Be a gatekeeper and keep money on the right track

Ümit Tiras - medior Anti-Money Laundering Analyst

Combine a healthy dose of curiosity, analytical ability and your professional judgment. "That really characterises an AML Analyst," says Ümit Tiras. He is a medior Anti-Money Laundering Analyst at Rabobank. "Why I do this work? As an AML Analyst, I contribute daily to the trust and security of our financial system. That's how I help the bank's mission. As a gatekeeper, I look at what is pure in our financial system. ”

“Whether we catch criminals?” Ümit smiles at the statement, “No … I don’t catch criminals. That’s not what an AML Analyst does. We are the gatekeepers of the financial system. We review suspicious transactions and report them to FIU, the police’s Financial Intelligence Unit. After that, it is up to the investigative authorities to take action if necessary. We are not chasing the criminals ourselves.”

After studying Financial Service Management, Ümit worked at various banks and in the mortgage industry. After a few years, he made the switch to KYC, Know Your Customer. “Mainly because I was very curious about the content of the field. I read information about the position and growth opportunities, and what I saw really appealed to me. That’s how I started as a junior AML Analyst.”

Ümit Tiras, Anti-Money Laundering Analyst at Rabobank, working at laptop

Customer contact and filing

“As a junior AML Analyst, you start with relatively simple files. A customer making cash deposits of remarkably large amounts. Striking because it does not fit the customer’s pattern, or because the customer themselves cannot explain the origin. We investigate the transactions and have contact with the customer to hear their side of the story. Based on the customer’s explanation, we assess whether the transaction is unusual or not.”

“I am now a medior AML Analyst in the Signals Department. The big difference between Alerts and Signals? At Alerts, you work with automated notifications, which come in when our financial systems see unusual transactions. Within Signals, you get the signals from other departments within the bank, such as CDD or Retail. A CDD Analyst has already done preliminary research, or an account manager is involved with knowledge of the customer. Our colleagues have separated the wheat from the chaff before coming to us.” Ümit turns in his chair and ponders, “Those signals take on more value through human judgment. That’s kind of striking, isn’t it? In a world that continues to digitize.”

I interact with the customer to hear the story behind the transactions.
Ümit Tiras - medior Anti Money Laundering Analist

Independent work

As the financial system is digitally driven, the complexity of records increases. Therein also lies the difference between a junior and medior analyst, according to Ümit. “As a medior analyst, your work will include cryptocurrency transactions, obscure money flows or network investigations. These are longer-term studies where we map out a network. Think of a large group of people who may want to do money laundering, who may be financing terrorism, or perhaps commit fraud.”

Ümit chooses his words carefully. “These are often confidential investigations, where multiple individuals or companies are doing transactions in different countries. We cannot give too many details about that, and it requires a lot of nuance and tact.”

So a little bit like being a detective after all? “It does seem that way sometimes, yes. But you need strong analytical skills and don’t mind doing individual work. You will independently research transactions, as well as write reports. You can, of course, ask colleagues for help, and especially with less experienced colleagues, we often work with the four-eye principle on a report. An experienced colleague then proofreads your findings and helps you get better.”

Ümit considers professional judgment an important trait for a good Anti-Money Laundering analyst. “As an analyst, can you explain why a transaction fits a customer view, can you back up the factual information with your own assessment? You learn that mainly through a lot of experience. In addition, it helps to be curious, wanting and not be afraid to keep asking questions. If I wasn’t curiously inclined, I wouldn’t last long in this job.”

Can you learn those skills? Ümit thinks so. “Part of it has to do with your character, but in our KYC Campus you learn a lot of analytical skills and how to review files.”

Would you like to work in the KYC field?

Ümit Tiras, Anti-Money Laundering Analyst, having a conversation

Open Source Intelligence research

“KYC Campus is a 20-week internal training programme for both analysts and team leads. Here you will learn how our systems work and how to research a customer. For example, through public source surveys, OSINT.By using OSINT, you can collect public information about companies, individuals and agencies. You collect data from public sources, including the Internet, books, publications and reports.

New methodologies are developing at lightning speed. This is why we keep our knowledge up to date via e-learnings and why I keep up with news items on various websites such as DNB. I sometimes listen to podcasts that give an insight into our field. From the bank, you will receive a training budget. This allows you to shape your own career path. Rabobank provides the time and budget, but you decide which way you want to go in consultation with your manager.”

Ümit is far from finished with his career at KYC. The training budget allows him to continuously develop. “I am currently a medior and would like to advance to a senior role. I will gain even more expertise in my field and I can help my colleagues with complex cases. And I can add value to my role at Rabobank by improving processes in our work. The gatekeeper role of the AML Analyst can always be better!

AML is part of the KYC profession