Utilizing social collaboration tools and techniques can work wonders for your business, so long as you send out the right message on the right platform, says Brian Ware of First National Community Bank.
You wouldn't know it, but bank compliance professionals are very social people. We spend a lot of time getting to know the people and systems that make a bank run smoothly, so we can better understand bank operations as they relate to the laws and statutes that regulate our industry. As we observe what our institution does on a daily basis, we also look for opportunities to ensure we comply with the law, while maximizing customer satisfaction and shareholder value. Often this requires us to conduct research, and develop innovative approaches to achieve that delicate balance between compliance, risk and profitability.
As part of the research process, it's a good idea to seek out people in similar circumstances, but where do you find large groups of compliance professionals and experts to discuss the regulatory challenges facing the banking industry and to benefit from their experience? Conferences? Seminars? Although they are definitely examples of large gatherings of like-minded and experienced professionals, there is rarely an opportunity to really sit down with a large group and discuss issues and best practices during breaks and meals. A better solution is social collaboration through the Internet.
Facebook and MySpace are great examples of social collaboration in a non-business setting, and there are several examples of similar networks to exchange experience and ideas about issues and challenges in the business world. A few I use regularly are Bankers Online, LinkedIn and the Association of Anti-Money Laundering Specialists. Each offers a unique opportunity to discuss banking compliance challenges and create an environment conducive to innovation and creative solutions to those challenges.
Bankers Online is a website made by bankers for bankers. In addition to the volumes of reference and research material relating to banking laws and regulations, it has a great message board and forum used to discuss a wide range of banking topics such as operations, technology, government relations/compliance and lending, to name a few. You can post messages and respond to others, helping each gain new perspectives and approaches to the regulatory challenges we face every day. There are also recognized experts that will help steer you in the right direction along the way.
Although LinkedIn is generally considered a professional networking website, I've found the 'Groups' feature to be particularly helpful. They are general industry specific, and often you can find narrow groups relating to niche areas of the financial services industry, like anti-money laundering, or audit, or compliance management. These groups will sometimes post questions or polls to its members about issues important to the group. It's another great opportunity to connect with other banking professionals to debate issues of the day.
The Association of Anti-Money Laundering Specialists is a more specific type of professional network. Most of the participants are certified members with specific anti-money laundering and risk management experience. It has a similar group-focused format as LinkedIn, but the topics usually cover banking risks like terrorist financing, customer verification, and anti-money laundering issues. But again, it's a great place to collaborate with banking professionals with a focus on the operational, compliance, reputational and liquidity risks associated with those that use banks to further criminal or terrorist activity.
As the burden of increased government regulation and expanded oversight puts pressure on the banking industry to change and overhaul its practices, the ability for compliance professionals to collaborate with other banking and compliance professionals throughout the United States and the world will become even more critical. Whether it's to gather and form cohesive strategies to guide the legislature in producing effective banking regulations, or to discuss creative and cost-effective solutions to comply with those government regulations, leveraging the power of the internet and the professional networks and resources available will significantly improve your ability to recognize issues and react to the changing landscape of the financial services industry.
Brian L. Ware, Esq. CAMS, is First Senior Vice President, Compliance Division Manager at First National Community Bank. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law and graduated from The University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), specializing in Banking/Corporate Regulatory Law and Government Relations.