Years and years ago, I did a research project for one of the police agencies, and as part of it I was sent to Centrex – their “centre of excellence” in rural Cambridgeshire. As I remember, the macaroni cheese actually was excellent, but I always felt that there is something rather un-English, rather boastful and trumpetty, about calling something a “centre of excellence”. It is on my mind because last week the States of Guernsey announced that it is looking into setting up an anti-money laundering centre of excellence in Alderney. Details are thin on the ground at the moment, but the BBC reports that “the new office would provide compliance services for financial institutions and other firms dealing with wealthy clients, such as estate agents”, and that the plan is to open a pilot office in 2014.
With my future-planning hat on (it’s a rather dashing green velveteen number with a jaunty feather, thank you for asking), I am of course wondering what this means for those of us already beavering away in the world of AML. I’m not a centre of excellence, but I am a kernel of jolly hard work, and over my looooooong AML years I have seen several other trainers and consultants come and go. Personally I have always felt that there is plenty of work to go around, but a centre of excellence – particularly one with specific government support – is a different kettle of fish. Just as no-one was ever sacked for buying IBM, will Guernsey and Alderney regulated businesses feel that it is the politic choice to go with the government-approved (perhaps even government-funded) option?