The branch we’re sitting on

Featured articles

The enmity between sales forces and compliance departments, particularly those in charge of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, is no mystery to anyone.

But why? What explains this opposition, even conflict, between those responsible for developing the company’s sales and those charged with ensuring that the company does not work with criminals and/or terrorist financiers?

First of all, it’s important to understand that all companies subject to anti-money laundering laws and regulations are commercial companies. This means they have no divine right to survive or develop.

This essential aspect has two kinds of consequences: Firstly, their survival is based on winning and retaining customers. Secondly, the managers and salespeople of these companies are necessarily ” customer-side “, and this point is fundamental to understand.

Indeed, whether we’re talking about banks, insurance companies or brokers, lawyers or chartered accountants, their added value, their “plus” over their competitors, is precisely their ability to understand their customers’ issues and offer them customized solutions. It is precisely because of this level of expertise and information that these professions are subject to scrutiny by the anti-money laundering authorities. We call this K.Y.C. or Know Your Customer.

The question that arises, once we accept this reality, is: ” Can we be both customer-oriented and looking for optimal solutions ” while at the same time being ” suspicious and looking for leads indicating money laundering and/or terrorist financing “?

It’s in the answer to this question that the opinions of compliance officers and sales forces diverge sharply from the outset. Of course we need customers, but we can’t risk the company’s future by serving customers who launder money and/or finance terrorist acts. “.

It’s almost schizophrenic to be building a relationship of trust with a prospect, while at the same time asking suspicious questions – it’s the chronicle of the death of a sale foretold !

We have to admit that everyone, in their own bubble of information and professional objectives, is right. Indeed, sales people, even at the highest level, are concerned with the survival and development of their company, and with maximizing sales.

Compliance Officers share the same concern for the survival and development of the company, but are aware of the dramatic consequences for an entity of becoming embroiled in a case of money laundering or even terrorist financing. It’s true that in the event of involvement, the civil consequences are criminal and the marketing consequences appalling.

Imagine if the press revealed that a particular law firm, life insurance broker or financial institution had been convicted by a criminal court of financing terrorism? What kind of SME can recover from such a situation?

It is therefore appropriate to state that salespeople who disregard their duty to carry out due diligence on their prospects are sawing off the branch on which they and their compliance “preventers” are sitting.

And yet, the fear of seeing prospects “flee” from an “over-policed” approach to the discovery of needs can be heard and understood. Being both a salesperson and an investigator is by no means an easy or natural thing to do, especially in a highly competitive business world where sales targets are constantly being raised.

Nevertheless, the fundamental values shared by Sales Forces and Compliance Officers are clear from these few lines: an obsession with the survival and long-term development of the company for which they all work.

Perhaps what remains to be done is to find a painless and odorless methodology enabling sales forces to carry out their due diligence without their prospects noticing, especially as most AML/CFT laws and regulations formally prohibit salespeople from giving their customers the slightest clue as to their anti-money laundering or anti-terrorist financing approach – this would be considered complicity.

One question remains: “Where’s the line between being a customer side, finding customized solutions and being a partner? “The answer is simple:
The source of the funds

They may or may not be of criminal origin.

Internet Explorer shutdown

Dear users, on 15/06/2022 Internet Explorer will be retiring. To avoid any malfunctioning, we invite you to install another browser, such as Google Chrome, by clicking here, or the one of your choice.

Please check this before contacting us in the event of a problem.