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Compliance, Financial Crime, Women in FinCrime

REACTION: Momentum grows behind campaign to get more women in leadership roles in global FinCrime

OUTCRY: The "men-only" FATF summit which led to stinging criticism last September.

By Stephen Rae, AML Intelligence Publisher

DEMANDS grew this week for women to be represented at the very top echelons of global fincrime agencies and strategy. It follows the diverstiy and inclusion campaign launched by AML Intelligence.

It comes in the wake of the financial crime summit in Singapore last month in which women were barely visible.

AML Intelligence writer and digital editor Elizabeth Hearst said photographs from the conference showed how badly represented women were at the top table in the Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) sector. “Honestly this photograph could have been taken 50 years ago,” Elizabeth wrote of the conference image which showed ranks of suited men on the summit staircase.

Her views of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Interpol ‘FIRE’ (FATF Interpol Roundtable Engagement) event in Singapore drew a huge reaction on social media and in calls and emails to the AML Intelligence offices.

In her column Elizabeth wrote that both agencies must address the gender imbalance immediately and put a strategy in place to ensure women are properly represented at the highest level.

Readers and commentators on social media overwhelmingly backed her demands.

Global Head of Financial Crime and Compliance Business Control and Oversight at Deutsche Bank, Patricia Sullivan said: “By all accounts this FATF/INTERPOL event was a good step forward in fighting financial crime and well done to all, but indeed it is hard not to notice the gender diversity disparity.”

She added: “Truthfully if you brought together the Global Heads of FinCrime at the major banks for a photo now it would look similar. Same for many of our partner groups.”

“Don’t get me wrong there are and have been some outstanding women leading FinCrime programmes and agencies… So how do we change this photo for upcoming years, grow the bench, and make sure the ladder is not pulled up behind?” 

“When organising events/panels proactively seek diverse reps, if you are invitee, ask/recommend others to join, mentor juniors in your team, insist on diverse hiring panels/diverse final shortlist for open roles in your organisations. We can make a difference together,” she said. 

Similarly, Charmian Simmons, Financial Crime and Compliance Expert at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence said: “When a picture tells more than one story – it’s up to the audience to decide what they see.”

“There are so many amazing and smart women working in this field, at various management levels. Perhaps it is time for the AFC industry to do what Banking has been doing – greater gender equality in senior roles,” added Charmian. 

Sujata Dasgupta, Global Head of Financial Crime Compliance Advisory at TCS revealed that a recent report highlighted that women made up just 14% of the FinCrime and Compliance space, which was “way below the industry average”, and added that “this number needs to increase.”

Sarah Tariq, Specialist Advisor for AFC & Compliance added: “It is about time women in the industry appear on various platforms with the immense talent that is present.”

AML & Compliance Manager at KPMG, Shiraz Inbar commented: “Where are all the women indeed?”

She added: “As a woman working in the AML and Compliance sphere, this is more than upsetting, especially where there are so many great, talented, and smart women out there doing the exact same work and leading the financial industry to global recognition and achievements.”

John Cusack, Chair of the Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime was at the event and commented: “Whilst a picture speaks a thousand words, (and it struck me too when I saw it but I was closer to the front! I don’t remember anyone pushing or shoving either) most of those men were in listening mode at least in Day 1 which makes a change!”

He added: “I agree we must do much better, but at least the photo wasn’t stage managed, except for the front line.”

“If I wanted to do a shout out to the many amazing senior women in fighting financial crime, I could name a 100 off the bat, but I agree, more thought needs to go into messaging and support for all the talents. Good call out,” said Mr Cusack. 

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