I met quite a few new people at the weekend, and this always involves explaining what I do for a living. Never mind the elevator pitch: I can explain it in the time it takes to select your floor button. “I advise institutions on how to spot criminal money, and what to do if they think they have spotted it.” Now, you know and I know that what I do is much more varied and interesting than that, but that satisfies most people.
What I find is that I generally get one of three reactions. The first I will ignore, because I have ranted about it before. (These are the people who blame AML for the fact that their granny was asked to take her passport into the bank she has used since 1876.) The second response is: “My, how interesting, but what I do is so much more fascinating, so let’s talk about me instead.” OK, so they don’t actually say those words, but that’s the net result. You can guarantee that these people will take the big bit of pudding as well – they’re just that type. And the third response I get is: “How exciting! Do you get to storm into banks and arrest people?” I’d really like to say yes to this, as it sounds rather good, but honesty requires me to explain that I am on the prevention side of things, and that generally, if the police are storming your bank and snapping on the rubber gloves, you should not waste your one permitted phone call on me.
But it does make me wonder whether I would have liked to follow that career instead – in the same way as I sometimes daydream about being a lawyer. But the truth is that self-employment suits me, so I’m guessing that a hierarchical organisation such as the police force or a law firm would not. And the whenever I do those “find out what makes you happy” questionnaires (come on – they’re in every women’s magazine as least three times a year), it’s always the same results: teaching, writing and Jaffa Cakes. Short of running the training department at McVitie’s, I’m in the perfect job.