Criminal record checks for jobs in the financial services industry


Obtaining work in the financial services sector can be very rewarding, which fact, in turn, means that the industry requires a high level of background checking. As a highly competitive economic sector, qualifications for applicants are necessary of the highest standard; the difference between a successful candidate and unsuccessful ones being very small indeed.

As well as these high standards of entry for applicants, the very nature of financial services also means that security is also extremely important for recruiters. As enormous sums of money can be transferred in microseconds, employers want to know that they are taking on honest and robust staff. For this reason, a reliable source of criminal record checks is as valuable to employers as a reputable university.

Fraud and Financial Services

Globally, fraud continues to be a major concern. This concern applies to law enforcement agencies – within and across national boundaries – and employers in a number of key industries. Top amongst those industries is financial services; in many ways, a lack of trust is the enemy for providers of these services, more so than for any other industry. If customers, clients, and business partners lose trust in institutions, they will very quickly withdraw their customs. As has proved obvious in recent years, once panic sets into the financial world, the consequences can be catastrophic and immediate.

While this may sound melodramatic, financial services providers feel they have a right to worry about fraud in their industry. Figures for 2018 show that, globally, occupational fraud costs the industry $7 billion; a figure which could destabilize many developing countries. Of this headline figure, 36% was due to corruption among employees; this figure rising to an astonishing 45% in the insurance industry.

COVID-19 Pandemic Leading to Demand for Stricter Checks

Lockdowns across all nations brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic have had a number of consequences. Among these have been a huge increase in remote working where possible. As the financial services industry has been one sector able to make use of this practice, large proportions of employees have been working from home. One downside to this has been a subsequent rise in the opportunities for fraud.

With the best will in the world, not being able to carry out security checks face to face with an actual human being introduces an increased element of risk. There are well-documented stories of individuals being defrauded of their savings; however, for institutions, the risk of fraud increases their exposure to reputational damage. Leading financial services providers such as Deloitte are implementing policies to combat this risk.

UK Disclosure and Barring Service Checks

In the UK, which remains one of the global hubs for recruitment in financial services, criminal record checking is carried out by the Home Office under the title of the Disclosure and Barring Service. As a leading employer with a long-established history in this industry,
guidelines are extremely well delineated. What employers are entitled to ask, and what they are not, is defined in law and obtainable for applicants to work in any industry. In accordance with recent GDPR data protection regulations, government guidance also refers to exactly how personal information is stored, who can access it, and for how long.

In broad terms, the UK’s own criminal records checks are in line with those of most developed countries; there is guidance on how to apply for work abroad. However, in common with most other nations, UK nationals will be subject to a higher level of checks for work within the country. This is because personal records and histories are available to UK agencies alone. This situation illustrates why internationally recognized criminal record checks necessarily cover a limited number of convictions and situations.

ACRO and Police Certificates

In many countries, a criminal records check results in a Police Certificate. This document will be required when applying for a visa to visit certain countries; for those applying to work rather than visit, a valid police certificate will be absolutely vital. However, it should be remembered that police forces from different countries share information with each other for a specified number of reasons. Quite often, these will relate to organized crime, terrorism, or specific offenses against the person, such as rape or child abuse.

As the situation is complicated, for those seeking a clear criminal record check/police certificate in areas that do not meet these requirements, obtaining a trusted check from a third party is often the best course of action. As financial services is a tertiary industry that does not necessarily involve personal contact, a large number of job applicants follow this route.

The types of offenses and personal histories which will be important to financial services institutions are verifiable internationally, more so in today’s globally connected marketplace than ever before. Once obtained, clearance proved by a method such as ACRO will serve as a portable international criminal record check for work in this sector.

Obtaining Clearance for Work in Financial Services

Being able to obtain clearance for employment in other countries can be extremely important for those working in the financial services industry. By its very nature, this sector needs to be flexible, responding to global changes in markets in a number of ways. For example, one consequence of Brexit is widely thought to be a change in location of the financial “heart” of Europe from London to Frankfurt. This being the case, being able to physically relocate from one city to the other could dramatically increase the employability of an individual worker.

While most developed nations have internal security checks in place for jobs in specific industries such as child care, most rely on internationally recognized background checks for workers in tertiary industries such as financial services. For this reason, having an updo date status as the ACRO provided by CRB Direct could greatly increase the chances of employment; especially if being able to begin work on a particular date is essential to get the job.

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