For International Women’s Day, ACAMS Today spoke with Ms. Hue Dang, CAMS-Audit, head of Asia for the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) based in Hong Kong, about her career, women in anti-money laundering (AML) and what she is doing to make a difference in the world.
In 2008, Ms. Dang established ACAMS’ regional head office in Hong Kong. In addition, Ms. Dang is an ACAMS-accredited trainer, who has conducted numerous AML trainings around Asia for central banks, private sector financial institutions and universities. She is also the program chair and moderator for all ACAMS training events, including the Annual Asia/Pacific AML and Financial Crime Conference and annual country seminars held in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Beijing, Shanghai, India, Jakarta and Malaysia. Ms. Dang is a frequent speaker at AML-related conferences around the region and the U.S. In addition, she conducts the Annual Train-the-Trainer Program to certify ACAMS trainers.
Prior to joining ACAMS, Ms. Dang had more than 15 years of experience in banking and finance. She was previously a bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, manager with Barclays Capital’s Investment Banking Division in Singapore, director for business development at Citibank’s Global Consumer Banking Group in Singapore and director of business development, Asia/Pacific, for Thomson Financial in Hong Kong. Ms. Dang holds educational degrees from the U.S., with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Amherst College and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Ms. Dang is also proficient in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese and French. In addition, she is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and she received her Advanced Audit certification in 2016.
ACAMS Today: The U.N.’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is Women in the Changing World of Work. How has the workplace changed for women since you started working, specifically in the AML industry?
Hue Dang: My professional career began in the government sector more than 23 years ago, and while opportunities for women in the workplace—in both the public and private sectors—have continued to rise, they still fall short of where they need to be, particularly in senior management roles. According to a CNNMoney analysis from 2015, women hold about 14.2 percent of the top five leadership positions in the S&P 500 companies. The AML industry is not immune to this current gender imbalance, but I do see it as one of the few sectors that offers the opportunity for a level playing field between women and men, given the industry’s fundamental premise of moral behavior and contributions to the safety and soundness of the financial system. “Doing right” is not a gender-specific trait.
AT: As a woman you have many responsibilities, how have you achieved the right balance in both your professional and personal life?
HD: It is a constant struggle to find the right balance between work and personal life, and frankly, I am not sure that I have it right all the time. I am very fortunate that I have a supportive spouse whose recent career change from investment banker to teacher has greatly helped me in this struggle between work and family responsibilities. A strong support network provided by a spouse, close or extended family, and/or friends, coupled with an adaptable work environment, is critical to a working woman’s efforts to strike the right balance between work and personal life.
AT: If you were asked to launch a campaign that would help women succeed as financial crime prevention professionals what would be your three-fold mission?
HD: My three-fold mission would be: 1) Raise awareness of why AML is more than just a result of regulatory push. That it reflects a social change that we as a society will no longer accept the precept “money is just money,” but that it matters how that money is earned. Being an AML professional provides the opportunity to live a life that makes a difference by preventing criminals from enjoying the proceeds of their crimes (whether or not they have paid the price of prison for their criminal acts). We spend the majority of our waking hours working, and being a professional in AML provides the opportunity to work in a field that contributes to the betterment of society; 2) Organize training, education and networking events to further enhance knowledge sharing amongst current industry practitioners, as well as to attract new entrants into the field; 3) Provide a platform for current AML professionals—especially women—to demonstrate and share their subject-matter expertise, through both in-person or virtual events.
AT: You have traveled extensively in your career, what would you say is a common thread you see among the women you meet in the AML/financial crime prevention field?
HD: The women I have met in the AML/financial crime prevention field are characterized by one thing—passion—passion to do the right thing, passion in the belief that their work is not counterproductive to business growth, but a critical partner to revenue preservation and growth, and the protection of their institution from legal and reputational risks. This passion and dedication are reflected in the long work hours that rival those in the investment-banking field, also known for its long hours, yet without the commensurate pay of investment banking.
AT: What is the best advice you have received that has helped you succeed in both your professional and personal life?
HD: The best advice I received is from my mother: Truly understand yourself and know what your core values are to identify the passion that will define your life. It is this core that provides the anchor in a sea of constant change—personally, socially, politically, economically, etc.
As such, I knew very early on that I wanted my work to make a difference to society, as trite as that may sound and that’s why I chose my post-graduate studies to be in public policy. This prepared me to enter the government sector, where policies impact the lives of so many positively, if crafted based on facts and analytical thoughts, and negatively, if crafted based on opinions and conjecture.
Personally, these same core values drive me to appreciate the relationships with family and friends spread around the world and to devote as much time and energy as I can to nurture and maintain these relationships, despite the distance and many time zones.
AT: What is your proudest achievement?
HD: Professionally—without a doubt—it is assisting in the building and fostering of the AML community through the establishment of ACAMS’ regional office in 2008, by engaging with the key stakeholders, such as regulators, law enforcement, financial services, banking associations and their training institutes, and universities. I was given the opportunity to help raise awareness on the AML issue throughout the Asia region by organizing training and networking events. The recognition and commitment to the AML issue in this region continues to be in varying stages of development, and it is an honor to have had the opportunity to lead ACAMS in Asia and contribute to this region’s increasing awareness and commitment to AML through training, education and networking events.
AT: What will you be doing on March 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day?
HD: I will be attending our Singapore Chapter’s quarterly training and networking event and using this industry forum to raise awareness about International Women’s Day and its mission objective.
I will also be videoconferencing with my son and daughter about the importance of this day and what it means to them.
Editor’s note: ACAMS Today will be featuring Women in AML throughout the month of March in celebration of International Women’s Day.