Goldilocks and guidance

As regular readers will know, I am most active in five jurisdictions: UK, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar.  I can – and do – work in other places, but I feel most comfortable when I know the local (AML) legislation almost by heart, and can talk with some confidence about the priorities and concerns of the local regulator and the local FIU.  You might think that my set of five jurisdictions is, in AML terms, all but indistinguishable one from the other.  Certainly they all have UK (and therefore EU) derived AML legislation and (for the most part) appetites, but there are significant differences despite that.  And one of the most individual things about each of them is their AML guidance.

One of the services I offer is the writing of AML policies and procedures.  I love doing it, because I enjoy crafting clear and helpful prose, and because I relish the puzzle of fitting a firm’s distinctive AML approach with the local legislative and regulatory demands.  And in my dizzier moments I dream of being asked to help with the drafting of a jurisdiction’s AML guidance.  I know it will never happen – as an independent, commercial provider, I do not represent any of the professional bodies that are traditionally asked to contribute.  But how I would love to get my red pen onto those A4 folders…

Surprisingly – to me, at least – there has been no model set of AML guidance produced.  No one jurisdiction has done it so well that all the others have closed their laptops, capped their pens and said, “We might as well just copy theirs and localise it” (with permission, of course).  And even across “my” little set of five quite closely connected jurisdictions, I see huge differences in their guidance.  Some are wordy beyond belief, while others are sparing to the point of uncertainty.  Some come in many flavours across the regulated sector, while others offer one set for all.  Some are regularly and carefully updated, while others simply tack new bits on the end and hope that people can navigate to them.  It’s like those three bears and their porridge.  I read them all, of course (sets of guidance, not bears), and always offer my opinion when they go out to consultation (some do, some don’t).  And in my training, I am not above saying, “Look, this isn’t your guidance at all, but I think they say it best here.”

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2 Responses to Goldilocks and guidance

  1. CDWOS says:

    Susan,
    Interesting. Like you I have spent much of my time as the “AML Guru or Subject Matter Expert” and therefore responsible for writing AML Policies, procedures, Interpretation and Guidance and would suggest that they will never copy from each other as they would be unable to say “these are our rules and you must follow them”. A tad cynical maybe but I have been in the finance since the early 70s and seen what is done by one to another in the name of money or should I say profit?!

    • Thank you for your comment, Charles, and welcome to the blog. That’s an explanation I hadn’t considered – perhaps regulators do need to give the impression that their interpretation of their legislation is entirely unique and tailored to their jurisdiction. But I do wonder how differently we can suggest people might tackle standard due diligence issues such as a PO Box address, or an attempted transaction!
      Best wishes from Susan

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