to abide by and carry out the relevant checks.
The government estimates that fraud of this kind in the UK can generate up to £24bn per year, and that is why agents are required to carry out adequate customer due diligence measures when carrying out estate agency work.
That means establishing and maintaining suitable policies and procedures on adequate record-keeping, internal controls or risk assessments, whilst ensuring that relevant employees are trained in how to recognise and deal with transactions and other activities potentially related to money laundering and fraud.
Checks should be made on the sellers, as well as the buyers, while letting agents should also report any suspicious activity.
However, spot and random checks by HMRC have uncovered agents failing to comply with money laundering regulations. Checks last year led to HMRC issuing hundreds of penalties to all sectors – including estate agency businesses – for failing to comply with the rules.
Research shows that there is a general lack of understanding among a high number of agents when it comes to money laundering regulations, with just 16% of agents surveyed last year stating that they had a comprehensive understanding of the rules.
With the number of moves on the rise it is critical that estate agents, now more than ever, know who they’re doing business with. For further information about how Halo can be used to bolster KYC compliance and keep a handle on your customer data please don’t hesitate to contact us.