As part of our ongoing series on our heroes of financial crime compliance, we meet Leslie Bailey, Vice President of Financial Crime Compliance strategy. Leslie, a self-proclaimed eternal optimist, embraces her position as a member of the LexisNexis Risk Solutions team and undoubtedly believes that their concerted efforts serve the world at large by deterring financial crime every day.
What first attracted you to financial crime compliance (FCC)?
I began looking into financial crime around the end of 2001 after the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law. At the time, I was working as a compliance analyst for a life insurance company and I off-handedly mentioned what I would do to launder money using life insurance. Aside from the strange looks I received from my colleagues around the table, it opened an opportunity for me to actively participate in the early stages of a customer identification program for the company.
At about the same time, I started doing training for employees on the USA PATRIOT Act. I became more involved in fraud investigations related to terrorism financing, confidence crimes and life insurance death benefits used to advance money laundering.
How long have you been with LexisNexis Risk Solutions?
I joined the company in 2018, and in the past year have taken on more responsibilities related to FCC. I look for ways to help businesses identify risks and deter financial crime while driving efficiencies.
I am focused on the questions, “How do we partner our products with innovations that create meaningful solutions and help our customers combat money laundering and corruption? And how do we help them to anticipate and prepare for what is yet to come?”
How has the pandemic affected your work?
It changed the landscape, greatly accelerating the shift towards digital-first interactions. Money laundering and criminal behavior is like water. It flows through the path of least resistance, so it goes to an unregulated space like the digital world, where transactions move quickly and anonymously. The future is now in terms of fraud, so how do we anticipate what is next?
Is LexisNexis Risk Solutions ready for challenges like the shift toward all digital?
We have the ability to bring together physical and digital identity to combat financial crimes in a more powerful way. As people go all digital, it becomes harder to track their physical footprint. Nevertheless, we are able to combine their physical and digital footprint to get a truer view of risk. If you want to succeed in prevention, that is the direction to go.
Fortunately, our leadership at LexisNexis Risk Solutions has fully embraced the evolution of the world we live in. Our most recent acquisitions of data consortium combined with progressive technology solutions strengthen our already robust assets. Our acquisitions of ThreatMetrix, Emailage and ID Analytics provide additional assets that offer compelling use cases for the compliance industry.
We have the ability to shape the future of financial crime compliance by helping organizations find connections between businesses and individuals, and proactively identify internal vulnerabilities.
Do you think we’ll ever be able to stop all financial crimes?
I am an eternal optimist. I think we create tools that can minimize bad things like money laundering. However, the human mind is incredibly creative, so stopping financial crime is like plugging a dam. Fill one hole and another opens. The goal with financial crime is to stay one-step ahead and minimize the impact. You cannot control someone else’s activity, but you can anticipate the behavior and prevent them from carrying it out through your organization.
What is important for clients to know about FCC?
Historically, compliance departments have been considered a source of friction and a drain on resources. People ask, “What benefit do they contribute to an organization?” When leveraged appropriately, FCC can be a source for strategic risk management across the enterprise.
Organizations should be asking questions such as: “How do we redeploy our cost of compliance to other areas of the organization? Can FCC help us to become more efficient? Can it provide us with a better view of true risk within the company? Will it give us greater insight to a customer relationship?”
It is a strategic play to have a better view of customers early on because undoing a bad relationship is difficult and risky. Being able to identify potential issues on the front end is reputational protection. In this way, our FCC tools, technology and solutions can help organizations with their long-term strategies.
Do you feel like you are making a positive difference in the world?
At LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we have a strong sense of purpose around financial inclusion and driving the global economy. This starts with preventing financial crime. There is value in the products and services we provide that relate to a larger purpose.
We feel we are making a difference. It is about contributing to something bigger than ourselves. Everyone here wants to do good for society. We want to contribute to economic stability and prevent social issues like human trafficking and labor trafficking — which are often tied to money laundering. That may not be the sexy thing to sell to a financial institution, but certainly helping them recognize that illicit money coming through their organization, or paying someone unknowingly who’s involved in corruption, exposes the institution from a reputational perspective.
Financial crime has a negative socio-impact on the economy. It takes away from the local community. It minimizes employment opportunities. It does not allow the financial system to function as it should. It is connected to crimes in which lives can be lost. When you have money laundering and corruption in government, legitimate local businesses are undercut and cannot compete; they go out of business. There is a huge ripple effect. Entire economies can crumble when financial crime is rampant. LexisNexis Risk Solutions has proven solutions to protect and guard from that malfeasance.
Read Leslie’s blog posts:
What’s Driving Your Compliance Costs?
Labor Costs Play a Critical Role in Financial Crime Compliance Strategies
Achieving a Proactive and Cost-Effective OFAC Sanctions Compliance Strategy
Recognizing and Combatting the True Cost of Financial Crime Compliance