Balancing the Scale of Global Good and Business Outcomes

Balancing the Scale of Global Good and Business Outcomes

As the anti-financial crime (AFC) space continues to witness the unfolding environmental, social and governance (ESG) discourse that has brought both praise and skepticism over the past year, a narrative emerges that encapsulates a broader evolution. This narrative unfolds across the spectrum of enterprises, from global giants to nimble startups, summoning leaders to navigate the delicate balance between financial prosperity and the greater good.

The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer1 study highlights the marked shift in public confidence, with businesses emerging as more trustworthy entities than their counterparts, such as the media and government. The expectations of CEOs are also higher than ever before.

Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, which facilitates the annual study, said: “The increased perception of business as ethical brings with it higher than ever expectations of CEOs to be a leading voice on societal issues. By a six-to-one margin, on average, respondents want more societal involvement by businesses on issues such as climate change, economic inequality, and workforce reskilling. But business must tread carefully; more than half of our respondents do not believe business can avoid being politicized when it addresses contentious societal issues.”2

This seismic change places a profound responsibility on organizations―primarily the leaders at the top―to generate value and instigate authentic societal shifts for their primary stakeholders. This call to action and renewed stakeholder expectations mandate that companies report concrete action.

Unveiling the Unseen

ACAMS’ mission is to end financial crime and truly make a societal impact. There is nothing more inspiring than knowing that the organization’s work―educating, informing and convening global AFC professionals on the latest financial crime complexities and threats―strengthens the integrity of financial systems.

Yet, within the intricate threads of global financial transactions lies a disturbing truth: Modern slavery and human trafficking (HT), child online exploitation and illegal wildlife trade churn an illicit profit machine.

HT alone generates an estimated $150 billion globally in illicit proceeds annually. Almost 27 million individuals are entrapped in the vicious cycles of forced labor or sex trade. This global crisis knows no boundaries; it transcends nations, infiltrating both bustling urban centers and the farthest reaches of remote communities. What we also know is that it is influenced by several factors, from geopolitical turmoil and environmental crisis to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, illicit trade in wildlife flourishes―fostering corruption, endangering biodiversity and funneling up to $23 billion in criminal proceeds annually.

Further support is needed for the 1.7 billion people worldwide who lack access to essential financial services and products. This lack of access perpetuates poverty, fuels unregulated money transfer systems and leaves populations vulnerable to criminal exploitation.

It does not have to be this way.

Much of the illicit money flows through the traditional global financial system and there is a growing expectation that the financial sector will assume a critical role in mitigation efforts.

While ACAMS’ center of gravity has always been focused on equipping AFC professionals with the tools and resources for the fight against financial crime, the organization decided to be more intentional in casting a wider net in how it equips AFC professionals to be part of the solution in the fight against some of the world’s most horrific crimes.

Partnering With Purpose

Within the depths of the disheartening statistics, a rallying cry emerged―a call to action that ACAMS has passionately answered through its suite of free-of-charge social impact certificates.

Launched three and a half years ago, ACAMS’ 11 certificates signify more than a commitment to education and knowledge-sharing; they represent a commitment to drive real-world change.

While there have been many bumps along the way, more so at the start, there have also been lessons learned and growth reflected with the success of each certificate. ACAMS has found a growing community of AFC professionals who seek to be true change agents.

As these certificates grow―in interest, reach and offerings―they underscore that the path to progress is navigated together, drawing from diverse strengths and perspectives. ACAMS’ social impact certificates are blueprints for change, built upon the firm foundation of partnership and forged through a deep commitment to crafting a more equitable world.

From an idea to a reality―now embraced by over 76,000 professionals―ACAMS’ social impact certificates demonstrate that developing impactful strategies, even in a short time frame, is possible. Any organization, irrespective of size, possesses the power to discover purposeful avenues that align with its strengths and strategic direction, with the potential to drive substantial societal change.

However, this transformative endeavor would not have been possible without the invaluable partnerships that ACAMS forged with esteemed organizations like Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), United for Wildlife, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These partnerships form the bedrock upon which these certificates stand, uniting diverse expertise and shared aspirations under a common goal. The collaboration extends beyond ACAMS itself; it is a unifying force that connects the public and private sectors: financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations, academia and advocacy groups in a shared pursuit of social good.

The journey is far from over. ACAMS continues to develop these courses to catalyze change, striving to shape a future where businesses thrive while enriching society. Through these certificates, ACAMS offers education and empowerment―a tool to reshape industries, protect vulnerable populations, keep organizations’ infrastructures and ecosystems more compliant, and foster inclusion. And as the march continues, ACAMS’ commitment remains unwavering: To be a leading example that businesses are interconnected forces that can forge a better, more equitable world together.

Each day, the resonance of ACAMS’ purpose grows stronger. Within the digital corridors of ACAMS, where minds convene and insights flow, lies the underpinning of a safer world. As this happens day in and day out, and our work transcends through our over 100,000 members worldwide, we are all simultaneously dismantling the intricate mechanisms that enable HT, child exploitation, illegal wildlife trade and the covert channels of terrorism financing. That is something of which to be proud.

Forging a Harmonious Future Together

The landscape of the business ecosystem is evolving. In this evolution, some organizations realize that the pursuit of profit is no longer an isolated pursuit but a journey intertwined with the fabric of humanity. This is the modern example of corporate stewardship: The marrying of the pursuit of strong financial performance with the pursuit of global good. And in a world seeking equilibrium, ACAMS has demonstrated that balance is attainable and that the scales of global good and business outcomes are not opposing forces but two sides of the same coin.

Lash Kaur, VP Global Strategic Communications & DEI, ACAMS,

  1. “2023 Edelman Trust Barometer,” Edelman
  2. “2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Reveals Business Is The Only Institution Viewed As Ethical and Competent; Emerges As Ethical Force For Good In A Polarized World,” Edelman, January 15, 2023,

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