The financial services (FS) industry is very important to many economies around the world, from the developed to the developing. In the UK, for instance, 2020 saw FS generate £164.8 billion of GDP, or 8.6% of the country's wealth. In fast growing economies like India and Malaysia, financial services are given priority over traditional activities to a quite striking degree. It is no surprise, then, that demand for those qualified to work in FS is extremely high.
Back in the UK, meanwhile, London accounts for around half of the country's FS jobs. This situation may well change as a result of Brexit, meaning that financial experts are sure to be attracted to jobs elsewhere. While this is probably good news for job applicants, the fact is that this work attracts a high degree of scrutiny for applicants. Understandably, being able to move huge sums of money around is not something to be taken lightly. For this reason, FS job applicants will be subject to high levels of criminal record checking.
High Fraud Levels
The major reason FS workers are highly vetted is to avoid fraud. Recent figures show that $7 billion was lost to occupational fraud; i.e. that carried out by employees in FS businesses. The insurance industry seems to be particularly vulnerable to fraud, with 45% of losses coming at the hands of its own workers. While these figures are spread across a number of private companies, combined they give reason for national and international law enforcers to worry about their implications.
Part of the reason for this worry is that it's not only private companies who rely on financial services. Public bodies are responsible for huge amounts of taxpayers' money and other funds, and this has to be kept somewhere. As experience has shown, if those funds are used to invest on the markets, this puts them at great risk. Cases of stolen pension funds in particular have left many thousands of people facing a bleak financial future. When people lose trust in those looking after their money, this lack of confidence can have serious implications.
Stricter Checks Post-Covid
During the covid pandemic, millions of workers around the world were either ordered or advised to work from home. High among these were those in the FS professions. With secure internet connections, many of these jobs were and are perfectly possible to do remotely. Unfortunately, this practice led to an increase in the chances for people to commit financial fraud. It is perhaps, therefore, not surprising that the banking sector's voice has been the loudest in calling for a return to the office as soon as possible.
One particular way in which remote working can increase the chances of fraud is that of personal identification. Not only new applicants for jobs, but those already employed, could not fulfil the usual ID checks via Zoom or Teams. As financial fraud can be very damaging very quickly, those in charge of institutions faced the very real prospect of both financial and reputational damage due to unverified staff members.
Luckily for UK based FS employers, the country has a very robust and trusted criminal records checking system. This is sometimes referred to as a CRB check, although a more up to data acronym would be a DBS check. The former term refers to the Criminal Records Bureau which was the name of the central repository for criminal records across the whole of the UK. This collated records from all English, Scottish and Welsh police authorities; Northern Ireland had and has its own judicial system. It allowed any citizen or potential employer to see what was on a person's criminal record, under the right circumstances.
Since the 1st of December 20, however, criminal record checks in the UK have carried out by the Home Office's Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Checks are carried out on three levels; Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Basic checks are requested by individuals themselves, and only show unspent convictions. Standard and Enhanced Checks have to be requested by potential employers, and can only be granted if the job in question satisfied strict criteria. Only work with children and vulnerable groups will allow an employer to apply for Enhanced DBS checks.
Financial services work entails the Standard check, as these jobs constitute positions of trust. A Standard check shows all convictions, whether spent or not, plus any police cautions, reprimands or final warnings.