ACAMS Today chatted with Melissa Triplett, CAMS-Audit on maintaining an inclusive workplace and working with the ACAMS San Diego-Baja California Chapter. Triplett is currently the senior vice president, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer for Pacific Western Bank. She has more than 21 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry. Triplett has significant experience in anti-money laundering (AML) and BSA laws, regulations and best practices.
Prior to joining Pacific Western Bank, Triplett held the positions of vice president BSA officer at California Business Bank and assistant vice president BSA analyst at Seacoast Commerce Bank. Before these roles, she held operations and management positions at Union Bank of California and North Island Credit Union.
Triplett is a founder and co-chair of the ACAMS San Diego-Baja California Chapter. Prior to the ACAMS San Diego-Baja California Chapter’s inception, she served as programming director for the ACAMS Southern California Chapter. As a chapter co-chair, she identifies, develops and promotes educational and networking programs to industry experts and law enforcement professionals in the AML and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) fields.
Triplett also serves as the president of the Abrigo (formally Bankers Toolbox) West Coast User Group and played a pivotal role in the group’s implementation. She has been an ACAMS member since 2013 and has been a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) since March 2014. Melissa obtained her CAMS-Audit designation in 2019.
ACAMS Today: What led you to a career in anti-financial crime?
Melissa Triplett: My banking career began in 1999. As I advanced in banking (from teller to financial services to operations management), a BSA position became available at a local community bank. The investigations I often encountered while in my operational roles had always piqued my interest. Transitioning to BSA came very naturally to me.
AT: The International Women’s Day theme this year is “choose to challenge.” How do you choose to challenge inequality in the workplace?
MT: Take action. I am extremely passionate about maintaining an inclusive workplace. I have served on my bank’s diversity and inclusion council (PRISM) since 2019. I am currently serving as one of the co-chairs of the PRISM council this year. In 2021 we have celebrated Black History Month and Women’s History Month. We also plan to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Pride Month, Native American Heritage Month and Diversity Week. These events all provide opportunities for dialogue so that employees will understand the importance of equity and inclusion in the workplace.
AT: What can the anti-financial crime (AFC) industry do to provide equal opportunities for women?
MT: The industry should continue to leverage opportunities such as International Women’s Day to recognize the powerful women in the AFC field. The industry should also consistently provide training and networking events that partner senior-level mentors with those looking to advance in the field.
AT: Is there another woman in the AFC industry that has inspired you or helped you get to where you are today?
MT: I have been extremely fortunate to have many female mentors throughout my career in AFC. Maleka Ali has been an inspiration to me from the beginning. Maleka is a subject-matter expert on all things AFC and is always willing to be a sounding board for me. Maleka is currently the president of Arc-Serv, which is an independent consulting firm specializing in BSA, fraud, enhanced due diligence, Office of Foreign Assets Control and risk management compliance.
AT: Tell us about a memorable moment in your career.
MT: Founding and launching the ACAMS San Diego-Baja California Chapter is definitely a highlight. I am extremely proud of the chapter and in awe of the caliber of events we have been able to provide to our community since inception. Our chapter board is a diverse group of AML experts who work flawlessly together, whether we are working on programming for events, volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House or (most recently) hosting virtual learning events!
AT: Do you have a favorite quote or words of wisdom to share with our readership?
MT: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” This quote has allowed me to say yes to opportunities I may have otherwise been averse to. Those opportunities have opened the door to where I am today which also leads me to another favorite quote: “No risk, no reward.”
Interviewed by: ACAMS Today staff, ACAMS, Miami, FL, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org