|For Brock Renshaw, life has always been about pushing himself past his limits, going beyond comfort zones to encounter and overcome new challenges through a combination of intense effort, focus and teamwork.
That drive is among the reasons Renshaw, now a vice president and strategic threats analyst at Citi, joined the military, to see what he could be fully capable of and at the same time be part of a greater mission that involves protecting the world from terrorists and a wide array of threats.
After more than 20 years as an all-source intelligence analyst and stints at the Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency and Marines, he has learned quite a bit about the nature of terror and criminal threats and how to think quickly, critically and efficiently, making decisions in high-stress, high-stakes environments.
Although the issues at hand may be complex and the tactics employed by criminal groups sophisticated, one of Renshaw’s greatest strengths is his ability to condense issues to their essence and a realization of the mercurial nature of the operating environment and the inextricably intertwined threat environment.
As one changes to capture the other, investigators come up with new operational ways to identify criminal patterns, the threat actors morph as a result, changing their stripes and coming up with a new twist to carry out their schemes, leading Renshaw on a continuous path of learning.
But the ability to break disparate details down into their component parts, simplify and boil down what may seem to be arcane data points – while at the same time being able to identify and parse out broader patterns – has translated well for Renshaw.
His experience in anti-money laundering (AML) and intelligence from both the public and private sectors has also helped him better educate fellow team members and illumine leaders that depend on accuracy and clarity to make the right decisions.
Here are some of his thoughts in the latest ACFCS Member Spotlight.
1. What do you do in your current role?
In my current role, I provide strategic intelligence of global and emerging financial threats to the institution in order to devise strategies and solutions to deter, impede and lessen the impact.
2. What does the career trajectory in financial crime look like?
Excellent. As the industry creates new operating environments, physical and virtual threats adapt, mature, and converge; ergo becoming more intrinsically connected. The challenge will be for financial institutions to offer top-notch products and services to their clients, while the adversaries continue to strategize how to exploit those products and services.
3. What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
To take care of people, those you work with, for and lead, and nothing is more important than the people in your life. There’s no “I” in team, and one individual rarely succeeds unilaterally. Have passion for what you do.
4. What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?
To stay in my lane as it is limiting and stifles achievement. I believe developing enduring relations and creating synergies that did not exist through interaction enhances and enriches people’s lives, as well as increases awareness about the threat environment.
5. What would you say are the most important attributes for someone in your role to be able to succeed?
Understanding the potential impacts threat actors and methods have on the institution, based on the current and emerging operating environment is important. Analysis is necessary to accurately evaluate the threats, but synthesizing the data and telling the story through written and oral presentation are even more critical attributes to enable decision making.
6. How has (compliance, investigations, etc.) changed and evolved during your career?
I believe a culture of threat is becoming more normalized in the industry. Institutions recognize the benefits of focusing on threat intelligence to better understand adversary’s tactics, techniques, procedures and capabilities to attack or exploit an institution.
7. What do you see as the key challenges related to financial crime in your role or in the sector overall?
As the operating environment continues to change, so does the threat environment. The process to understanding both environments – operating and threat – in order to remain ahead of the threat actors and their methods is never ending.
8. What motivated you to become a financial crime professional?
My intelligence career spans from the Marine Corps to the Defense Intelligence Agency. While in the public sector, I realized a desire to increase private sector utilization of intelligence, because terrorist groups were increasingly resorting to criminal activity to support their terrorist desires. Financial crimes are integral to a terrorist organization’s success at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. The private sector plays a major role in using intelligence to detect, deter, and disrupt illicit activity.
9. Is there anything that surprised you about your current role?
I came from the public sector where “intelligence drove operations.” When I first started working in the private sector, the concept was not as accepted as it was in the public sector, but the benefits of adding threat intelligence to the decision-making process has become more institutionalized across the industry since I started.
10. Why did you join ACFCS and/or become CFCS certified?
I joined ACFCS to be the best I could be in the field, and to be part of a select group of experts in financial crime. This is the same mentality I had when I decided to become a Marine – to see if I had what it takes and to push myself beyond my comfort zone to achieve something I thought was beyond my capabilities. I continuously seek to be part of the gold standard, and to help the financial services community be more effective at stopping threat actors.
11. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
At an institutional level, the reward is when threat intelligence is widely distributed organically from one team or person to another. At the individual level, the most rewarding part is when someone understands and becomes excited by the benefits of threat intelligence.