ABA Banking Journal - October 2008 - (Page 58)
Compliance Clinic Put your BSA/AML program into shape Better BSA exams start by giving your existing program a tough once-over H ow seriously does your bank’s workforce take Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering duties? As an indicator of the compliance atmosphere in your shop, when was the last time one of your employees failed a Bank Secrecy Act test? Not a real-life test, such as someone attempting to structure deposits. But rather, when was the last time a new employee, or an experienced employee receiving refresher training, failed one of the bank’s own BSA/AML quizzes? Chances are, suggested Brian J. Wimpling, everyone who takes your bank’s tests passes. While this may send employees back to the front lines with some confidence in their ability to detect potential laundering or terrorist activity, it should give a compliance officer pause, said the former law enforcement agent who is currently senior vicepresident, BSA Department for $2.6 billion-assets Capital City Bank, Tallahassee, Fla. Is the bank’s training so ironclad and foolproof that everyone is passing simply because they really know all about this arcane area absolutely cold? asked Wimpling. Or, more typically, was the test pitched to produce passing grades? Hold them accountable “You’ve got to think of what your bank is trying to accomplish” with its training, Wimpling told listeners at the ABA Regulatory Compliance Conference earlier this year. If everyone is passing with flying colors, the bank may not be testing them hard enough. In the end, it may not be training them hard enough. What caused Wimpling to begin thinking this way was a personal review of the last 30 major government enforcement actions dealing with BSA/AML problems. He said he noted that lack of adequate training surfaced in every one of the cases. Training, whether for staff, officers, or directors, is only a piece of a bank’s BSA/AML compliance effort, said Wimpling, By Steve Cocheo, executive editor 58 OCTOBER 2008/ABA BANKING JOURNAL but it’s a major piece. He believes that it must be backed up to protect the bank from gaps that may be there from the start, or that develop over time. One means of providing that backup is to show employees where in their organization they can find additional help and answers when confronted with BSA/AML challenges. Another is to backstop employees in high-turnover positions, such as the teller line, with automation that can make up for areas where they lack sufficient practical experience or didn’t “get it” when they received their training. Wimpling’s fellow panelist Anna M. Rentschler suggested that employees ought to be held accountable for poor compliance performance. “If you are going to have the carrot, you have to have the stick,” said Rentschler, vice-president and BSA officer, at Central Bancompany, an $8.5 billion-assets, 13-bank holding company headquartered in Jefferson City, Mo. She suggested that customer service representatives who earn sales incentives should be denied that extra pay if their compliance record is poor. Rentschler said they shouldn’t be rewarded if the compliance department must later “clean up their messes.” Taking a fresh, hard look at the bank’s BSA/AML program, and acting on the answers to the questions asked and answered, was the theme of a conference session that Wimpling and Rentschler presented. They were joined by Dan D. Soto, compliance managing director for anti-money-laundering and Bank Secrecy Act compliance, at Wachovia, Charlotte, N.C. The trio’s theme was “AML Program Tuneup.” Does what you have work? Rentschler pointed out that one of the basics of BSA compliance is whether the bank’s program fits its situation, in terms of client base, market conditions, and local knowledge. In small towns, she noted, where everyone knows everyone, there is a natural awareness of what’s going on in town—and who’s going through town—that staffs at larger institutions don’t enjoy. On the other hand, she pointed out that sometimes smaller communities are surprised to find out that they have a drug problem Subscribe at www.ababj.com
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