In our latest reader Q&A, Francesa Dowling argues that compliance should never be seen as a tick-box exercise
What is your full job title?
Head of Compliance/Money Laundering Reporting Officer.
How long have you worked in the industry?
I have worked in financial services for 8 years. I moved into Compliance in both gambling and the legal sector before returning to financial services.
How long have you worked in your current role?
I am approaching my one year anniversary!
How did you get into your current role?
I was working in the legal sector and was keen to return to financial services. My area of expertise is anti-money laundering and this is more prominent in the financial sector.
The role came up and I was impressed by the Amaiz business model and their success story to date. I wanted to be part of the ongoing journey and from the minute I interviewed for the role, I knew this was the perfect position for me. Amaiz shared my passion in fighting financial crime and felt that compliance was the key to being an ethical company, rather than an obstacle to success.
What does a typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day in compliance, this is why I love it! A key part of compliance is financial crime and this means every day is a journey into the unknown! Some days are proactive, taking steps and putting measures in place to prevent crime, other days are reactive, dealing with threats and mitigating risk. The only consistency I have is being busy, I can honestly say I have never spent a day clock watching and am yet to be bored.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
I think it would be extremely difficult to pinpoint a single achievement. I am proud of the part I have played in the success of Amaiz and the key part we have played in preventing fraud and money laundering.
Knowing you have done everything in your power to prevent organised crime and seeing cases you have reported resulting in a conviction will never stop being a great achievement to me.
Compliance can often be seen as a ‘box ticking exercise’, where you are seen to be doing the right thing but I wholeheartedly disagree with this. As a mother, I really do care about preventing the harm that is funded by financial crime. I see compliance as an essential role and every day should be an opportunity to achieve something great.
What is the most challenging thing about your role?
As a compliance specialist, data protection makes up a huge part of my role and is something I work hard to adhere to, protecting people’s data is paramount in the fight against fraud, however, data protection can also be a huge challenge. I would love to see cross sector collaboration where industries could openly speak about risks and specific threats, but data protection often prevents us from doing this.
In an ideal world any regulated entity should be able to pick up the phone and query transactions or client activity with another entity involved, this would allow for much greater transparency and better quality reporting, but this put’s individual’s data protection rights at risk. The confidentiality surrounding suspicion and reporting can, at times, be a double edged sword.
What part of your role do you enjoy the most?
I love investigating and compiling evidence in order to put a case together. Sometimes you start out with nothing more than a gut feeling that something isn’t right, being able to act upon that and gather further information until you have quantifiable suspicion is so satisfying. It is always such a great feeling to know that you acted upon your instinct and that you have done the right thing.
Working closely with law enforcement agencies in securing a conviction is also extremely rewarding. It shows that we do not sit back and do the minimum and that the fight against financial crime will never stop.
How do you see your role/industry changing in the next few years?
Technology plays a huge part in fraud and financial crime and as a result it plays just as big a part in the prevention and detection. As fraud technology evolves, we will continue to utilise cutting edge technology to stay one step ahead. There will always be the need for human evaluation of transactions but AI and technological advances will be the fastest and most obvious change in the industry.
Would you recommend working in this role, please give your reasons?
100% yes! How many people have the job satisfaction of knowing that they made a difference to the world every single day? Whether it is preventing money laundering, which is connected to horrific organised crime, such as human trafficking and terror financing or preventing fraud, what I do every day really matters.
People think of financial crime as being victimless, but that is not the case when you are dealing with a vulnerable person who has had all of their personal details compromised and are living in fear as a result, or reporting large scale people traffickers forcing young people into slavery.
I love my job, I love knowing that I have worked my hardest to protect the innocent and take a stand against financial crime. If you want a role that keeps you busy and engaged while also preventing harm to others I can not think of a better job. Financial crime is increasing rapidly and in my industry, we are working flat out to stay one step ahead. I can’t imagine doing any other role and there is nothing I am more passionate about. ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’
Do you work in a field tackling financial crime? Don’t miss the chance to feature in one of Fincrime Report’s regular job focus Q&As.
We are looking for people who work in AML/CTF, fraud detection, threat intelligence and related legal and regulatory fields across a range of industries to tell us about their everyday job.
Just fill in a short Q&A and submit a photograph to be considered for inclusion. We want to feature people of all levels of seniority.
If you want to take part, email Carl Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org