ACAMS Today had the opportunity to speak with Altair Gonzalez, ACAMS education and training manager.
Gonzalez has been with the association for almost two years and produces the ACAMS Annual Conference, CAMS Preparation Seminars, the Asia-Pacific Conference and seminar series, and the ACAMS Caribbean Conference.
Prior to joining the ACAMS team, Gonzalez was a program manager at Meeting Dynamics, a global destination management company, where she produced corporate training events in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. Outside of ACAMS, Gonzalez devotes her time volunteering with several charities and is an active member of the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale.
ACAMS Today: Describe your typical work day?
Altair Gonzalez: I start my day by reading news and articles related to AML/CTF and ACAMS alerts to stay informed on the latest issues affecting the industry around the world. The remainder of my day is focused on producing the major training and education projects for which I am responsible. This includes the CAMS Preparation Seminars, the Asia seminar series and the association's Annual Conference, taking place in Las Vegas in September 2011. Managing a project of the magnitude of the ACAMS Annual Conference is a large undertaking. I collaborate very closely with the marketing, sales, and customer service teams to ensure that ACAMS' produces a conference with high standards for members.
AT: What do you consider to be your highest achievement?
AG: Creating the curriculum for the association's 10th Annual International Anti-Money Laundering Conference has been an extremely rewarding experience. I worked closely with John Byrne and the conference task force—a group of domestic and international industry veterans—to create the largest program and speaker faculty in ACAMS' history to date. Seeing the conference grow in terms of sessions and attendance, and seeing it become one of our largest events is my highest achievement here at ACAMS.
AT: What are some goals or objectives that you hope to accomplish in the future within your department?
AG: Our goal is to continue to bring relevant training that meets our members' education needs. We strive to stay educated and updated on current challenges and trends in the AML industry. We use this knowledge to create web and live seminars, workshops and regional conferences that will help our members stay ahead of emerging schemes, up-to-date with regulatory requirements and expectations. By creating a collective forum for industry experts to share their experiences and case studies, we are able to keep our programming innovative and fresh.
AT: What have you learned from working closely with AML/CTF practitioners on the conference program?
AG: I have learned that the AML/CTF industry is ever changing as a result of new regulations, enforcement actions, sanctions and increasingly sophisticated schemes threatening financial institutions. For those who work in the compliance field, whether you are a government agent, MSB, auditor or insurance agent keeping ahead of the criminals and their efforts is the key to maintaining a successful program.
AT: What do you think will be the highlight of this year's annual conference?
AG: The year 2011 represents a milestone for the conference as we celebrate the 10th consecutive year of bringing the AML/CTF community together to exchange ideas, network and learn from international experts. What started as an annual meeting for 250 plus members has now grown to host over 1,000 multi-industry AML professionals from around the world. The record-breaking number of internationally renowned speakers and sessions at this year's conference reflects the enormous increase in interest from AML professionals in training and education.
AT: As part of the education and training team, what types of training can ACAMS' members look for in 2012?
AG: For 2012, we are developing a training program as diverse as our membership base. Expect to see training aimed not only for financial institutions but also for governments and non-depository institutions. Expanding our educational offerings to every industry affected by money laundering is a key goal of the association. Just as the criminals discover new, illicit activities, AML professionals from the full financial spectrum need to be equipped and prepared with the right tools and strategies to combat those crimes.