Fincrime Career Tips and Tricks: To rise in field, develop nose for news to attack alerts, communicate to innovate, connect with wider compliance world

The Skinny:

  • In this new initiative, ACFCS engages the fincrime compliance community for wisdom and practical insights on how to enter and rise in a fulfilling, but demanding and ever changing, field.
  • We are asking minds across the spectrum and around the world of compliance officers, regulators and investigators to share some of their secrets to success.
  • Some of the questions: How can you take the first steps launching a career in the midst of a pandemic? And for those already working, how can you continue to develop professionally and take it to the next level?
  • For this tip, we travel to Nigeria, where one professional believes some of the secrets to success include a nose for news to keep current on illicit tactics and regulatory focal points and connecting with like-minded professionals through associations to tame the ever-growing avalanche of AML alerts. 

 

By Brian Monroe
bmonroe@acfcs.org
May 5, 2021

With minor edits by ACFCS VP of Content, Brian Monroe

In this new initiative, ACFCS engages the fincrime compliance community for wisdom and practical insights on how to enter and rise in a fulfilling but demanding and everchanging field.

We are asking minds across the spectrum and around the world of compliance officers, regulators and investigators to share some of their secrets to success.

Some of the questions: How can you take the first steps launching a career in the midst of a pandemic? And for those already working, how can you continue to develop professionally and take it to the next level?

For this tip, we travel to Nigeria, where a fincrime compliance professional believes some of the secrets to success include a nose for news to help keep current on illicit tactics, regulatory focal points and sector responses. 

He advises not to limit yourself with one research strategy, but instead use a combination of a broad and diverse array of search engine alerts to cast the net wide, but also weave in industry-specific niche publications that have done some culling and condensing of top trends.

The tactics are doubly important for someone representing the fincrime compliance audit piece of the puzzle, as they are the last line of defense to find glaring gaps before a regulator or investigator is at the door — upset.

But critical to understanding how to respond to criminal threat actors, guidance and build compliance skillsets is connecting with like-minded professionals who “have a personal zeal or passion to be a great ambassador to uphold Compliance values and help in combatting financial crime.”

How do you find them? Through associations, social media firms, chapters and regional groups. 

Such a move could help professionals at banks large and small and varying experience levels act more quickly and decisively when a monitoring system chirps, indicating a previously milquetoast customer has spasmed wildly out of scope. 

Name: Elijah Etoh

Organization: Union Bank of Nigeria PLC

Title: Risk and compliance auditor

Country: Nigeria

What initially attracted you to the world of financial crime prevention? What keeps you here now?

I have always been a man of integrity and I detest the fact that fraudsters rid diligent hardworking people of their hard-earned income and exploit every loophole in the financial system.

So I joined the Regulatory Compliance team of my former Bank, Diamond Bank, where I worked for two years.

Thereafter, my zeal to become a professionally recognized Anti-money Laundering Specialist made me sponsor myself to write the ACAMS certification and I became a CAMS holder in November 2020.

While i was working remotely from home, it enabled me the opportunity to study more.

As a result, I got to know that the most critical aspect in preventing financial crime is prompt transaction monitoring and detecting suspicious transactions/ suspicious activities that are inconsistent with the established known pattern and profile of a customer.

I became interested in knowing more and learned that the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS) also exists and is recognized globally.

I have been hoping to get sponsored to join and write the exam because my organization failed to refund me for the expenses that I incurred on the CAMS certification.

My personal zeal and passion to uphold my personal values of integrity and firm belief in the compliance profession to safeguard the Financial Industry has kept me going.

I know someday I will put my compliance and transaction monitoring skills into very good use where it will be most beneficial as I have commenced my immigration plans to Canada.

How did you overcome the experience gap for those new to their industry, field or country?

I took up the challenge to empower myself and learn on the job.

I joined my transaction monitoring team and learned how to file STRs and SARs on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit platform (NFIU). I also train my colleagues on Data privacy and the need to be financially vigilant.

I also went ahead and joined the Toronto Compliance and AML Events (TCAE) study group, where people with like minds share personal experiences and we learn from veterans and professionals in the compliance field.

I have personally learned a lot about the FINCEN files and the New Regulatory Expectations in 2021 from FINTRAC.

So despite the territorial/country difference, I am already equipped for the future in Canada.

What’s your advice to someone just starting out in the industry and wondering how to chart their career path?

I would advise a beginner or new entrant to first have a personal zeal for excellence, a knack for research and carry out self-study programs.

Then join professional bodies like ACAMS, ACFCS and even a group like TCAE that has diverse professionals with like minds that are passionate about AML and Counter-Terrorist Financing events.

Lastly, setting up Google alerts on current trends in AML/CFT or subscribing to KYC360 Weekly digest, powered by Risk Screen, to get weekly stories/journals and global events on KYC, Cryptocurrency and Money Laundering would also be great to have as a source of information.

Any advice or suggestions for job-seeking during the pandemic?

People to be tech savvy and know how to multi-task.

You need to hone your skills, get the right professional certifications that make you digitally prepared, because the world is now a global village. People do not have to have physical contact/presence before they can work.

Job seekers must be determined to remain professional and disciplined when working as CCTV cameras are not on them, but they still have deliverables and reports that are needed in a timely fashion.

They need to think out of the box and see what value they can add beyond the existing services that an organization offers.

That way they are considered as agile, [innovative and effective]. 

Any other thoughts or guidance on getting started in fincrime careers to share?

Join professional financial crime groups or bodies, set up google alerts on areas of interests, subscribe to KYC 360 journals and read like your future depends on it.

Above all, have a personal zeal or passion to be a great ambassador to uphold Compliance values and help in combatting financial crime.

Get involved in sharing your career tips: How It Works

Each quarter, ACFCS is asking its members for advice on various aspects of fincrime careers, from getting your foot in the door to finding a mentor.

This quarter, we’re focused on guidance for launching a career – everything from what motivated you to seek out a role in fincrime prevention, to where you’re seeing hiring opportunities and more.

We’ll gather responses and share them back with our member community. Three participants will receive one year of complimentary ACFCS members (added to your existing membership for current members).

To learn more and submit your tips, click here