December 8, 2020

Welcome to the second installment of our “Who We Are” series of interviews with the “cape-less crusaders” who arduously fight financial crime. This week we chat with Daniel Polar, Director, Financial Crime Compliance Consultants, here at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions.

Dan shares how he created a department known as the Customer Identification Unit (CIU) as a direct result of 9/11 for the bank he had been working for in 2001. That tragic event spurred Dan into action to implement a process that verified the identity of every customer and business. Dan fortunately brought his expertise and knowledge to LexisNexis Risk Solutions in 2005 – and we are privileged to have him on the FCC team.

Dan Polar

How long have you been with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Dan?

15 years.

Tell us about your job.

I lead a team of Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) consultants. We work closely with clients to understand their needs and formulate appropriate solutions. We collaborate with our 300+ salespeople to choose the right products and solutions for our clients.

What is the primary issue your clients need to solve?

They need an efficient way to vet their customers and third parties and ensure these individuals and businesses have no connection to money laundering or terrorist financing. Meeting that objective is part of their FCC obligations under BSA/AML requirements, and the USA PATRIOT Act. It’s also smart business to protect their organization from fraud and reputational damage.

How did you get involved in financial crime compliance?

Earlier in my career, I worked at a large regional bank as a small business underwriter. I found some anomalies in a portfolio and escalated them to senior leadership in 2000. Not long after that, 9/11 occurred.

That event prompted management to focus on protecting the company brand. Remembering the work I had done as a small business underwriter, senior leadership at the bank asked me to develop a department that would ensure that all incoming clients had no connection to any entities that were funding terrorism, while complying with Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act. I created a department known as the Customer Identification Unit (CIU). The CIU had a team of 30 employees whose job it was to verify the identity of every individual and business customer. We were already committed to the process when the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in October of 2003 (which required banks to verify the identities of their customers)

How did you end up at LexisNexis Risk Solutions?

LexisNexis Risk Solutions provided the solutions to the CIU at my bank, which I had managed. I recognized the quality of their products and respected the people who I worked with there; I decided to join the company in 2005.

Here at LexisNexis Risk Solutions do you only work with banks?

For my team, banks and credit unions are our primary customers. We’re in virtually every bank and credit union throughout the U.S. We also spend a great deal of time with corporates such as casinos, logistics companies, and online retailers that want to verify the identity, and understand more about risk their vendors and customers pose.

How do clients utilize your FCC solutions?

It often depends on who we’re working with. The marketing people at a bank, for example, are focused on getting the maximum number of customers in the front door. The compliance people are concerned about who those customers are. Sometimes we see a clash between marketing and compliance with how our solutions are deployed.

What do you see in the future of FCC?

The future of FCC compliance will begin to embrace the digital identity and take a closer look at the digital footprint everyone has.

What is LexisNexis doing in regard to digital identity?

Through our acquisition of ThreatMetrix, we capture digital footprints and fuse this information with traditional physical data. We look at the user’s device, IP address, and email address, among other things. We’re able to apply factors from the digital realm to assist in verifying the overall risk of an identity.

What are your clients’ biggest concerns?

Our clients know they can’t keep adding compliance staff. Yet the volume of alerts, and transactions, continues to grow. At LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we show our clients there are more efficient ways to using our solutions, such as our Intelligent Match Decision Solution. By applying powerful analytics, Intelligent Match Decision Solution reduces false positives and manual reviews associated with Politically Exposed Persons matches, and adverse media screening. It’s efficient and scalable. Results like this help our clients reduce staffing levels while remaining compliant.

Why do you think clients come to LexisNexis Risk Solutions?

Four reasons come to mind:

  1. We’ve been doing this a long time. The breadth and depth of our solutions and experience is unmatched.
  2. We offer many solutions that go along with FCC such as fraud and identity management, business risk management, debt collection, and credit risk assessment. We create workflows that our clients use to identify risk throughout their onboarding and relationship management processes.
  3. We’re always improving and adding on to our solutions. For example, our recent release of LexisNexis® InstantID® now includes verification and risk assessment of email addresses.
  4. We build long-term relationships with our clients. We meet with them regularly to help them solve emerging problems and make refinements based on their needs.

How long do customers typically stay with LexisNexis Risk Solutions?

Many of our customers have been with us for 10, 20 or more years. Often our solutions continue to be used long after the people who contracted with us have moved on to other roles within their organization.

How has COVID-19 affected what you do?

Previously, I flew an average of 120 times a year, meeting with clients around the country. Now, because of COVID, my team and I are not traveling at all. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that level of travel. Like so many businesses, we’ve found we can be effective with Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings.

When you think about your work at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, what makes you most proud?

The underlying factor in what my team and I are doing with FCC is protecting our country. We’re on the front line, preventing terrorist financing. And this is something we don’t take that lightly. That’s a huge responsibility for our company. Our clients go to bed at night knowing that LexisNexis Risk Solutions is protecting their brand. We fully understand the gravity of that.

Be sure to check back for our next “Who We Are” profile featuring Daniel Wager, Vice Global Financial Crime Compliance. Daniel has had a very esteemed career fighting the money-laundering activities of notorious criminals such as Manuel Noriega and explains how there are no victimless financial crimes.