From the Editor

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Risk — A four-letter word that we deal with daily. Assessing risk is part of everyone’s life, whether it is during your commute to work passing the slow car in front of you, moving to another country and beginning anew, taking a job that can make or break your career, choosing to attend or not to attend an ACAMS’ conference, bungee jumping off a bridge for fun or choosing a significant other. Life is full of risk. There is that old adage of no risk no reward. This holds true for many financial institutions and in turn makes the compliance department even more valuable.

This issue is all about risk. Here at the ACAMS editorial department we assessed our risk and decided that an issue focusing on the topic was worth pursuing.

Financial crime professionals deal with assessing risk on a daily basis. Let’s face it: That is part of your job. The headline in the cover article starts by asking an important question that all compliance professionals should ask themselves: How risky is your risk assessment? The article goes beyond traditional risk assessment mechanics in favor of practical, actionable and easily implemented best practices. In a two-step process this article outlines how-to analyze and build a sound methodology for your risk assessment program.

Continuing with our risk theme, the second headline article A deep dive into country risk assessment discusses country risk assessments, which are key components for supporting the overarching risk assessment program and maintaining a sound sanctions program. Learn the three-step process that will help you maintain an effective country risk assessment program within your institution.

A Bitcoin further down the road follows the latest developments and challenges presented by virtual currencies, namely Bitcoin, and postulates next steps to be taken outside the U.S., by money launderers and compliance professionals.

Courage in compliance epitomizes the personal risk of a compliance professional and how her resilience helped law enforcement shut down the processing of illegal gambling activity within a bank. This article outlines lessons learned and the difference that one person can make.

This edition also contains highlights of the 2013 Compensation Survey released by ACAMS in May and also an in-depth look and an interview with the key developers of the ACAMS Risk Assessment tool to be released later this year. For more info, please contact Tanya Montoya at

Congratulations to our Chapter of the Year award recipient, Greater Twin Cities Chapter! ACAMS Today had the opportunity to interview two chapter board members about the chapter’s accomplishments. Be sure to congratulate the Greater Twin Cities Chapter and also the other award recipients that will be announced at the ACAMS 12 Annual AML & Financial Crime Conference in Las Vegas.

Finally, we hope you are reading the ACAMS Today either in print, online ( or via the ACAMS Today App. As always, please send any suggestions, comments or article submissions to me at

We hope you will take a risk this September and attend the ACAMS 12 Annual AML & Financial Crime Conference. We will see you there!

Karla Monterrosa-Yancey, CAMS

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