ACAMS Today spoke with Ted Weissberg, CEO of ACAMS to get his thoughts on training, ACAMS and other matters.
Prior to joining ACAMS in 2009, Weissberg was president of the Information and Training unit of Fortent, Inc. and spent 15 years at Thomson Financial in various editorial, publishing and general management roles, including president of Thomson’s Venture Economics unit. In total, Weissberg has worked in the information and training field for more than 25 years. Weissberg is a graduate of Wesleyan University. He has authored two books, a biography of Arthur Ashe, and an exposé of NCAA sports scandals.
ACAMS Today: How did you first become interested in the financial crime field?
Ted Weissberg: I started working in the field in the end of 2005. I knew very little about financial crime before then, but I quickly became fascinated by it.
AT: What has surprised you most about working in the compliance industry?
TW: The level of cooperation and camaraderie among people in the industry. I had never seen so much collaboration among professionals at competing organizations. It quickly became clear to me that the people in this industry feel deeply that they are doing important work, both for their employers and for our society as a whole, and that they are perfectly happy to share their practices and strategies with peers, knowing that they may learn something valuable in the give and take.
AT: As CEO of ACAMS, what do you hope to accomplish in the next couple of years?
TW: I am very happy with the course ACAMS is on and I want to continue that and see through the initiatives we’re working on today. For example, I want ACAMS to continue to globalize, and I expect in a couple of years’ time about half of our membership will reside outside of the U.S. I also want to encourage the continued rapid growth of membership. We’re up around 18,000 now, which is about double where we were three years ago. And I want to continue to introduce new training programs, conferences, certifications and other tools to meet the emerging needs of the industry.
AT: When you attend ACAMS’ conferences around the world, what is the most common theme you hear discussed amongst the compliance professionals?
TW: Perhaps the most enduring theme, regardless of the regulatory demands of the day or the region, is the sense that the jobs of our members are becoming more difficult and bigger all the time, and that the stakes keep getting higher.
AT: What is one of your favorite products that ACAMS offers?
TW: It’s hard to choose just one; we love all our children. The CAMS certification program is at the core of what we do and has played an important role in professionalizing the industry. I’m very proud to be a part of that. I am also very excited about ACAMS Risk Assessment, a tool that we will be launching in the fall to help financial institutions conduct their AML risk assessments more easily and according to an industry standard. The first product that I was involved with was a predecessor to Moneylaundering.com, so I have a soft spot in my heart for that excellent information resource. And, of course, ACAMS Today!
AT: In your 25 years of experience in the information and training field, what is the key to building a successful training program?
TW: Getting smart, experienced professionals to tell you what they need, listening closely, asking good questions, and then doing your best to meet those needs — and then adapting the program often and thoughtfully. I also have found that teaching through case studies, whenever possible, is both engaging and effective.
AT: You have authored two books in the sports field. Are you planning on writing another book and if so will it be in the sports genre?
TW: I think my days of book writing are past. I’m too busy. But if I were to take it up again, I wouldn’t write another sports book. Maybe I’d try a crime novel instead … with an AML compliance officer hero, of course. Detailed descriptions of KYC processes and transaction monitoring policies always sell books, right?
Interviewed by: Karla Monterrosa-Yancey, CAMS, editor-in-chief, ACAMS, Miami, FL, USA, email@example.com