Fight fraud, not each other: The view from UK property industry experts


Panel headshots

In a recent panel discussion hosted by Thirdfort, industry leaders from Chestertons, Thomas Legal, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward and Leadenhall Law Group came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities in modernising property transactions. The focus of the discussion was on Secure share, which facilitates the sharing of Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) reports among various parties involved in property transactions.

Here's a summary of the key insights shared by the panelists.

The need for innovation

The panelists emphasised the need for innovation in the property transaction process, particularly in addressing the challenges posed by money laundering, fraud and terrorist financing that are enabled by technology. Increasingly criminals have access to technology which allows them to create deepfake videos, hack emails and mimic the voices of friends, family and colleagues.

Like every organisation, we had to do our risk assessment. Reassess what risks we face in terms of money laundering and terrorist financing. What we noticed is that, money laundering methodologies are the same as ever, but where they differ, they differ in scale. Now technology is available to fraudsters as well, not just to combat money laundering, but actually to use technology for fraud.”

Egita Cepurnaite, Head of AML compliance & MLRO, Chestertons

Shared standards across the property industry

A theme of the conversation was that historically there has been big differences in the standards applied by the different parties that operate within a property transaction as well as variations between firms. These can often be exploited by criminals.

Inevitably without Secure share, there would be slight differences, slight nuances between what different agencies ask for, and what they do and don't accept and similarly, very slight differences between what we might ask for, versus what the clients’ solicitor may be asking them for.

With the introduction of Secure share, what I really hope is that there would be a sort of “shared standard” between everybody. Which I think in turn avoids that inconsistency, and means that a client is going to start to understand that this is essential and it is very much required by everybody.”

Sydney Austin, Senior AML compliance officer, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

This was something that Will Coulter agreed with, not only in terms of helping estate agents and conveyancers to work more closely together but also making it easier for conveyancers to train their staff to help them spot the signs of fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.

If we're all on board and we're all using the same product that we know has the highest level of industry standards out there, then there's a much easier training element from an internal perspective to make sure that your risk controls are still in place.”

Will Coulter, Managing Director, Thomas Legal

Buying and selling is already a daunting process for a lot of individuals. You don't want to go over the same process to each provider and say, “This is me, I'm proving it's me”. It's easier to do it just the once and if that could be allowed to be shared beyond even conveyancers and the estate agents, I think that would really speed up the whole process for everyone. And also, will close any gaps in terms of fraud.

Egita Cepurnaite, Head of AML compliance & MLRO, Chestertons

The client experience

At the heart of Secure share is the principle that asking clients to complete the same checks over and over again creates a poor, disjointed experience. With Secure share this needless duplication is removed and the panel agreed that this would improve the overall client experience.

Clients appreciate not having to repeat the process and understand the benefit to them certainly from a time perspective.”

Nabil Shah, Head of Conveyancing, Leadenhall Law Group

New business opportunities

The estate agents and conveyancers on the panel agreed that the use of Secure share could help them to generate new business. From an agents perspective, this is because they can demonstrate to prospective clients that they are really thinking about and investing in creating the best experience for them.

What a lovely thing for us to be able to explain to our prospective clients early on, that we have chosen an AML provider, and there's this product called “Secure share” that has them and their user experience at its heart. And that we are as a business, choosing to invest the time and the money and the effort to make that really easy for them and to speed up their sale.”

Sydney Austin, Senior AML compliance officer, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

For conveyancers Secure share can help to boost referrals and improve working relationships with agents and other property professionals.

It signposts you as being best-in-class if you’re working with a provider like Thirdfort and you're the early adopters of the new innovative technology that is at the forefront of fighting fraud in the industry. And for us, we want to work with similar partners, similar introducers, be they agents or brokers, that hold the same high standards that we have.”

Will Coulter, Managing Director, Thomas Legal

Since starting to use Secure share, Leadenhall Law Group have started to see the new business opportunities it gives them.

It's attractive because it shows collaboration with stakeholders in the transaction and that common sharing facilities helps build that understanding. Certainly, from what we have seen it has benefited the idea that we're working collectively, we have a shared technology, shared reporting. We have experienced a definite uplift.”

Nabil Shah, Head of Conveyancing, Leadenhall Law Group

Want to hear the full discussion? The recording is now available on demand.

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