June 18, 2019 | 5 min read
Finance Professionals: How To Transition Into Anti-Money Laundering


Since the Great Recession, financial institutions have relied heavily on anti-money laundering professionals in order to comply with new and existing regulations. In the time since, this field has only continued to grow. “As these banking institutions work to avoid the next financial crisis, compliance professionals are at the forefront of this campaign,” says Austin Brown, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division.  “Within financial services, this is one of the fastest-growing and lucrative opportunities—and many finance professionals are wondering how they can take advantage.”

For those who are interested in transitioning into a career in compliance and anti-money laundering, there’s some great news: these opportunities aren’t going away any time soon. “Some of these compliance departments and job openings are barely a decade old,” explains Austin. “They were created in response to the Great Recession.” As a result, the profession is still booming, and more growth is expected in the future—especially in New York City. Plus, this means that a career transition into anti-money laundering is not uncommon. Many professionals have made the switch into this field in the past few years.

In addition to high hourly rates available for anti-money laundering professionals, the project-based nature of these consulting roles is also favorable. “Fraud detection is a reaction role, and therefore AML consultants are typically only brought on when needed,” says Austin. “We see a lot of 6-month projects where compliance professionals are hired to detect fraud and offer solutions before moving onto the next project. With this type of work, you get a lot of exposure to and experience with different financial institutions.”

For those looking to transition into an anti-money laundering role, Austin suggests you consider taking the following steps:

Get your CAMS certification

If you are not already a certified anti-money laundering specialist, this should be step one toward a career in this field. “This credential is the gold standard in AML certifications, and it is recognized internationally,” explains Austin. “Pursuing this shows your commitment to safeguard against money laundering and your ability to protect financial institutions and its clients.”

Consider living in New York City

If you’re not currently based near New York City, it is important to note that the majority of AML opportunities are in this region. Relocating not only gives you access to more opportunities, but also would allow you to gain experience at top financial institutions and increase your earning potential.

Get acquainted with fraud detection systems

Having experience with fraud detection systems like Actimize or Mantis can improve your marketability for a coveted middle office position. “Understanding these software platforms and how they assist with regulatory coverage and suspicious activity monitoring is critical to performing well in this field,” says Austin.

Understand Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR)

Experience with Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) is another important element of a successful anti-money laundering professional. The more expertise you possess in not only detecting but properly reporting fraud, the more trusted you are by top financial institutions.

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