Training matters

Roland Guennou explains why training the trade finance community to fight financial crime is vital

Roland Guennou is Managing Partner at OSACO Financial and a member of the ICA’s external faculty.

Back in the summer of 2019 the EBRD joined forces with the International Compliance Association (ICA) to deliver a series of trade-based money laundering (TBML) training sessions. I had the pleasure of facilitating the first two such events on 5 May and 1 August in Morocco and Tunisia, respectively.

During highly interactive workshops, participants bolstered their knowledge of the legal and regulatory aspects of money laundering prevention, trade finance vulnerabilities and trade-based laundering typologies.

The sessions also covered the broader financial crime landscape of sanctions, dual-use goods, and bribery and corruption.

The course finished with a review of how the risk-based approach and relevant controls such as customer due diligence and suspicious activity detection play a critical part in the application of anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism measures.

Where risk assessment, effective controls and mitigation of financial crime risks are much more important than uniform checks, undertaking relevant training is key to improving the impact of financial crime compliance overall.

Specifically, I can see three key areas where investing in professional development can make a real difference.

Focusing on outcomes

Trade finance is, like market activities, a transactional and time-sensitive business. Anyone involved in it can easily become caught in the daily grind of processes, systems and tick boxes, and lose sight of the key objectives of financial crime compliance (FCC).

Quality FCC training takes participants away from the daily pressure of “doing” and helps them to see why these controls matter and what makes them effective process participants.

Building a sense of common purpose

It is easy for relationship managers and operations and compliance officers to operate in silo under business processes designed to maximise throughput and efficiency.

But it is when these functions work together that financial crime can be best understood, spotted and prevented. Training sessions where members of each function come together to share experiences create an invaluable sense of common purpose and willingness to progress as a team.

Growing together as professionals

FCC is constantly evolving and various organisations provide thought leadership on the challenges posed to trade finance by organised crime and how to effectively apply the regulatory arsenal to combat TBML.

Cutting-edge training always focuses on the institutions and resources available to FCC professionals to continue their development, from supranational bodies such as the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force, to industry forums and the thematic work of leading national regulators.

Looking beyond the rules and processes, preventing financial crime is most often about exercising sound judgement when confronted with a new or unexpected situation. By helping the trade finance community keep its eyes on relevant outcomes, work as a team and grow as a community, professional training is playing a key role in improving the effectiveness of FCC programmes.

Looking beyond the rules and processes, preventing financial crime is most often about exercising sound judgement.

Roland Guennou