ACAMS Awards—And the Winners are…

ACAMS is proud of its members and their many accomplishments and achievements in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Each year ACAMS recognizes a few individuals who have contributed significantly to the compliance community. In 2011, ACAMS was proud to present awards to four outstanding individuals who through their example and leadership helped immensely to the betterment of the AML community. ACAMS Today would like to congratulate Bob Pasley, the recipient of the ACAMS Volunteer of the Year Award; Brian Stoeckert, the recipient of the ACAMS Volunteer of the Year Award; Peter Warrack, recipient of the ACAMS Professional of the Year Award and Yashica Whitehead, recipient of the ACAMS Today Article of the Year Award.

ACAMS Today spoke with the winners and asked them to share some of their insights.

Robert S. Pasley a consultant and attorney focusing on anti-money laundering and bank regulatory matters. He spent 30 years working at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, first as an attorney and then as an assistant director of the Enforcement and Compliance Division. He then worked for FinCEN and for Bank of America as a senior vice president. He graduated from Cornell Law School and from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.

ACAMS Today: In your 30 years in the compliance field, which type of training do you consider the most successful? Why?

Robert Pasley: Based on my 30 years at the OCC and six years since then, I prefer in-person training for a number of reasons.

  1. The trainer can see the reaction of the class and determine whether he or she is getting across to the audience.
  2. The trainer can adjust the presentation as needed, even in the middle of the presentation.
  3. The trainer is available to answer questions and to expound on difficult issues.
  4. Computerized training is very impersonal and cannot be tailored to specific audiences.
  5. Computerized training tends to consist of a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

AT: How can members keep abreast on the most current on AML/CTF
guidance and regulations?

RP: Members can best keep abreast of AML events, guidance and regulations by checking in on the ACAMS web site and reading Also, they should sign up to get free alerts from FinCEN - they are very helpful.

AT: What key points were taken into consideration by the Exam Task Force when updating the CAMS exam?

RP: When we were updating the exam, we attempted to ensure that the questions were straight-forward, not confusing or based on a trick. We also tried to take each question and match it specifically to a page in the Study Guide and make sure that the Study Guide was accurate, as well as the answer to the question.

AT: What did the Exam Task Force have in mind when updating the Study Guide:

RP: We tried to make it less U.S. centric, update it and provide newer case studies, improve the writing, make it more focused and relevant for the ACAMS person - for instance, there was too much on what lawyers should do and the legal aspects of investigations - and finally we tried to eliminate extraneous material.

AT: What advice do you have for members preparing to take the CAMS exam?

RP: My advice for someone taking the CAMS exam would be:

  1. Relax.
  2. Read the Study Guide twice.
  3. Take notes when reading the Study Guide or underline it.
  4. Study your notes.
  5. Take the ACAMS training course.
  6. Realize that the exam is supposed to be straight-forward; the questions are not designed to be tricky.
  7. Try to answer the questions from an international perspective - do not focus on the U.S. or your specific country.
  8. The questions, for the most part, are a matter of common sense - reason out the answer.
  9. Relax.

Brian Stoeckert a recognized expert by the The Wall Street Journal in financial crimes and specializes in convergent risk management, financial intelligence, mergers and acquisitions, cyber analytics and open source intelligence. He leads the counter terrorism finance training program for commercial markets.

Stoeckert co-authored the first publication to assess the compliance and financial crimes risks of bond swaps known as "permutas" using offshore jurisdictions in parallel markets. Commercial entities, financial institutions, and regulatory authorities used the article as a benchmark for developing controls around the risk, enhanced investigations and due diligence methods to bolster compliance programs, and analyzed the risk of continuing business in the region.

Stoeckert previously served as vice president for OneWest Bank, a $27 billion private equity owned Southern California bank, where he developed the enterprise-wide BSA/AML/Fraud program. Moreover, as a member of OneWest's Enterprise Risk Committee, he managed the integration of three failed financial institutions OneWest purchased from the FDIC.

He serves as the chair of the ACAMS Chapter Steering Committee and is an executive board member of the ACAMS Northern California Chapter. Previously, Stoeckert served as a founding executive board member of the ACAMS Southern California Chapter. He is a speaker and instructor at international and regional financial crimes conferences and training sessions. Stoeckert has presented on the financial crimes risks of mergers and acquisitions, mortgage loan fraud, permutas, foreign currency exchange, money services businesses, enhanced AML techniques and financial crimes training methods.

He received his Juris Doctor from New York Law School and his Bachelor of Arts from Stony Brook University. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS).

ACAMS Today: What are the benefits of membership in an ACAMS Chapter?

Brian Stoeckert: The chapters are an extension of ACAMS, but with a focus on the certain geographic communities. Therefore, locally, ACAMS members have the opportunity to engage with their colleagues on a more routine basis, which increases dialogue, expands professional networks, increases continuing education opportunities and creates the ability to have learning events closer aligned to local topics. For example, the Southern California Chapter developed a learning event on "Banking by the Border," which focused on issues faced by law enforcement and financial institutions near the U.S.-Mexico border. New York held an event on human trafficking. Both topics were later added to the Annual Conference program. Similarly, the Northern California Chapter recently held "Got Mobile? How Silicon Valley is Changing the Way People Use Money" that focused on how product developers are using technology to increase and streamline electronic payment methods. To me, the chapters are an excellent bang for your buck from cost, time, content, networking, and most of all, learning.

AT: What motivated you to become so involved with the development of ACAMS Chapters?

BS: The chapter network experienced significant growth over the past several years and it became apparent a wealth of information resided with the chapters that could be shared for the benefit of the ACAMS community. Each chapter executive board is unique and entrepreneurial in its own way. The one constant was that the executive boards were local resources on chapter operations, best practices, learning event topics, subject-matter experts and fostering relationships among local professionals. However, there was no clear means to leverage and streamline this information. So, after discussions with ACAMS, the Chapter Steering Committee was formed to serve the chapters and work collaboratively with ACAMS to assist existing, forming and new chapters as the network continues to grow. The committee, which deserves significant praise, has provided several reports and guidance on chapter operations that is routinely shared with the chapter network. Overall, it's been a rewarding experience to have a positive impact and contribute to the betterment of the ACAMS community.

AT: Can you provide some more detail on the work the Steering Committee has performed?

BS: The committee, which consists of five members that serve on the executive board of different chapters with one chair, has really helped provide guidance to the ACAMS Chapter network. The committee brings forth the inner workings of an executive board, while collaborating with the ACAMS chapter development team. In March, the committee produced a report that detailed the results of a chapter-wide survey on chapter operations and provided ACAMS with several recommendations. Subsequently, ACAMS issued guidelines to the chapters on several items in the report. A second report was delivered in September that highlighted the committee's accomplishments to date, new recommendations, and put forth a plan to revise the current Chapter Handbook. Currently, the committee is working with ACAMS on developing best practices and guidelines for the chapters on membership, learning events, sponsorships and communications.

AT: What is next for the Chapters?

BS: The chapters have demonstrated an ability to develop some real interesting programs. As the chapter matures, the comfort level should increase on expanding beyond some of the core topics. Chapters should bring awareness on new topics, maybe flip the perspective on the issues, yet at the same time foster teaching and best practices through workshop formats.

Peter Warrack the head of investigations, AML Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and was previously the head of intelligence at RBC Corporate Investigations Services.

Without question the biggest challenge for 2012 will be the requirement to do more and do more efficiently

He leads the money laundering and terrorist financing investigative effort of RBC in Canada and has built a highly trained, multi-cultural team of investigators drawn from banking, regulators and law enforcement.

Warrack's emphasis is on a risk-based (end-to-end) methodology, in which investigators work closely with AML Insight and Analytics to investigate, make a decision and action the decision accordingly (e.g., file a SAR or close an incident).

Prior to joining RBC in 2002, Warrack served as a senior officer and detective with the police in Northern Ireland during the height of the 'Troubles.' He also served in the British Army in an intelligence capacity.

Warrack has a Master's Degree in Organization and Management. He has published and presented on the subjects of AML/fraud investigation and risk mitigation. He also teaches on these subjects at Seneca College.

ACAMS Today: In the many years you have been in the compliance sector what important lessons have you learned?

Peter Warrack: Well firstly, I joined RBC to lead an intelligence-led approach to fraud prevention, detection and investigation. I realized that the same approach was equally applicable on the AML front and successfully shared such best practice within my own organization. The lesson was that many organizations still operate in fraud/AML silos.

Secondly, I realized that in the AML profession much of the training is about providing knowledge. Little training exists on how to apply such knowledge (e.g., in making decisions as to whether or not something is suspicious and training in critical thinking skills). The selection process for hiring AML professionals does not test the ability to 'think critically.' In my organization we place great emphasis on hiring the right people and providing them with the right training in the area of critical thinking.

AT: What has contributed to your success in the compliance field?

PW: Joining a forward thinking organization that encourages productive thinking and going beyond 'the rote' approach. As a former police officer in Northern Ireland, I gained extensive practical experience across both the AML front (proceeds of crime) and the predicate front (fraud and terrorist financing). In the military and police I was required to make important and often split second and life saving decisions; this honed my critical thinking skills. Being dyslexic gives me a thirst for knowledge and equips me to 'think spherically', (e.g., beyond 360º) to quickly identify the main issues and then focus on what is important. Lastly, I am a people person and enjoy passionate debate and the sharing of ideas and best practices. All of the above and working with mentors like Karim Rajwani, Jim Arndts and other like minded colleagues is what makes me successful.

AT: What advice would you give to AML professionals just starting out in the compliance industry?

PW: My advice is to simply concentrate on the basics, balancing knowledge and developing critical thinking skills. Proactively network with more seasoned professionals and learn by understanding and questioning. Have an opinion and be prepared to stand over it using critical thinking skills.

AT: What do you predict will be the biggest challenge for compliance professionals in 2012?

PW: Without question the biggest challenge will be the requirement to do more and do more efficiently - compliance with increasing regulatory requirements and cost effective approaches. Smart organizations will adopt a risk-based (intelligent and dynamic) approach and utilize true insight and analytics to focus their efforts, reduce false positives and become more efficient and effective. I call this approach as 'putting the 'i' in the FIU.

Yashica Whitehead

...has worked for Capital One Financial for the past 11 years. She currently works as a compliance process/project professional supporting areas within Capital One such as AML. She has also worked as an AML quality assurance investigator where she instituted and led a monthly AML training program for AML investigators at Capital One. She holds several industry certifications, including the CAMS designation and is a graduate of Strayer University with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and a minor in Business Management.

ACAMS Today: What led you to a compliance career path?

Yashica Whitehead: I dedicated seven years of my career to various areas of fraud detection. The desire to learn more about how financial institutions protected themselves spearheaded my interest in compliance.

AT: How did you decide upon a topic for your article?

YW: During my tenure as an AML investigator, I led an AML focused training program centered on growing and strengthening AML investigations through internal subject-matter experts or resources. Training is a continuous relevant topic and I felt others within the industry would benefit from insight into my experiences.

AT: What advice do you have for writers who want to be published?

YW: I would advise future writers to pull from their experiences. Consider topics that are new and emerging trends and issues.

AT: What topics would you be interested in reading about in the ACAMS Today?

YW: I am interested in reading about various topics, specifically emerging trends and case studies.

Interviewed by: Karla Monterrosa-Yancey, CAMS, editor-in-chief, ACAMS, Miami, FL, USA,

Leave a Reply