These are very odd times: on the one hand, my daily life has slowed considerably, with elements of “Groundhog Day” about it, while on the other it is all but impossible to keep up with the fast-changing advice and requirements about the pandemic. I have resisted blogging about recommendations from regulators and the like about keeping up with CDD efforts, as it seems to alter by the day. But I have been wondering whether there are actually benefits of doing our AML work remotely.
For instance, we humans are herd-like in more than our immunity. We also tend to mimic the work patterns and methods of those around us: if your desk-neighbour always uses a particular website to check PEP background information, you might just copy him. But if you’re left to your own devices, sitting alone at your dining table at home with only the cat to suggest how to do the best Google searches, might you come up with an alternative that is better, or more illuminating, or simply useful to have as corroboration? If you’re not fitting in with the working patterns of those around you, perhaps you’ll come at something from a new angle. And without the distraction of phone calls by desk-neighbours and invitations to the tea-room to celebrate someone’s birthday or the lure of the lunch-time wander through town, do we have more focused time to spend on AML enquiries and research?
One definite benefit I have found is that it is much easier to pin people down for phone calls or training. An enormous challenge for MLROs trying to organise training is getting all the relevant people in one place at the same time – a challenge that is magnified if the organisation is international, or if the people are very senior. But nowadays, it’s a doddle: everyone’s at home. No-one’s on holiday, or attending a conference, or even stuck at the airport waiting for a delayed flight. And as an added bonus, you get to see everyone’s taste in interior design: that scary CEO might seem less frightening once you’ve seen her treasured collection of knitted bunnies in the background.
(If you’re struggling with working alone at home for the first time, you can get regular tips on surviving – and perhaps even enjoying – the experience from the Facebook page that accompanies my book “The Solo Squid: How to Run a Happy One-Person Business”.)
This article is true. People I call respond quicker, not distracted by, er, going to and from work, or meeting people there.