Fincrime Career Tips and Tricks: Want to rise in your compliance career? See it as a calling, not a job, work to craft a ‘stable moral system, sharp mind, analytical thinking, courage to act’

Zooming in on a 1951 Banknote from Bulgaria.

The Skinny:

  • In this initiative, ACFCS is engaging the fincrime compliance community to share critical wisdom and practical insights on how to enter, elevate and lead in a fulfilling, demanding and everchanging field: countering illicit finance around the globe. 
  • For this tip, we travel to Bulgaria, to gain perspective through the vantage point of a former government securities regulator who made the jump to fincrime compliance in the capital markets area – a move that calls for a unique set personal and professional skills.
  • For former regulator Mihaila Morteva, one of the foundational cornerstones of success in a field that demands so much is a belief that finding and fighting illicit finance is a vocation, a true calling — one that requires a powerful mind and courageous heart.  

This Fincrime Career Tips and Tricks is part of the association’s new Community Collaborations series, to share the top tips, tactics and techniques to conquer compliance. 

By Brian Monroe
bmonroe@acfcs.org
June 21, 2022

In this initiative, ACFCS is engaging the fincrime compliance community to share critical wisdom and practical insights on how to enter, elevate and lead in a fulfilling, demanding and everchanging field: countering illicit finance around the globe. 

The overarching goal: capture, condense and distill decades of knowledge, experience and skills from fincrime fighters who are the tip of the spear in this battle: current and former compliance officers, regulators and investigators.

These diverse and dynamic groups have stories to tell and lessons to share through some of their secrets to success, whether they have a background in anti-money laundering (AML) compliance, law enforcement investigations, cyber-enabled fraud or regulatory examinations. 

For this tip, we travel to Bulgaria, to gain perspective through the vantage point of a former government securities regulator who made the jump to fincrime compliance in the capital markets area – a move that calls for a unique set personal and professional skills.

For Mihaila Morteva, one of the foundational cornerstones of success over nearly a decade in a field that demands so much and comes with ever more liability the higher you rise is a belief that finding and fighting illicit finance is a vocation, a true calling.  

The person who chooses to be a fincrime compliance officer – or a regulator or government investigator – must “have a stable moral system, a sharp mind, analytical thinking and courage to act,” she said.

Those tenets can also be magnified and enhanced by joining a likeminded team.

An organization, ideally, that understands the enormous reputational and regulatory value – and in some cases even shield against multi-billion-dollar penalties – of an empowered and emboldened, rather than embattled, compliance officer.

“From my perspective, I would add that joining a well-established institution with an excellent reputation will grind you, shape you and polish you [into becoming an industry thought leader and respected expert in the field,” Morteva said.

She was kind enough to share some of her career insights in our latest “tips and tricks” episode. Enjoy!

Name: Mihaila Morteva

Organization: ELANA Trading

Title: Compliance officer

Country: Bulgaria

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

Initially, I was a state expert for our national competent authority, the Financial Supervision Commission of Bulgaria.

I took part in a team supervising all participants in the capital markets arena.

A few years ago, I joined one of the best local investment intermediaries [ELANA] and my incredible colleagues are keeping me here, always driven by innovation and improvement.

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

My opinion is that in this field, every now and then, there will be some new aspect [of financial crime and compliance to focus on, either from the perspective of criminal fraud schemes, money laundering or vulnerabilities regulators will give added attention and scrutiny].

So, it`s really important to stay up to date, be informed and always be prepared when and how to act if necessary.

[What does this look like in practice? To not just react to what is happening in the securities and trading markets, but to always keep evolving and adjusting your data, analytics and training to improve fincrime compliance program effectiveness, not just baseline regulatory compliance].

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

I believe that this is one of the professions or professional fields that is a vocation. [It’s more than a career, but a true calling.]  

The person who chooses to be a fincrime compliance officer – or a regulator of government investigator – must have a stable moral system, a sharp mind, analytical thinking and courage to act.

From my perspective, I would add that joining a well-established institution with an excellent reputation will grind you, shape you and polish you into becoming an industry thought leader and respected expert in the field.

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

Well, there are plenty of opportunities now, and it`s not just mainly the finance sector.

The most common vacancies are in gambling, big trading firms, online sales, real estate, etc.

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

Of course, a certification will be a benefit, but most of all, staying up to date informed is crucial. 

Also, it`s really important to have someone to discuss topics with, because not every scenario and situation will be by the book.

Joining a local compliance officer or investigator group or branch of a larger fincrime compliance association in prevention will give you a community in which sharing an experience could help.

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