Agents have been accused of doing 'not nearly enough' to report money laundering, according to a claim made by the government's anti-money laundering campaign.
Flag It Up a campaign first launched by the government in December 2015 - says that, based on evidence from the National Crime Agency, 'not nearly enough [agents] are reporting suspicious activity'.
The campaign recently published an A to Z, with 26 definitions of anti-money laundering jargon - from customer due diligence to reporting suspicious activity - which it claims will help agents understand the risks and signs of money laundering.
Accompanying the new guide was a statement from Flag It Up, saying that it is wrong to regard money laundering as a victimless crime.
"Not only is money laundering a crime itself, the dirty money which it seeks to clean could well be the proceeds of devastating crimes such as human trafficking, modern slavery, drugs trafficking, fraud or corruption," the statement read.
According to the National Crime Agency findings, agents submitted 'just' 710 suspicious activity reports between April 2017 and March 2018, despite the UK losing an estimated £37 billion per year through crimes enabled by money laundering.
Flag It Up says it is now working with property industry experts to increase awareness amongst estate agents, enabling them to flag up suspicious activity when it occurs and stop criminals from using dirty money to buy property.
Agents who fail to comply with money laundering regulations face serious penalties, such as being prevented from trading or even facing prosecution. Unlimited fines or a prison term of up to two years could be imposed, so it's something that agents need to treat very seriously.
In an industry where reputation and trust is everything, compliance is absolutely vital. As an agent, you must ensure that you play by the rules at all times and adhere to the anti-money laundering obligations you have.
To not do so would not only be damaging to your brand name and your clients, but to the industry as a whole which, as one which deals with large sums of money on a regular basis, needs to be hot on raising suspicious activity and the possible use of dirty cash even more than most.
As an agent, security and good practice when it comes to compliance should be key priorities. And having a highly secure property software system in place will help you to achieve that, giving you and your clients' peace of mind that nothing untoward is happening.
A secure system also prevents, or severely restricts, the chances of fraud, money laundering or other criminal activities being an issue.
Here at Gnomen, our property software offers military-grade security, fully backed up and 256-bit encrypted. What's more, our system is fully GDPR compliant, with processes and encryptions in place to ensure that your data is secure at all times.
The data is also backed up in several ways for added peace of mind, including offsite/co-located backups.
If you know the system you use is as safe and secure as it can be, this is one less thing to worry about and gives you more time to focus on the day-to-day, bread and butter of agency. This, in turn, increases the prospect of you expanding and enhancing your business.
It stands to reason that, if you can offer clients strong levels of security, data protection and safety while transacting (sometimes large volumes of) money, your reputation will be boosted and your chances of securing more instructions will go up.
As important as secure software is a secure, user-friendly website. It needs to be well-designed and include various features to appeal to those visiting. This could include an advanced property search facility, customer portals to allow you to win more instructions, offer 24/7 service and keep your clients updated at all times, and next generation tech such as free VR and video tours to enhance the viewing experience.
The customer portals, in particular, offer consumers the ease of access and regular updates they require. For landlords, this means streamlined property management with live accounts and updates, allowing for inspection reports to be uploaded, documents such as tenancy agreements to be shared securely, and a 'My Invoices' section to help them keep an eye on the finances.
Meanwhile, sellers can track the progress of their property sale in real time, as well as receiving viewing feedback, while tenants can report repairs online, pay their rent and view account statements.
To find out more about what we can do for you, and why our software and websites offer maximum security, please call 0208 123 9019 or book a free demo here.