Four top challenges financial services face this year: Applied Intelligence interview


To meet the growing demand for cyber security and financial crime prevention and detection, aerospace, defence and security firm Systems Detica, repositioned from 1st February 2014 as BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, plans to triple its staff by 2015 at its Malaysia hub, which serves the Asia Pacific region.

Computerworld Malaysia asked Richard Watson, managing director for Asia Pacific and Middle East Region for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence for his view on the immediate and long term challenges faced by financial services industry infosecurity heads in the region.


Richard_Watson modifiedPhoto - Richard Watson, Managing Director Asia Pacific and Middle East Region, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.

What are the top challenges you believe the financial services industry is facing this year?

In the context of continuing global market volatility, financial services institutions are grappling with the requirement to increase returns from existing customers, while strengthening their policies and processes to mitigate their risks and comply with regulation. BAE Systems Applied Intelligence helps financial services institutions manage their cyber and compliance risks.

I would point to four challenges, which ought to be the focus for these organisations in 2014.

  • Complying with new regulation and legislation efficiently - for example the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) comes into force in 2014 and a number of Anti Money Laundering (AML) obligations are evolving this year.
  • Improving the accuracy and efficiency of customer due diligence and processes surrounding trade-related risk.
  • Smarter fraud management - particularly through online or mobile e-channels where cardholders are not present.
  • Addressing the convergence of cyber security with more traditional forms of fraud.

According to a survey from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence division, spend on financial crime counter measures remains a priority for businesses globally.

The 'Financial Crime Survey 2013' reveals that investment by many global businesses in operational risk, anti-fraud and compliance solutions is increasing, as the threat of financial crime becomes more acute. Financial crime and compliance budgets are expected to be up across the board, with nearly half of all respondents predicting up to 20 percent more investment in all of the following areas: compliance (50 percent), fraud management (49 percent), AML (45 percent), tax and FATCA compliance (45 percent), and trade surveillance and compliance budgets (43 percent) over the next 12 months.

What issues, if any, are you encountering in expanding the Malaysia-based regional centre and how are you planning to overcome any talent gaps or skills shortage in the country?

Once we had selected Malaysia as the location for our Global Delivery Centre, many of the challenges were logistical ones - for example finding a building that has the right mix of space, the right location from a staff attractiveness viewpoint and the right security attributes. We have managed to do this and have a great building not far from KLCC. Similarly, the logistics of recruiting so many people so quickly had to be well managed so applicants had a good experience.  Six months on, I'm pleased to report all seems to be going well.

Our rapid expansion in Malaysia means we are committed to attracting and retaining the best and brightest graduates Malaysia has to offer. We recognise that we are recruiting in a competitive market place and continually review what we can do to make BAE Systems an inspiring place to work. In addition, we have put in place a structured approach to training our new recruits, so that they quickly become proficient in our technologies. As a result we are making good progress recruiting according to the plan we set out in 2013 and already have approximately 100 people working in the new regional centre.

Our story in Malaysia so far:

  • Malaysia has been BAE Systems' regional hub for cyber security since 2010
  • The company has recruited about 100 cyber specialists through 2013, and will continue to grow the Kuala Lumpur-based team to over 300 employees in the next 12 months or so, based in Menara Binjai, Ampang Park
  • BAE Systems and the capabilities within the Applied Intelligence division combine as the leading provider of protection in both the physical and virtual worlds, where the convergence of real world and online threats is putting nation states' Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) at ever greater risk from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks

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