What is an Anti-Money Laundering Specialist?

An anti-money laundering specialist is a financial professional who identifies and prevents money laundering activities. Financial organizations use anti-money laundering specialists as auditors and compliance agents. Almost all anti-money laundering specialists belong to a global professional organization, the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), and maintain their Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential.

Anti-Money Laundering Overview

Every country has their own anti-money laundering regulations. Anti-money laundering specialist are familiar with all applicable national and global laws that govern their financial institution. At banks, these professionals train employees how to recognize and report fraud. They respond to money laundering inquiries from banks and law enforcement agencies. These professionals establish compliance policies and are the communication point person with law enforcement during internal investigations. They monitor internal and external individuals and businesses for suspicious financial activities. Even though certain financial activities are not required to be reported to the government, many banks voluntary track them to create reports for government agencies and internal anti-fraud teams. Anti-money laundering specialists must be familiar with the regulations of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Performance Areas

Anti-money laundering specialists investigate potential money laundering risks in banks and financial institutions. They ensure the efficient identification, monitoring and documentation of suspicious transactions. They report all questionable financial activities to internal compliance directors and external regulatory bodies. Every day, they review anti-money laundering assessments for signs of suspicious activities. In order to do this, they maintain a current understanding of money laundering issues related to white collar, terrorist and criminal organization financing trends. They also are familiar with industry best practices, criminal typologies and current FBI and law enforcement alerts. Anti-money laundering specialists identify systemic vulnerabilities, procedural weaknesses and performance areas that require re-training. They provide expert advice to financial executives regarding appropriate remedial actions for high risk accounts and activities.

Essential Skills

Anti-money laundering specialists need to have strong analytical skills in order to organize and analyze multiple data sets. Strong database skills are also necessary to work with advanced pivot tables, data sets and statistical search methods. Anti-money laundering specialists should be able to quickly identify risks, understand business unit processes and develop comprehensive mitigation solutions. Written communication skills are necessary in order to create pervasive and informative recommendations for financial executives. Anti-money laundering specialists must be assertive and tactful in order to ask difficult questions and challenge unethical behaviors. They also need to be able to make timely and independent decisions while working in fast-paced and results-driven work environments. Solid analytical skills with high attention to detail and accuracy will help anti-money laundering specialists effectively perform their duties.

Suggested Education

There is a select amount of colleges that offer master’s degrees in financial audits, risks and compliance. Many colleges offer graduate level certificates in anti-money laundering. These programs include classes that promote the best practice in fraud, compliance, financial crime and anti-money laundering activities. Students learn how to recognize specific financial crimes and the corresponding skills required to successfully investigate and prevent them. Students become familiar with current financial crime trends and prevention challenges. They are able to critically evaluate policies and practices that lead to fraudulent and criminal behaviors. Courses on financial crime control and risk management train students to detect and deter anti-money laundering crimes by implementing processes and technology that minimizes risks.

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Anti-money laundering specialist are financial risk and compliance specialists who protect assets and prevent crimes.