I’ve had an epiphany. I’ve been training people for a quarter of a century now – longer, if you count the innocent young minds once given over to me by the National Curriculum – and I’ve realised something important. I don’t like interactive training. Let me qualify: I don’t like role playing or group scenarios or breakout rooms. I don’t think they work or are necessary in the AML environment. Sometimes a client will say that they want the training to be “very interactive” so that staff can “practise their AML skills”. AML skills? You mean reading and writing and thinking and talking to their colleagues? I can understand that a pilot or a surgeon or a chef might need refresher interactive training to practise their skills, which have a significant motor component to them, but AML?
My version of interactive training is different. I encourage – love, even demand by shameless nagging – questions and debate. I enjoy presenting and discussing money laundering case studies, and situations where AML responses have been deficient. And in long training sessions, I always suggest including a money laundering themed game for light relief. But to create – as I am sometimes asked to – a money laundering worked example that people can use for practice seems to me to be worthless. For a start, for it to be anywhere near realistic and complicated enough to stretch them, it would need to be played out over days, even weeks, rather than in thirty minutes. And it would require role play – someone to be the difficult client, someone to be the unbelieving director – and if your staff had wanted to be actors, they wouldn’t have taken jobs in the regulated sector. These are the readers, writers and thinkers of our community – not the actors or the detectives.
So what do I see as my training role, if not as a facilitator of practice sessions? Well, I think that people have plenty of time in their jobs to practise their AML reading, writing and thinking skills – they do that all day long. What they don’t have time to do is research all the latest AML trends, techniques, regulatory thinking, legislative plans, government pronouncements, cases and scandals, and then decide which of these are relevant to their jobs. So that’s what I do for them: I distil all of that information and present it to them in a digestible form so that they can absorb the nuggets that are of most value. I tell them about it, and I encourage them to ask questions about it and consider its significance for them and their work. In short, I am paid to be a know-it-all on their behalf.