Know your consultancy: EY’s FinCrime practice and the future of compliance

Be the frictionless provider of FinCrime services

Ron Giammarco, leader of EY Global FinCrime Managed Services, described EY’s foundational principles for the financial crime practice in both technology and business model terms, noting that the firm has been committed to making every new offering cloud-native, but still deployable on premises. EY’s FinCrime practice, which was established 20 years ago, generates $1 billion in annual revenue, and there are over 30 clients on the firm’s FinCrime technology platform. To further its business, EY is determined to own the technology ecosystem, including all the intellectual property within the practice and every aspect of the relationship with clients.

In Giammarco’s view, EY should provide “frictionless” experiences for clients using its different platforms and solutions, with EY smoothing out any underlying technology or partnering issues. To offer those platforms, Giammarco noted, the firm has decided to acquire and partner as much as possible, building assets internally only when needed. In TBR’s view, these foundational principles reflect a shift in EY’s approach to technology and the firm’s overall ecosystem.

Embracing the business model shift and the substantial financial investment needed to be a technology company — at least to the degree EY is now — requires reorienting around the current competitive and partnership landscape, not the more siloed and opaque environment of several years ago, when digital transformation emerged as a challenge to the traditional consulting business model. Among the significant changes, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and SAS now list EY’s offerings within their own services catalogs, and EY expects those partners to not only provide technology support but also engage in sales efforts and the onboarding of new clients.

EY’s differentiation: Expertise, discipline and global standards

Within this changed competitive and partnering environment, EY has been challenged to differentiate from peers, an effort TBR has tracked across Strategy and Transactions, Blockchain and other EY practices. For Nic Bastable, leader of EY Global Financial Crime Managed Services Delivery, the firm’s uniqueness has coalesced around three main characteristics. First, EY has developed deep domain expertise, which continues to evolve. Bastable explained that every FinCrime interaction, even through a managed services arrangement, has eventually led to an analyst helping a bank make a financial crime risk decision, which has involved more than just following simple procedures.

EY has invested in its professionals, building career tracks for FinCrime analysts and providing ongoing training, which led the firm to have, in Bastable’s opinion, differentiated expertise. Second, within the complex environment of helping banks make decisions about risk, EY has exhibited tight operational controls — essential at the global scale of EY’s services and to meet clients’ needs. Third, over years of providing FinCrime services, EY has created a global standard operating model, distilling best practices from dozens of engagements, by thousands of professionals, across more than a million events. Underlying all this, according to Bastable, EY brought automation and efficiency to the firm’s operations and delivery, further differentiating the value of EY’s services.

In TBR’s view, while each of the core elements of EY’s FinCrime practice does not separate the firm from specialists or niche services providers, the combination, particularly with global reach and substantial scale, gives the firm a compelling story. Overall, EY’s FinCrime practice does not depend on setting itself apart from peers, especially as professional services firms rarely differentiate from one another; instead, EY succeeds through solidifying trust by offering domain depth and delivering.

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