ACFCS Jobs Corner: In fincrime compliance job hunt, research diligently, apply carefully, network thoughtfully, says Zachary Plotkin

The Skinny:

  • The need to wargame when it comes to finding a dream position has always been important for professionals in the fields of anti-money laundering (AML), fraud, corruption, investigations, cybersecurity and the like, because the arcane alchemy of skills needed to ensure success can be both very broad and very specific at the same time.
  • Typically, professionals in this field need to curious, creative, courageous, commanding, cajoling, highly organized and yet highly flexible and malleable to quickly adapt to the latest criminal trend, regulatory focal point or institutional vulnerability – or any other high-pressure, time sensitive, red alert level priority that has leapt to the fore of the ever-expanding and constricting matrix of risk.
  • But there are some tips and tactics to better position yourself to ensure you are finding the best jobs to suit your unique mix of strengths, experience, personality and even feed your passion to give you a greater sense of purpose as you rise in your career. Some key areas you should focus on: researching, job application, recruiters and networking.

By Zachary Plotkin
Head of Compliance, Legal, Privacy, Cyber at Infinity Consulting 
October 20, 2020 

Editing and additional content by ACFCS VP of Content, Brian Monroe

Is job hunting getting you down? Do you work all day only to come home and start the process of looking for a job? Job hunting during a pandemic is more stressful and effort driven than ever before.

The good news is that during this time, compliance, risk and financial crime positions have only become more ubiquitous within the job market. Researching, applying carefully, building relationships, and networking can help you obtain a position within these fields.

But there are some tips and tactics to better position yourself to ensure you are finding the best jobs to suit your unique mix of strengths, experience, personality and even feed your passion to give you a greater sense of purpose as you rise in your career.

The need to wargame has always been important for professionals in the fields of anti-money laundering (AML), fraud, corruption, investigations, cybersecurity and the like, because the arcane alchemy of skills needed to ensure success can be both very broad and very specific at the same time.

What do we mean? Here are some examples: Oh, you can do investigations. Great! We need a deep dive on synthetic ID fraud. You know AML and systems. Awesome! We were looking for a risk assessment and transaction monitoring model validation specialist. You have international banking experience. Wonderful! Because we need you to scrutinize for nested transactions in our high risk correspondent network.

But that’s not all you will need to conquer compliance.

Typically, professionals in this field need to be curious, creative, courageous, commanding, cajoling, highly organized and yet infinitely flexible and malleable to quickly adapt to the latest criminal trend, regulatory focal point or institutional vulnerability – or any other high-pressure, time sensitive, red alert level priority that has leapt to the fore of the ever-expanding and constricting matrix of risk.

Some of the critical areas of focus on in looking for a new job include:  

  • Researching: To find the best job that suits your talent and expertise, do some digging.
  • Apply carefully: By taking a shotgun approach to applying, you may end up shooting yourself in the foot.
  • Building a relationship with a recruiter: This is a strategy that can’t be stressed enough. Just as consultants are the nexus between what regulators want and what banks must improve, recruiters are the bridge between what banks need in terms of talent, experience and resources, and what they don’t have to meet regulatory expectations, manage rising risks and be viewed as a true ally of law enforcement.
  • Networking: Remember that foot we mentioned earlier, the one we warned you not to shoot? Try instead to connect, collaborate and even cajole some of the top minds in your field, as they just might help you get that foot of yours in the door – to your dream job. 

Researching

The first thing that job seekers within this field need to do is research.

Understanding what you want and what you are looking for is one thing but understanding where you want to go is entirely different. When a candidate is looking to break into the industry, the candidate needs to understand that compliance has multiple sub-divisions.

The sub-divisions can be broken out into multiple categories, such as, types of institutions (banks, RIA, MSB, B/D, etc), types of products (Commercial banking, retail banking, capital markets, etc) and the function within the compliance/financial crimes division (AML, KYC, OFAC, etc.)

Applying Carefully

The biggest mistake a candidate can make when looking for a job is applying aimlessly to jobs – whether that is multiple jobs at the same company or jobs at different companies.

You should be very meticulous and pick which jobs you actually want to apply to verses applying just for the sake of it. What you are doing when you apply aimlessly is putting your resume into a black hole that most people never hear back from (the application process).

Job portals automatically save your resume, so if you apply directly to two different positions at the same firm, the internal recruiter will see that you applied to multiple positions.

That internal recruiter may think “why is he/she applying to multiple positions at my firm? Do they not know what they want?” You will have more success if you apply carefully and strategically to the places and positions you actually are interested in.

Building a relationship with a recruiter

One of the best resources a candidate can utilize is a good recruiter.

A recruiter should be able to tell you everything that a job description cannot. Recruiters are your best source of market intel and internal culture information within a company.

A recruiter can also help you navigate through the process of getting an opportunity.

Be honest with them and they will be honest with you. The field of compliance, risk and financial crimes is small, so there is a good chance a recruiter will always be one degree of separation from at least one to two people you know.

It is important to build that rapport with a recruiter so that when the opportunity you want comes around, your recruiter knows and can let you know immediately.

Networking

One of the best ways to secure a new opportunity is to network.

There is no easier way to obtain a job in any field than utilizing your network. If you do not have a strong network, utilize virtual networking events during this time.

There are numerous resources, such as webinars provided by associations, like ACFCS J, specific LinkedIn groups, and recruiters in the space.

Put yourself out there and ask basic questions that stir conversation. If you just attend the networking event and wait for someone to talk to you, you will have less success.

As we mentioned, part of getting known and being seen as a thought leader by your peers and potential employers is putting yourself out there. Remember, if you don’t ask questions you will never know about opportunities.

To recap, make sure you are doing your homework on each firm and applying carefully to the positions you actually want.

Be strategic in building a relationship with a recruiter and utilize your network. Looking for a job is a job in itself.

At times it can be very challenging, however it helps to stay positive and look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Have I done everything I can to put myself in the best possible position?”