For the first time in 10 years, finance executives predict an uptick in technology spending in 2020, according to new Finance Key Issues research from The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HCKT). By accelerating cloud migration and the adoption of RPA, data visualization and advanced analytics solutions, finance is seeking to optimize cost efficiency while driving enterprise growth. Most finance executives expect to see an increase of 5-10% in the share of the finance operating budget dedicated to technology in 2020, the research found, despite a projected 3.4% decline in the overall budget.
Technology spend as a percentage of the finance budget has been flat or declining since 2009, but finance is prepared to make incremental investment to advance its digital transformation agenda. Our research shows that executives are setting aggressive year-over-year targets for digital technology adoption. At the end of 2019, our study respondents projected that in 2020 they would see a rise of 26% in the adoption of data visualization tools, 24% in RPA implementations, 20% in migration to next-gen cloud-based core finance applications, and an 18% increase in the adoption of advanced analytics solutions.
The research recommended that finance must go digital, faster, in order to support companies’ two biggest objectives for this year: Optimize the cost structure to become more agile in preparation for economic volatility and continue to invest in product and services innovation to maintain competitive advantage. For finance functions, that also means addressing internal cost inefficiencies and working with the business to identify and execute on revenue growth opportunities.
This research is available on a complimentary basis, with registration, at this link: http://go.poweredbyhackett.com/20keyfin1912sm. Note – The full research piece includes 10 charts containing nearly 60 complete metrics.
According to Jim O’Connor, North American Practice Leader, The Hackett Group, “Finance has an aggressive agenda for 2020, with analytics and technological advancement as the top two transformation priorities. Finance executives realize that in the intensely competitive digital economy companies cannot arbitrarily cut cost at the expense of sustainability. It is finance’s job to ensure intelligent cost reduction through smart automation and the use of analytics to help management decide where to cut and where to invest.
According to Nilly Essaides, Senior Research Director, Finance & EPM, The Hackett Group, “Without advanced analytics, management cannot make fully informed decisions, or make them quickly. So, there’s a tremendous need for finance to improve its data and analytics competencies, adopt new tools, and enhance the business value it provides directly.”
Finance’s transformation progress, however, faces several critical hurdles. The biggest is overcommitment, followed by skills deficiencies, capacity constraints, and technology and process complexity.
Because finance is asked to juggle multiple projects, the function must find ways to prioritize. Our research identified six critical development areas, defined as those with the largest gaps between the importance of its objectives and finance’s ability to deliver on business expectations. They are: redeploying capacity to value-added work; improving performance measurement; improving agility; aligning skills and talent with business needs; improving analytical capability; and leveraging new technologies. It’s imperative that finance organizations narrow these gaps, allowing them deliver value beyond lowering cost and transition into their new role as provider of actionable insight to support tactical and strategic management decisions.
The study found that finance must take a holistic approach to addressing its critical development areas across all elements of its service delivery model. Finance must be clear how services will be delivered, and must focus on improving human capital, according to Essaides. “The low prioritization finance has placed on human capital, including upskilling and reskilling of staff, is one of the most concerning elements of this year’s findings. It’s towards the bottom of the ranking of service delivery model elements and isn’t even on the top 10 list of finance key issues for 2020. This suggests that not only does finance need to address the skills needed for the future, but it must also clearly design how services will be executed along with defining both new and old roles within finance to deliver on business expectations. Finance must focus its attention in these areas, because without the right service delivery model, the right roles, people, and skills, even the best technologies will likely fail to produce the results.”
Many finance organizations are still in the early stages of digital transformation, and continue to rely heavily on legacy financial applications, the study found. However, such legacy systems have the lowest rate of meeting business expectations. Finance organizations are hoping to improve realization of business objectives of their technology investment through strong growth in adoption of next-generation cloud-based systems and RPA.
“Our data shows, for example, strong growth in the adoption of cloud-based core finance applications,” said Essaides. “And the encouraging news is that more than 70% of the finance function that have adopted cloud-based solution have been able to realize or exceed their business expectations.”
Looking ahead, The Hackett Group recommends that finance keep a keen focus on optimizing service delivery and addressing the skills gap that it is facing in order to support not only finance but also the enterprise. Driving cost efficiency and supporting growth strategies are the top priorities in 2020 for the enterprise. Finance has an opportunity to become more of a strategic advisor to support the enterprise growth strategies while also generating the expected cost efficiency improvements. This will require finance to prioritize building the right analytic capabilities, the right technology for efficiency improvement, and aligning skills and talents with business requirements.
The Hackett Group’s 2020 Finance Key Issues research, “Balancing Cost Reduction with Adding Value,” is based on results gathered from nearly 200 executives in finance, HR, IT, and procurement at a global set of midsized and large enterprises.
Defining Fraud in 2023
Scott Buchanan, Chief Marketing Officer at Forter
Fraudsters are fluid — they constantly experiment with new tactics to find cracks in a merchant’s defenses. In 2023, there are five trends that merchants need to be aware of — we saw each in 2022 and expect to see them with even more frequency in the year ahead.
Human ‘Bot’ Farms
First, let us acknowledge that while “human bots” is an oxymoron, it is also highly insensitive. At present, our industry lacks a better way of describing the practice. It used to be that human ‘bot’ farms referred to sweatshop-style arrangements in which poorly paid workers, often in developing countries, spent their days on brute force attacks, solving things like CAPTCHAs.
Now, though, a new twist on this old theme has arisen. In short, human bot farms use trafficked humans to scale their fraud operations. Often, they behave as bots, conducting brute force (and similar) attacks.
Human bots were widely recognised in fraud manager communities as a driving force behind recent repeated attacks, especially during the holiday rush. For example, human bot farms bombarded merchants that offer limited edition merchandise, decreasing the chances that prized products find their way to (and ultimately frustrating) good customers. These same operations also applied several tactics that follow at a scale that overwhelmed some fraud solution providers and their merchant customers.
Low-tech Address Manipulation
In the past year, fraudsters reverted to old tricks to circumnavigate rule-based fraud prevention as we saw an uptick in low-tech address manipulation. Consider a merchant with a rules set that checks a shipping or billing address against a negative list. And let’s say a noted fraudster has an address of 123 Main Street that is on that list. Therefore, any transaction with a shipping or billing address of 123 Main Street will be blocked by rules.
Fraudsters found an easy workaround. They simply write a variation of the address during checkout that evades the rules but can be easily understood by FedEx, UPS, or any other delivery company. For example, 123 Main Street becomes One-two-three Main Street or 123 Maain Street.
This should be simple to identify and block in theory. Still, fraud managers were frustrated that rules-based solutions — even those that applied artificial intelligence to speed rules application — struggled to spot this manipulation. During the Black Friday rush, more than one vendor threw up their hands and admitted they had no way to stop this tactic effectively. And as a result, fraud teams with these solutions had to manually review a growing queue of transactions.
With the growing presence of marketplaces to exchange goods, fraudsters are using triangulation more. Think about this as ‘stolen to order’ (instead of made to order). A fraudster posts a sought-after item for sale on a marketplace; in 2022, some of the most popular items for triangulation were high-end ‘cozy’ blankets, sneakers, gaming systems, and other electronics.
When a consumer buys an item from a fraudster on the marketplace, the fraudster then steals the item from a merchant. They input a shipping address for the marketplace buyer at checkout, which typically evades address verification checks. The marketplace buyer gets their item; the fraudster gets their money; the merchant gets penalised, and the marketplace is entirely unaware.
Fraudsters prefer triangulation because they don’t make any effort until they have a buyer — they never have to worry about stealing something they can’t sell, and they never have to touch the merchandise (further reducing their operating costs).
Emboldened cheaters are attempting more brazen tactics. A prime example of that is double-dipping — while this is not new, we did see more attempts (especially from amateurs and previously good consumers) to double-dip in 2022.
Double dipping can take any form where a bad actor wins twice. For example, the bad actor makes a purchase and has the product shipped. They tell the merchant the item was not received and simultaneously file a chargeback with their issuer. Since it may take hours or days for the issuer to inform the merchant of the refund request, the communication gap can mean the bad actor receives money back from both entities and keeps the product.
We’ve also heard examples of bad actors buying and receiving an item, then filing a return, yet failing to return the item. Instead, they send the merchant back a package with rocks (or something else weighted). In one particularly devious example, a bad actor filled a bag with dry ice, which evaded a weight check by the delivery company, and then arrived at the merchant as an empty package.
The best-known form of friendly fraud is chargeback fraud when a customer makes a purchase and receives it but files a fraud chargeback claiming that the purchase was made by a fraudster. This form of friendly fraud has been growing dramatically in recent years. Less recognised is that other forms of friendly fraud — which can also be labeled policy abuse — are increasingly serious.
For example, a consumer buys a sweater as a final sale. When it arrives at their doorstep, they realise it doesn’t fit as they’d hoped. Disappointed, the (previously good) consumer contacts the merchant to claim the sweater never arrived (code = Item Not Received) and demands a refund. The consumer now has the item they can wear (hey, at least the fit is close) or resell on a marketplace for profit.
Friendly fraud can also surface as returns abuse (returning items worn or outside of store policies), promotions abuse (re-using new customer discounts or other voucher codes), and more.
Friendly fraud is difficult to stop since it is often perpetrated by good consumers — they don’t appear on negative lists or fail basic rules. But professional fraudsters get in on the same acts, industrialising the consumer problem by increasing its scale and professionalism significantly. To increase their odds of success, they have gotten pretty systematic about this form of fraud. For example, on the dark web, fraudsters have shared the exact language to use when calling specific large merchants or issuers to nearly guarantee a refund or chargeback.
Parting Thought: The Power of Identity
The above tactics that fraudsters used with some success in the past year generally exploit gaps in rules-based systems (deployed by the merchant and/or offered by a fraud solution provider). These tactics don’t work when you can pinpoint the identity behind an interaction.
When you can be statistically confident that the identity entering an address of “One-two-three main street” is associated with fraud, it doesn’t matter what they enter in the address field; their transaction attempt is blocked. When a known fraudster is attempting to put an item up for sale on a marketplace or purchase an item with a net new shipping address, you stop them. And when they try to re-use promotional codes repeatedly, you reject the attempt.
You cannot pinpoint an identity with rules — instead, you need a massive graph of online identities and as much data as possible on each. While fraudsters always manipulate aspects of their identities, they cannot mask thousands of data points. Next-generation fraud solutions that use machine learning to augment human expertise can pattern match and pinpoint identity.
And to build the largest identity graph, you need a consortium of the largest merchants — collectively, they will ‘know’ the vast majority of online identities. And in this model, an identity — a bad actor or a good customer — known to one merchant is immediately known to all merchants.
And that is why the final trend for 2023 will be merchants abandoning rules-based systems at an increasing rate. That includes the rules-based fraud solution providers masquerading as machine learning (but really just speed up the application of rules). To combat more sophisticated fraudsters, merchants will make decisions based on identity. They will seek out the largest identity graph in order to achieve superior results.
Mizuho Bank Luxemburg upgrades anti-financial crime compliance risk management with Napier
Mizuho Trust and Banking (Luxembourg) S.A , the Luxembourg subsidiary of Japan’s Mizuho Trust & Banking division (part of Mizuho Financial Group) , is upgrading its Transaction Monitoring framework strategy through a partnership with Napier, the financial crime compliance technology specialist.
An intelligent compliance platform, Napier Continuum, including Transaction Monitoring, Client Screening, Perpetual Client Risk Assessment and Client Activity Review, will provide Mizuho Bank Luxemburg with a holistic overview of compliance that will enable it to connect data, control compliance operations, and manage risk.
The bank wanted to upgrade its framework to make it more robust given the importance of financial crime for credit institutions.
Naim Tliba, Chief Compliance Offer and Vice President at Mizuho Trust and Banking (Luxembourg) S.A., said: “We chose to work with Napier as it has the flexibility to meet our needs, at the same time offering the most advanced technology supported with powerful AI. With improved transaction and client monitoring capabilities, our organisation will be able to stay ahead of the curve and provide our clients with the most secure and regulated asset servicing experience.”
As part of Mizuho Financial Group, Mizuho Trust & Banking (Luxembourg) S.A. has been formed in 2000 and provides securities and fund services to its institutional clients.
Napier’s compliance technology helps businesses and financial institutions to comply with local and international anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, monitor transactions, and screen customer and business partners and therefore participate to the efforts to better combat financial crime.
Greg Watson, CEO at Napier, said: “Our range of new-breed compliance solutions help organisations like Mizuho Luxembourg to gain control over their risk management so that it can become a competitive advantage. The technology is one side of this, but it’s the capability to adapt a system in adherence with local regulations that offers the most effective solution, and that’s what we have been able to provide Mizuho Luxembourg. Approaching a system upgrade in this proactive way means that they will be equipped with a futureproofed anti-money laundering strategy that will take care of their AML compliance needs.”
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