Chair, Money Laundering Task Force, Law Society; director, Amy Bell Compliance
At an A-level law taster session I guessed the nearest right answer when asked what penalty a judge had applied in a case. I guessed what I thought was fair and realised a career pursuing what is fair was what I wanted to do.
Dealing with constant change is the biggest challenge, such as changing the way I worked as a personal injury lawyer when fixed costs came in, adapting to technological innovation and case management, or adapting through a recession. Having learnt to embrace change, I look to constantly improve and push myself outside my comfort zone.
Becoming chair of the Law Society’s Money Laundering Task Force has been a highlight. This is different to anything I encountered as a solicitor. I have to understand the impact of politics on law-making and hone my negotiation and advocacy skills. Having the opportunity to represent the profession is a privilege.
I left a fee-earning role in 2005 and have spent the last 12 years advising lawyers about compliance. I help firms navigate the compliance requirements and use them to develop their businesses to produce high-quality services for clients with minimal risk and maximum efficiency.
Every firm I have helped with AML has two things in common. The first is awareness of how they might be targeted; the second is carrying out due diligence in a time- and cost-effective way.
Getting out the message as to how firms might be targeted by criminals is one of my favourite things to do. It is upsetting that people working hard to serve their communities can be targeted by criminals. I am committed to raising awareness about the tactics criminals employ so we can protect firms from unwittingly becoming involved in money laundering.
A big part of that is effective due diligence. As we have seen with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, obligations are becoming more onerous. More information needs to be gathered and digested, all in a market still recovering from recession and where resources are limited. I help firms look for solutions, particularly technology. The emergence of ‘RegtTech’ companies (such as Encompass Corporation with its Verify service) are now providing technology solutions for activities which, 10 years ago, would have taken a person an hour but can now be done with one mouse click and a couple of minutes search time.
I would like to encourage more use of the reliance provisions by removing civil liability for the people who are relied upon. Provisions already exist to rely on another’s due diligence but people are reluctant to use them. By introducing provisions which remove civil liability I can see a situation where a client undergoes CDD with one person and that CDD can be used by others, say in conveyancing transactions. That would save time for the solicitors, IFAs and banks involved, and most importantly the client, who must be mystified about why they have to keep producing their passport and utility bill to every person they come into contact with.