PwC mobilises across the globe to quickly shore up a weak payments system

Early in 2014, a global financial services organisation suffered an operational issue when processing a payment. The incident proved to be prophetic; it highlighted a serious weakness in payment controls, governance and systems, which spanned 400 teams in 45 countries and had the potential to cause systemic contagion. PwC moved swiftly, using the strength, scale and agility of the international network to review and strengthen this complex operation by focusing on the organisation’s controls environment.

How did we add value? How did we get the client ready for change?

The operational error in the client’s payments programme raised the risk of a significant losses; it was clear that as well as remedying the immediate problem, the client needed a thorough and rapid review of its entire payments ecosystem, touching every function that initiated and processed payments across the organisation, from HR to Treasury.

We used a team of 62 consulting and assurance professionals in nine locations around the world, who worked together to review the entire estate, quickly assessing risk and addressing gaps. The review identified more than 50 critical gaps, as well as over 2,000 others that needed attention.

Using PwC’s payment controls standard – which contains 274 payment-specific operational and regulatory controls – we worked with the client to roll out our on-site assessment tools across the globe.

Nine assessment teams worked in parallel, sending in assessors to the client’s locations in Asia Pacific, EMEA and the US, using local PwC professionals. All worked with the same method, tools and controls standard, managed by a central team in London. Our teams carried out more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews with client staff in five languages, explaining the controls standard and methodology and making sure that payment controls became a priority across the organisation.

How did we help the client stand out for the right reasons?

The immediate review of payment-related controls greatly reduced the risk of payment incidents and the potential for a substantial loss. We were able to introduce a common understanding across the organisation of where the high-risk gaps were, and then strengthen the control environment in every location.

As well as greatly improving the client’s governance and controls and significantly reducing the risk of financial loss, we were able to build strong new relationships at a local level, helping with both local and centrally run remediation efforts. 

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