2020 saw landmark enforcement actions from regulators across Asia-Pacific as financial institutions across the region paid $5.1 billion in fines for anti-money laundering failures.
By March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had begun to grip economies, demonstrating the interconnectivity of the worldwide financial sector. The pandemic has wreaked extensive disruption to all businesses, and this is likely to continue well into 2021, with credit risks, insolvencies and unemployment all likely to increase.
Remote working and “on-off” lockdowns may continue for some time, forcing firms to interface with customers differently and to be flexible regarding the repayment of loans or other credit facilities. These developments may lead firms to identify new opportunities and seek alternatives ways of doing business. There is some evidence firms have been addressing compliance problems head-on and dealing with issues at an early stage, while balancing commercial initiatives with regulatory requirements.
Irrespective of size, jurisdiction or sector of their firm, compliance officers should consider the following in 2021:
1. Operational resilience — ensure continuity
2. Cyber security, data protection and anti-financial crime management
3. Anti-money laundering — highest-ever penalties in Asia
4. Consumer/investor protection
5. Digital transformation — balancing technological innovation with compliance imperatives
6. Regulatory reach and burden — understanding the regulatory focus
7. Accountability — resetting culture
8. Upskilling and training to meet technology requirements
9. Risk management agility and the growth of climate and ESG-related issues
10. Complaints and remediation
These 10 regulatory insights for Asia may help firms to think through the many challenges facing them, and to respond to the compliance and regulatory issues at hand.
To learn more about these challenges and how firms can prepare for them, download your copy of “ten things compliance officers in Asia-Pacific must do this year” expert talk, written by Niall Coburn, Senior Regulatory Intelligence Expert for Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence.
The temporary relief provided to firms by regulators is short-term, but the remote working and the pandemic hardships will continue to bring challenges for firms well into 2021. Regulators will expect firms to fully adapt their policies and procedures to deal with such risks.