David Kehr is a senior account executive at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). He has worked for ACAMS since 2005, developing relationships with government agencies and private financial institutions to help them meet their anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime training needs using various ACAMS products. Kehr is currently based in Houston, Texas and was a catalyst in starting the local ACAMS Houston Chapter which launched in May. He holds a degree in communications from Appalachian State University.
ACAMS Today: What do you find most rewarding about your job?
David Kehr: I have a genuine interest in people so for me, getting to know the members I interact with on a daily basis is the most rewarding part of my job. It is always nice to find out what people have going on at work but it is even better when I learn about their families, pets and what is happening in their personal lives. I have really developed some great relationships over the years and look forward to getting to know more members as the association grows.
AT: What gems of wisdom have you learned from working closely with law enforcement professionals?
DK: I have learned that law enforcement officials are really just like their private sector colleagues. Just like AML professionals at financial institutions, they face a number of challenges in their jobs. They both face budgetary constraints and also find cooperating with each other to be challenging. But at the end of the day, they take their AML duties seriously and carry them out with enthusiasm.
Law enforcement has done a great job at learning to use financial crime and AML laws against criminals in their investigations. They tell me that they use the CAMS designation as a tool that lends credibility in search warrants, affidavits and even raising their right hand on the witness stand saying they are a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), which helps them even the score with defense experts. I would encourage law enforcement officials to reach out to more fellow institutions and make sure they are taking advantage of these same types of tools.
AT: How can law enforcement and compliance professionals build a strong working partnership?
DK: I think it all comes down to trust. Law enforcement officials and private AML professionals are in culturally different working environments. You could say there is a little distrust among them, mainly because they operate differently and they sometimes feel they have competing interests. So it’s important for them to break down those barriers. Many law enforcement officials I talk to like to meet people face-to-face and interact with them in person. This not only helps them read the person and move toward developing that trust but it also helps them find out how they can work together with compliance officials. In the end, I think both sides need to remember that they are fighting the same fight in trying to prevent financial crimes and catch criminals so working together will only create better results.
AT: What can members do to best leverage their ACAMS’ membership?
DK: Do not just wait for the membership card to come in the mail; take advantage of the benefits. Often people do not realize that an ACAMS membership includes access to www.acamstoday.org with updated articles from fellow members as well as complimentary live chats, a resource center with job postings and forums to just read or post discussions on www.acams.org. The ability to network with other colleagues from all over the world through the site and having those extra tidbits of information are invaluable.