BY ANDREW TARPEY
As someone who has worked in the compliance and anti-money laundering fields for some time, I had long been familiar with the ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists) certification. Becoming certified as an anti-money laundering specialist is desired by anyone who works in the industry, and it signals that a person has developed knowledge and experience in the subject of financial crime. Although I had long desired to become certified, doing so isn’t easy; along with the reading and studying that is required to pass the ACAMS exam, there is a significant financial cost to becoming both a member of ACAMS and to sit the exam. Many companies will sponsor an employee to gain the certification, but due to the cost involved, I found that there were limits on this; for example, a company may pay for only one or two employees to take the ACAMS exam each year, and others who wanted to do so would either have to wait until a subsequent year or pay for it themselves.
When Southpac approached me and said that they would like me to become certified by ACAMS, I jumped at the opportunity. Although there would be a lot of studying involved (and not necessarily much free time to do so with family and work commitments taking up most of my time), I knew it would be beneficial to me as a compliance officer and also to Southpac. Once I signed up to take the exam, ACAMS provided me with a lengthy study guide which covers pretty much every facet of financial crime. The guide provided details on everything from the various forms that money laundering can take to international laws and directives combatting money laundering. When the day came to sit the exam, I had some understandable nervousness. The exam was 120 questions, all multiple choice, and 3 ½ hours are allotted to complete it. I didn’t think I would need nearly that much time, but in the end it took me around three hours. The test is taken on a computer, and the benefits of this are that when a person finishes the exam, the results are given right away. Once I finished answering all the questions and clicked on “Submit Exam”, you can imagine the feeling of relief when I was notified that I passed!
Becoming certified as an anti-money laundering specialist shows that someone has a commitment to bettering themselves and developing knowledge and skills in the field of financial crime. Southpac, who also made an investment in my attaining this certification, has shown that they take matters of compliance seriously and want to safeguard the company against money launderers and others who would use Southpac’s services for nefarious purposes. Having a Group Compliance Officer who is certified in the anti-money laundering field and who undertakes ongoing training in this regard benefits the company, as the industry deals with ever increasing compliance standards.