Rapid examination of real-time international payments traffic

Maarten - Senior Analist

Thousands of transactions from around the world: Maarten and his colleagues see them on their screens every day. With 30 analysts, they examine global payments. And as an avid traveller, international transactions quickly come to life for Martin. "A payment from Vietnam or a bank name from Colombia. Every time, I see a transaction that reminds me of my travels. That gives my work an extra dimension."

Exclude sanction risk

Maarten is a Senior Analyst in the Transaction Filtering and Name Screening Sanctions team. “We screen the entire international payments system. All global transactions go through a filter and in some cases produce alerts. For example, when certain information in a transaction corresponds to sanctioned entities, such as companies or individuals, or when countries subject to economic sanctions are involved. Sometimes it happens that a name does not match, so we check that too. We review those transactions and must eliminate sanction risk. Why? Those sanctions on certain countries or entities are there for a reason, those measures are often taken in response to a violation or threat to international peace and security.”

“We play an important role in complying with those sanction laws and regulations. You can think of Rabobank as the gatekeeper of the financial system, and we are committed to complying with integrity standards and sanctions regulations. We also have checks to prevent our customers and our bank from (unknowingly) violating measures.”

Maarten Noordhoff working at computer

Research in real time

“Our work is real-time: while a transaction is under investigation with us, it will not be executed. Our team researches and processes transactions between 7:30 am and 6:00 pm. We have divided that time into shifts; so there are always colleagues working during those hours to review the alerts.”

“If an alert is too complex to review quickly, it goes to colleagues who are not on alert duty at the time. They can do more extensive research. This includes requesting additional information from foreign banks or our customers.”

Previous function

“In the five years I’ve been doing this work, I’ve grown from someone who knew nothing about transaction monitoring to senior analyst. How I did that? I am naturally curious and interested in the field. I took several internal and external training courses, and I learned a lot from experienced colleagues. Not only in my department, but also outside of it. For example, we regularly spar over sanction cases that we handle.”

“When I started, finance was not new to me. I worked at a local Rabobank in a commercial position and had a lot of contact with customers. In recent years, my advisory role became smaller, the role of local banks changed. I wanted to learn something new again! I was quite nervous at first, but I liked my first job at CDD. Looking for a needle in the haystack, making connections and doing research. I like to bite into a puzzle.”

I love the international nature of my work.
Maarten - Senior Analist

International character

“Thanks to my many travels, I regularly recognise place names and banks I encounter in transactions. From Thailand to Norway; all these foreign currencies are no stranger to me. The fact that I know so many countries also sometimes helps with faster background searches on a particular report – not unimportant when you are working in real time. The sooner we have an answer, the better.”

“It also works the other way around: through my work, I am more involved in what is happening in the world. What you see on the news hits closer to home. Global developments often influence my work. I follow international news in a very different way than I did five years ago. What does this development mean for the alerts I will see tomorrow?”

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Maarten Noordhoff, senior analyst, having a conversation

Geopolitical tensions

“Take the situation in Ukraine, for example. Our work has increased significantly as a result. Financial and economic sanctions cause us to monitor transactions that previously did not generate alerts. In addition, economic sanctions have expanded and become much more complex. Not only is it more work, but it also impacts our work instructions and processes.”

“In the past year our team has grown tremendously, we used to be with 15 and now there are more than 30 of us. But it is still very busy. The junior analysts, of course, must also be properly trained and supervised. We invest in that; this work has a steep learning curve , so we are looking for people who are quick witted. As a new colleague, you will be trained by two experienced colleagues who have specialised in this field. And you also get a buddy on the team. I myself am a buddy for some new team members, if they get stuck in their work process they can come to me. Good guidance always pays off.”

“Despite it being busy, the atmosphere in our team is good. We organise team outings and in the mornings and afternoons, all team members meet virtually. Then we discuss where we stand and where we can support each other. Cooperation is important, we should be able to take over work from each other without hesitation. Especially when it is so busy. Therefore, we are looking for true team players, not soloists. Other important traits for analysts on our team? Real time work means hard deadlines: you have to be able to deal with that. And of course, typical analyst skills such as structured work and a keen eye are indispensable.”

AML is part of the KYC expertise