Since the Chicago Chapter's launch on September 8, 2008, they have hosted over 18 learning events ranging from OFAC and Sanctions Compliance to Caution List Screening and Cyber Crime. The Chicago Chapter has welcomed speakers from a variety of government agencies and financial institutions. Their dedication and efforts in the region have proven to be a factor in their growing membership and raising awareness about the issues facing AML/CTF professionals today.
The Chicago Chapter has excelled in creating a sense of community among ACAMS members and in providing training to enhance their AML/CTF knowledge. ACAMS thanks the Chicago Chapter for their hard work and encourages them to continue to lead by example.
ACAMS Today had the opportunity to visit with Jack Oskvarek, CAMS, the Chicago Chapter chair and gain some insight about the Chicago Chapter and its membership.
ACAMS Today: What benefits do ACAMS members receive by joining a local chapter?
Jack Oskvarek: The local chapter membership focuses on providing an opportunity for attending free or low cost events, primarily workshops on a variety of AML related topics. This provides a steady stream of CAMS and CPE credits to help earn and maintain certifications. The local chapter also provides professional networking and the exchange of ideas and information with each other. Local AML professionals, by regularly attending chapter events, get to know others that they normally would not. The local area focus is key.
AT: How can members make the most of their chapter membership?
JO: By regularly attending events, utilizing the time before each event to network with other members and speakers and to supplement their continuing education credits with those earned at the chapter events.
AT: What is the key to the chapter's success?
JO: The key to our success is the board's perseverance in keeping members connected. We share a passion to keep members connected with industry leaders, with other members and with the latest issues. That overriding philosophy brings about our drive, commitment and responsibility to our AML member community. Lastly, the chapter board believes we can continue our success and take pride in the positive feedback from members.
AT: Which 2011 chapter event was the most instructive?
JO: We really enjoyed our first ever roundtable event on May 26, 2011. We felt the need to take a different approach to a learning event and focus the attention of members talking with each other rather than the usual presentation coupled with a Q&A session. The members felt they had a voice with each other and an opportunity to exchange ideas. The AML professional community is a fun one to be a part of since we do not mind sharing what has worked for us in the past, but just as importantly what to avoid or what was problematic. The event put more pressure on the board and me in that we did not have the usual level of control since there was not a speaker presenting. The pressure was on us to jump start the event with selected topics for each table and to encourage participation. In fact, my guidance to each roundtable leader (we had four tables of 10 to 12 attendees) was to ensure no one person dominated the conversation and to provide a forum to those that were not being heard. I compare it to having a controlled burn in a prairie. If you have the right conditions with strategic coordination to start things off, then it moves along by itself. It was extremely gratifying to hear the positive reaction from members afterward. We will be revisiting this again.
AT: As chapter chair, what would you like to see the chapter accomplish in 2012?
JO: We want to broaden the subject matter and topics covered at our events now that we have had three years of solid experience in hosting events with industry leaders, and core AML/BSA/OFAC material and at times some fraud topics such as the convergence of AML and fraud. We hope to also revisit the success we had with the roundtable event. That turned out to be fun and well received. There was truly a higher level of excitement during and after the roundtable event. Also, maintaining the momentum from the last three years, but especially with the excitement from being named the 2011 Chapter of the Year. We were humbled by that and knowing there is so much work being done by other chapters and we want to ensure that we continue to deliver on our commitment to our members.
AT: Do you have any advice for newly formed chapters?
JO: Stay excited about your role in the AML professional community and the opportunity that an ACAMS chapter affords. It opens up a channel for local members to connect in many ways that is not possible without the ACAMS chapter.