Working in Anti-Money Laundering
Billion-dollar fines for money laundering have become something of an unfortunate regularity in recent years, as both financial terrorists and regulators have equally ramped up their efforts to control the world’s funds. Together with the evolution of data analytics and the sheer volume of data generated on a daily basis, not to mention the technology created to support it; the demand for experts in the field of AML (Anti Money Laundering) has risen exponentially.
Working in AML fundamentally equates to being fluent in financial transactions and investigating financial activity in pursuit of anomalies and trends. AML Analysts and AML Specialists are there to monitor, investigate and report suspicious financial activity which they then examine and dissect in order to provide recommendations for improvement and compliance.
A crucial element in an organisation’s compliance strategy, AML Officers or Analysts ensure all AML regulations are adhered to so that the company avoids unnecessary scrutiny or punishment by the regulating bodies. So a big part of AML Analyst jobs is to liaise with the regulators, as well as with the internal and external auditors to go through risk monitoring, controls and other processes they’ve put in place for staying on top of risk activities.
Communication in all its forms is highly important for those wanting to venture into careers in AML as there is a lot of explaining involved to other parts of the business. From the regulators and auditors to other departments and those at executive level, AML Analysts spend a lot of time reporting information that clarifies how the organisation is performing with regards to risk mitigation. Their main purpose is to prevent money laundering from occurring so they must be able to think on their feet, quickly identify risks and make decisions in an environment that is constantly changing.
Candidates for AML Analyst jobs tend to come from a government service, such as law enforcement or military, from which they bring the investigative expertise and organisational thinking required to work in AML. Other areas that bring useful transferable skills include legal, operational roles and sometimes technology depending on the role.
What good AML analysts need to bring to the table is a deep and thorough understanding of the business they are working for. If they’ve moved through the organisation undertaking a variety of roles, they would be pretty familiar with the company’s goods, services and transaction styles, including most importantly what a normal customer interaction looks like. For a newcomer, the specifics can be learnt as you acclimatise to the company, but you should be able to apply your experience in financial crime from previous roles.
Data is a key element to working in AML. Both being proficient in its origins in order to glean a full picture of a client’s operations to ascertain whether there is transactional risk, as well as having the curiosity and investigative nous to know where to look for additional or missing data within the existing systems in order to make it part of your overall examination. This is where having excellent analytical skills comes in as well as meticulous attention to detail.
To be successful working in Anti-Money Laundering it helps to think outside the box and relate to the people you’re working with. Good relationship management is as important as being able to sift through massive amounts of unrelated data to form a logical and well-supported solution.