Jennifer Hanley-Giersch, CAMS: Enhancing Empowerment and Driving Innovation

ACAMS Today  sat down with Jennifer Hanley-Giersch, CAMS, managing partner of Berlin Risk Limited, to discuss career advice and her sources for writing inspiration. Hanley-Giersch has nineteen years of experience in the risk management and anti-financial crime (AFC) fields. She has extensive experience in global investigations, compliance advisory, reputational risk management and political risk assessment.

Hanley-Giersch is a recognized thought leader in the AFC space, an active member of a number of leading industry associations including the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), the German Institute for Compliance (DICO), the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and as co-founder of the ACAMS Germany Chapter.

Hanley-Giersch headed the team within DICO, which prepared the working paper on risk assessment indicators for due diligence purposes. She is also a co-author of DICO’s business partner due diligence guidelines and AML guidance notes for goods traders.

Hanley-Giersch also works as a trainer for ACAMS, providing online and live training on a wide range of financial crime and compliance topics including investigations, sanctions, trade-based money laundering and cybercrime. She also co-authored the ACAMS KYC CDD Certificate course.

ACAMS Today: This year the theme for International Women’s Day is, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” On a regular day, what does it mean for you to think about equality, build smart solutions and innovate change—inside and outside the office?

Jennifer Hanley-Giersch: In my experience, mixed teams generate the best and most innovative results. Although men are often more visible than women, I try to make the effort to build a mixed project team. I also network with other like-minded women and men who see the advantages of facilitating a diverse and inclusive environment.

AT: You have been managing partner at Berlin Risk Limited for more than 10 years. What is your advice for someone that is just starting their career journey?

JHG: Although it is key to perform well on your job, it is equally as important to be part of a professional community so that you can develop your skills and build your network early on in your career. Reach out to colleagues and develop projects of joint interest. This is not only professionally rewarding, but also great fun and helps you to stay in touch with the breadth of topics relevant to the industry you are working in.

AT: At the ACAMS 15th Annual AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference - Europe, you will be speaking about managing high-risk clients. What are some strategies for working with international high-risk clients?

JHG: It is important to have a good risk assessment model in places that fit your organization’s risk appetite. The risk assessment model will help you define your residual risk and identify those high-risk clients in the first place. High-risk clients are the ones that warrant the most attention and scrutiny. Due diligence with integrity will help you drill down into the issues of concern and assess your risk exposure. Once you have identified key risks, you can put in place mitigation measures to manage the reputational risk in an adequate manner.

AT: As a regular ACAMS Today contributor and editorial committee member for both ACAMS Today and ACAMS Today Europe, where do you like to find stories and relevant topics for the European community?

JHG: Beyond the challenges faced by the AFC community on a daily basis, daily news reports, regulatory updates and white papers, peer-reviewed articles prepared by academics and think tanks are all good sources for identifying relevant topics for ACAMS readers.

AT: With more than 70,000 ACAMS’ members fighting financial crime worldwide, how can the ACAMS community enhance women’s empowerment?

HUS: I must say that ACAMS—as I have experienced the organization over the past ten years; has always been a very inclusive community overall and should be seen as something of a role model for other organizations. But of course, there is always room for improvement. I think we still need to see some more women heading respective departments within financial institutions not only to enhance empowerment, but also to drive the innovation necessary to prepare organizations to effectively combat financial crime in the emerging digital context.

Interviewed by: Stella M. Miranda, editorial assistant, ACAMS, Miami, FL, USA,

Editor’s Note: ACAMS Today is continuing to celebrate International Women’s Day throughout the month of March and also bringing awareness to CNN’s campaign on March 14 of #MyFreedomDay.

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