I attended the Ark Group Annual AML Conference in London yesterday to speak on the panel about the challenges for MLROs who are also fee earners in their firm.
The session posed questions to the audience, and we, the panel, put our two penneth in.
Joining me on the panel was Alex Ktorides from Ince Gordon Dadds, Colette Best from the SRA and the chair was my Taskforce colleague Guy Wilkes
The first question was about how challenging MLROs find combining their compliance obligations and fee earning roles.
Most voted very challenging, (4 out of 5), which I absolutely agree it can be. Interestingly, if unsurprisingly, nobody voted it not challenging!
The main points I shared were:
Culture is key - without strong support and a culture of buying into Compliance you will fail. If we fail to tackle non compliance in firms, our compliance programmes will collapse! Colette agreed, where a firm has a person who refuses to comply, they will expect a firm to deal with it and may themselves deal with that individual.
Don’t put things in your policies which you know don’t work - don’t set yourself up to fail. Check things work, introduce controls so you know things work. Don’t leave things for the SRA to discover. Make sure people can make an assessment of risk when you ask them to, don’t say people can’t open a file without the client ID if you know that’s impossible.
Have controls so you aren’t caught out. Audit the controls. If you let fee earners open a file before client ID is completed, make sure you’ve set a deadline and that that is monitored and enforced.
Litigation need to know too! Don’t forget to make sure your litigation teams also have AML training and appreciate the risk that on boarding a client they are happy to deal with may cause AML issues if they also instruct the firm to carry out transactions.
Get a process in place for source of funds and source of wealth. Tell your teams they won’t spot money laundering if they think the extent of their obligations is to get a passport and utility bill, that’s doesn’t prevent money laundering #baddieslivesomewhere!