Terms Beginning With 'a'

Anti Money Laundering (AML)

What is Anti-Money Laundering (AML)?

Anti-money laundering (AML) encompasses laws, regulations, procedures, and policies meant to discourage violators from indulging in financial crimes and money laundering activities. AML is incorporated within the system of national and local government with an aim to monitor a potential violator or fraudulent activities.

Countries have different AML policies which have to be followed by the companies. To ensure compliance with AML regulations, organisations have created AML department to address non-compliance. Non-compliance often leads to government scrutiny.

What is the objective of Anti-Money Laundering?

Criminals attempt to introduce illicit money into the financial system and hide the sources of illicit funds. Anti-money laundering aims to deter such criminal activities and detects the true source of the funds.

AML is generally employed by the compliance, legal, and financial sectors to introduce or develop control systems that an organisation should implement with an aim to identify and then stop the activities which can result in money laundering.

The need for AML policies and procedures leveraged as customers have moved to online products and services. Since the products and services are exchanged through online platforms, it has become easy for the violators to introduce illegitimate money into the system. If an organisation complies with the stated AML guidelines, the chances of money laundering can be reduced significantly.

AML regulatory benefits are not only limited to money laundering minimisation but also help the organisation to undertake its operations in an effective and efficient manner. It has become a minimum requirement to follow the AML practices to commence business activities at the global level. Compliance with AML regulations is mandatory for all organisations. The banking and FinTech sectors have to strictly follow the same, otherwise, hefty penalties are lived on them by regulatory bodies. RegTech (Regulatory Technology) and compliance officers are deployed to ensure that institutions meet the regulatory requirements and create a positive image in the open market.

How is Money laundering done?

Money laundering stands for the methods which are used to legalise the funds which have been obtained from illegal activities. By money laundering, violators aims at hiding the crime and source of funds.

A study by Teichmann (2017) indicated that raw diamonds, jewelery, gold, real estate projects, art, antiquities, banks of Dubai, Mergers and acquisition, consulting firms, currency exchange, private cash, and deposit boxes are the major methods employed for money laundering.

To identify the money laundering sources and minimise its negative impact, AML regulations are introduced for global, national, and local regulators. These regulations keep on evolving as per the changing trend of fraudulent activities. To illustrate: AML regulations were changed in 2020 because the cases of fraudulent activities increased significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the process of Money Laundering?

Money laundering is undertaken to convert a large amount of illegal funds into clean money. Significant amount of risk is involved in the process as banks have to report to regulators when a large transaction takes place or other suspicious activity is observed. Therefore, a procedure is adopted by criminals to enter the illegal cash into the banking system. Chiefly, three steps are adopted, that is, Placement, layering, and integration.

  • Placement: The cash is introduced into the financial system through different methods.
  • Layering: The source of cash is concealed by conducting numerous transactions and each layer has a legal participation.
  • Integration: It is the final stage in which the criminal withdraws the clean money and utilises the same for different purposes.

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There are various techniques to launder money. For example, an organisation manipulates (inflate) its financial records and the balance is used for introducing funds in the system.

What are the techniques of Anti-Money Laundering?

Numerous procedures are introduced by regulators to achieve AML goals and they have to follow the stated procedures.

The United Nation Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) specifies the techniques and procedures to be adopted by the organisations to spot and prevent transactional crime like money laundering. Furthermore, commitment to UNODC includes the adoption of frameworks for law cooperation, and legal assistance. It also focuses on the technical assistance and training for upgrading the capacity of regulators.

  • Know-your-customer is incorporated by the organisations to prevent money laundering. It involves learning about the customers and continuously monitoring their financial activities. On the basis of the evaluation of financial behaviour, red flags are raised when a deviation is observed in the behaviour of the customer. Non-compliance with the KYC norms results in financial terrorism and hefty penalties by the regulators.
  • Financial institutions keep records of all the transactions and combined them with the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify suspicious activity. Softwares have the potential to categorise the customers on the basis of suspicious activities and the actions are taken accordingly. Furthermore, technological development, like integration of big data, AI, or integration of AI, and Blockchain technology, helps in identifying suspicious activities at the integration stage.
  • Many banks have the policy of holding period, that is, banks hold the money for a specified time (usually 5 days). The holding period allows banking institutions to tackle the risk of money laundering.

How to design a corporate AML Compliance Program?

An organisation can create a compliance program, which will help to identify and evaluate impending risks and legal obligations a company is exposed to. A compliance program should be designed on the basis of following 4 foundation blocks.

  • Designated Compliance executive: An experienced compliance officer should be appointed, who will have the authority to supervise effectively the execution of AML policies in a company. The Officer should have the capability to effectively communicate with management and auditors. The AML policy recommendations required to make the process more effectively and de-risk the company.
  • Regular review of AML processes: The Anti-Money Laundering program should regularly evaluate the company’s policies and procedures to ensure AML program is effective. The company should make its employees aware of their roles and responsibilities for them to adhere to compliance and follow proper business due diligence process.
  • Awareness of AML procedures to Employees: Organisations should provide tailored training to employees whose work requires heavy compliance adherence. Working knowledge of AML processes by employees is a necessity for the compliance program to run effectively. Every amendment should be duly communicated to employees. Maintaining a log of training provided also helps in creating a sound AML compliance program.
  • Third-party Audits: An organisation should engage a qualified and experienced third-party company to evaluate the AML compliance program yearly. However, companies operating in high-risk areas should evaluate their AML compliance program more frequently.

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

Condition in which potential loss from the risk is not enough to spend money on it to avoid the risk. Such cases emerge when the risk is either too less or very unlikely to occur.  

What is accounts payable? Accounts Payable (AP) is an obligation that an individual or a company has to fulfill for purchasing goods and services bought from their suppliers and vendors. AP refers to the amount that is not paid upfront and can be paid back in a short period of time. Hence, a good or a service purchased on credit to be paid in a short period will fall under AP. For individuals, AP may include the bill paid after availing services such as television network, electricity, internet connection, or telephone. Most of the time, the bill is generated after the designated billing period, depending upon the amount of consumption. The customers have to pay this obligation within a stipulated time to avoid default. What is accounts payable from a Company’s point of View? AP is the amount of money a company is liable to pay to its suppliers or vendors and clear dues for purchases of goods and services purchased from its suppliers or vendors. AP is required to be repaid in a short period, depending on the relationship with suppliers. It is essentially a kind of short-term debt, which is necessary to honour to prevent default. As the current liabilities of the company, AP is required to be settled over the next twelve months. It is presented in the balance sheet as the account payable balance. For example, Entity A buys goods from Entity B for US$400,000.00 on Credit. Entity A has to pay back this amount within 60 days. Entity A will record US$400,000.00 as AP while Entity B will record the same amount as Account receivable. AP is also a part of the cash flow statement. The change in the total AP over a period is shown in the cash flow statement, hence it is part of the company’s working capital. It is widely used in analysing the cash flow of the business and cash flow trends over a period. AP may also depict the bargaining power of the company with its vendor and suppliers. A vendor or supplier may give the customer a longer credit period to settle the cash compared to other customers. The customer here is the company, which will incur AP after buying goods on credit from the vendor. There could be many reasons why the vendor is providing a more extended credit period to the firm such as long-term relationship, bargaining power of the firm, strategic needs of the vendor, the scale of goods or services. By maintaining a more extended repayment period to supplier and shorter cash realisation period from the customer, the company would be able to improve the working capital cycle and need funds to support the business-as-usual. However, prudent working capital management calls for not overtly stretching the payable days as it might lead to dissatisfaction of supplier. Also, investors tend to closely watch the payable days cycle to determine the financial health of the business. When the financial conditions of a firm deteriorate, the management tends to delay the payment to their suppliers. Why accounts payable is an important part of Balance sheet and Cash Flow Statement? As inferred from the previous paragraphs, AP is part of the current liabilities of the balance sheet. This is an obligatory debt that has to be paid back within a time frame so that the company does not default. AP primarily consists of payments to be made to suppliers. If AP keeps on increasing over a period of time, it can be said that the company is purchasing goods or services on credit more, instead of paying up front. If AP decreases, it means the company is reducing its previous debts more than it is buying goods on credit. Managing AP is essential to have a stable cash flow. In a cash flow statement prepared through an indirect method, the net difference in AP is shown under cash flow from operating activities. The business entity can use AP to create the desired variation in the cash flow to some extent. For example, to increase cash reserves, management can increase the duration of paying back the credit taken for a certain period, thus affecting the net difference in AP. What Is the Role of Accounts Payable Department? Every company has an accounts payable department and the size and structure depend upon how big or small the enterprise is. The AP department is formed based on the estimated number of suppliers, vendors, and service providers the company is expected to interact with; the amount of payment volume that would be processed in a given period of time; and the nature of reports that a management will require. For example, a tiny firm with a low volume of purchase transactions may require a simple or a basic accounts payable process.  However, a medium or a large enterprise may have a accounts payable department that may require a set of practices to be followed before paying back the credit. What is the Accounts Payable Process? Guidelines or a process is important as it provides transparency and smoothness in facilitating the volume of transactions in any time period.  The process involves: Bill receipt: when goods were bought, a bill records the quantity of goods received and the amount that needs to be paid to the vendors. Assessing the bill details: to ensure that the bill or invoice copy includes the name of the vendor, authorization, date of the purchase made and to verify the requirements regarding the purchase order. Updating book of records after the bill is collected: Ledger accounts need to be revised on the basis of bills received. The department makes an expense entry after taking approval from management. Timely payment processing: the department takes care of all payments that need to be processed on or before their due date as mentioned on a bill. The department prepares and verifies all the required documents. All details entered on the cheque along with bank account details of the vendor, payment vouchers, the purchase order, and the original bill and purchase order are scrutinized. The department also takes care of the safety of the company’s cash and assets and prevents: reimbursing a fake invoice reimbursing an incorrect invoice making double payment of the same vendor invoice Apart from making supplier payments, AP departments also takes care of travel expenses, making internal payments, maintaining records of vendor payments, and reducing costs Business Travel Expenses: Bigger entities or firms whose business nature requires all personnel to travel, have their AP department manage their travel costs. The AP department manages the personnel’s travel by making advance payments to travel companies including airlines and car rentals and making hotel reservations. An account payable department may also deals with requests and fund distribution to cover travel costs. After business travel, AP may also be responsible for settling funds supplied versus actual funds spent. Internal Payments: The Accounts Payable department takes care of internal reimbursement payments distribution, controlling and petty cash controlling and administering, and controlling sales tax exemption certificates distribution. Internal reimbursement payments include receipts or both substantiate reimbursement requests. Petty cash controlling and administering includes petty expenses such as out-of-pocket office supplies or miscellaneous postage, company meeting lunch. Sales tax exemption certificates comprise AP department handling sales tax exemption certificates supply to managers to make sure qualifying business purchases excludes sales tax expense. Maintaining Records of Vendor Payments: Accounts Payable maintains information of vendor contact, terms of payment and information of Internal Revenue Service W-9 either manually or on a computer database. The AP department lets management know through reports on how much the business owes at present. Other Functions: The accounts payable department is also responsible to lessen costs by identifying cost structures and creating strategies to reduce the spending of business money. For example, minimising cost by making payment of the invoice within a discount period. The AP department also acts as a direct point of contact between an entity and the vendor. How to Calculate Accounts Payable in Financial Modelling Financial modelling enables calculating the average number of days a company takes to make bill payments. AP days can be calculated using the following formula: AP value can be calculated using the following formula: What is accounts payable turnover ratio? AP turnover ratio shows the capability of a firm to pay cash to its customer after credit purchases. It is counted as an essential ratio to analyse the cash management attribute of the firm and its relationship with vendors or suppliers. It is calculated by dividing purchases by average AP. Purchases by the company are calculated as the sum of the cost of sales and net inventory in a given period: Now let’s understand this with the help of an example. Let us suppose, Cost of sales of Company XYZ for the period was $60,000, and XYZ began with inventories worth $21000 and ended at $15000. AP at the beginning was $20000, and $15000 at the end. Now the purchases will be $66000 (60000+21000-15000). The average AP will be $17500. Therefore, the AP turnover ratio will be 3.77x. Dividing the number of weeks in a year by the AP turnover ratio will give the number of weeks the company takes on average to settle its payables. In this case, it will be around 13.8 weeks (52/3.77). What is the difference between Accounts Payable vs. Trade Payables? Though the phrases "accounts payable" and "trade payables" are used interchangeably, the phrases have slight differences. Trade payables is the cash that a company is obligated to pay to its vendors for goods and supplies which are part of the inventory. Accounts payable include all of the short-term debts or obligations of a company.

Darvas Box system Every great trader/investor in the history of the markets had a specific method to approach the markets, which eventually led them to create a good fortune, Darvas Box system is one such method. It is a trend following strategy developed by Nicholas Darvas in the 1950s to identify stocks for good upside potential. This is one of the few methods to trade the markets which uses the combination of both the technical analysis and fundamental analysis for a much more refined decision.  The fundamentals were used to identify the stocks, and technical analysis was used to time the entry and exits. Who was Nicholas Darvas? Nicholas Darvas was arguably one of the greatest stock traders/investors during 1950s – 1960s, but surprisingly he was a ball dancer by profession and not a professional stock trader. Even while trading and building his fortune, he was on a world tour for his performances in many countries and took up trading as a part-time job. In November 1952 he was invited to a Toronto Nightclub for which he received an unusual proposition of getting paid in shares by the club owners. At that time, all he knew was there is something called stocks which moves up and down in value, that’s it. He accepted the offer and received 6k shares of a Canadian mining company Brilund at 60 cents per share, with the condition that if the stock falls below this price within six months, then the owners would make up the difference. This was the introduction of a professional ball dancer to the stock market. Nicholas Darvas couldn’t perform at the club, so he bought those shares as a gesture. Within two months, Brilund touched $1.9, and his initial investment of $3000 turned to $11400, netting in almost three times of his investment. This triggered a curiosity into the stock markets, and he started to explore trading. Origin of the Darvas Box theory Initially, he was trading on his broker’s recommendation, tips from wealthy businessmen, he even approached some advisory services or any source that he could get his hands on for the tips, but all led him to losses. After losing a lot of money, he decided to develop his own theory, and after a lot of trial and error, his observations and continuous refinements he eventually invented his theory “The Box Theory”. So what exactly is the Box Theory? Fundamentals Analysis As stated earlier, the box theory uses a judicious bend of both the technical and fundamentals. Darvas believed that in order to spot a good stock or even a multibagger, there should be something brewing up in the respective sector as a whole or some major fundamental change in that specific company. Generally, the fundamentals that Darvas used to study were on a broader sector level, and not the company-specific fundamentals. Even for the specific company Darvas used to look from a general perspective like, is the company launching a new product which could be a blockbuster hit. He completely refrained from looking at numbers and financial statements as his initial experiment with ratios and financial statements didn’t yield any good result. To know more on the three financial statements read: Income Statement (P&L) Balance Sheet Cash Flow Statement Technical Analysis Darvas was a big believer in price action and volume of the stock. He believed if some major fundamental changes were to take place in a company, this soon shows up in the stock price and its volume of trading as more people get interested in buying or selling the stock. With his observations here realized by just observing the price action, he can participate in the rally which gets triggered by some major fundamental development without actually knowing about the change. Using the box theory, Darvas used to scan stocks based on rising volume as he needed mass participation in the rally. Also, he only picked up those stocks that were already rising. His theory is all about “buy high, sell higher” instead of the conventional belief of “buy low, sell high”. After the stock satisfies both the parameters of increasing price and volume with major underlying fundamental change, Darvas looks to enter the stock. Good read on momentum trading. How and where to enter? Major part of the box theory is based on entry and exit levels. To enter a stock, Darvas looked for a consolidation phase preceded by a rally. A consolidation phase is the price action wherein the price moves up and down in a tight range, that is, a non-directional move. He would then mark the high and low of the consolidation phase with the horizontal line, essentially making it a box-like structure, hence the name “Box Theory”. The high point is called the ceiling, and low is called the floor. Whenever the stocks break above the ceiling, Darvas would look to buy one tick above the ceiling with one tick below floor as a stop-loss point. Pyramiding Darvas discovered early on, in order to become successful in the market your winning bets should yield much more profit than the loss in the losing bets. This led him to do pyramiding in his winning trade, which is clearly defined in the box theory. Pyramiding means to increase the existing position if the stock is going in the favour, which leads to a much higher profit in the winning trades. According to the box theory, the repetition of the entry criterion is the new signal for adding onto the existing position. In other words, after a position, if the stocks stage the same setup, that is, a consolidation after a rally, then the break above the ceiling of this new box would signal to increase position with the revised stop loss of 1 tick below the new floor. In any case, whenever the stock falls below the current floor, the entire position would we sold off at once. This is the only exit condition in the box theory, and there is no method of booking profit upfront as Darvas believed in holding on to a rising stock. The only way to book profit is to let the stock to take out the revised stop loss.

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