In our latest Members Spotlight, we chatted with Oli Mott, Head of Financial Crime & MLRO at The Nottingham Building Societywho has been a member of The Institute for the past seven years. Oli shared his journey as a financial crime prevention professional, his experience with The Institute, his future career aspirations, and his insights on emerging trends and issues in the financial services industry.

The Institute: How did you begin your journey in financial crime prevention?

Oli: I started my career in the Police as a Crime Scene Investigator. I enjoyed my role, but because of budget cutting, the opportunities weren’t there for me to progress far beyond my role, and so I decided to look elsewhere. I had no experience of Financial Crime, but saw a role at Coventry Building Society which interested me. It was a very different subject to CSI, but there were some similarities in how the teams operated, and so went for it! I managed the AML team at Coventry as well as being DMLRO there for just over 3 years, but moved to Nottingham. The role had exciting opportunities to develop, expanded my coverage to all of Financial Crime, and had the added bonus that it was a lot closer to home (I’ve lived just outside Nottingham for 20+ years).

The Institute: How has being a member of the Institute impacted your professional growth?

Oli: The Institute offered me in role, relevant development though the quarterly meetings and conferences, gave me access to a wide range of information that I could draw upon in my role, but also gave me access to those performing similar roles in often very different spaces. This gave me chances to gain insight and shape our approach at Nottingham.

The Institute: Can you share a memorable experience or accomplishment in your career that you're particularly proud of?

Oli: I was interviewed by the FCA 6 weeks after joining Cov (and survived). It took a crash course in AML and Financial Crime, but I was proud that I was able to adapt that quickly. At Nottingham we have also released an app (Beehive Money) which I was central in developing. It was a massive step forward for the building society as it challenged every concept we had about offering online savings, and sought to do things differently, something I really enjoy doing. 

The Institute: What's one challenge you've encountered in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Oli: I really love being set challenges around customer journeys and experience. How can we onboard someone quickly but safely? How can we apply a risk-based approach to screening and due diligence? I like looking at problems in a completely different way, and challenging the concept of ‘because we have always done it that way…’

The Institute: In your opinion, what are the emerging trends or challenges in financial crime prevention that professionals should be aware of?

Oli: The biggest challenge is we are constantly playing catch up to the criminals because they are accessing AI and machine learning without the regulations we have in place! They can adapt and change so quickly, there is a constant need to do the same just to get back on track. I think AI and the use of deep-fake technology poses a massive risk to our customers (and therefore us). Customers could fall victim to a fraud, when the caller looks and sounds like a relative, the days of badly spelt emails from Royalty from other countries are sadly behind us.

The Institute: What piece of advice would you offer to someone just starting in this sector or looking to transition into it?

Oli: Take the time to understand the concept of a risk-based approach, and what it means to accept or manage a risk. I have seen people accepting risks without fully understanding what it means to be accepting that risk. I’ve also seen people reject new ways of working because they don’t understand it, so instead of managing a risk, they reject it, and don’t make progress. Understanding risk also means you don’t always have to invest thousands in the latest technology, what is the risk you actually face, and what controls are needed to manage it?

The Institute: Are there any resources, courses, or books you would recommend for those keen to deepen their knowledge in financial crime prevention?

Oli: Other than the Institute? I value courses at the ICA quite highly, they always seem to have good coverage and often decent value. I also try to attend at least 2-3 conferences a year, though I am careful to understand what the content is before I go. As I started out I relied quite heavily on the Money Laundering Officers Practical Handbook – from Money Laundering Resource. It breaks down requirements to MLROs, and puts them in plain English.

The Institute: Can you share an instance where networking or collaborating with institute members led to a successful outcome or fresh insights?

Oli: Just about every conference or meeting I’ve gone to! I tend to always keep a little notebook with me when I am there. On one page I take notes from the speakers, on the other I keep a ‘to-do’ list of things to do. Often they have nothing directly to do with the topic, but it is related to something someone has said, or as part of a conversation in a meal break.

The Institute: To help us know you a bit more personally, what are some hobbies or passions you pursue outside of your professional life?

Oli: I love sport and keeping active. I have been a rugby player most of my life, but with age catching up on me, I have resorted instead to playing 5 a side football – much easier on the body! I also have two boys and coach both their football teams too.

The Institute: What are your professional goals for the next 5 years? How do you see the association playing a role in achieving them? 

Oli: The next step up for me will be into roles with a coverage larger than Financial Crime, and I am currently completing an MSc to develop my overall business knowledge. I am planning on utilising the wide range of Institute members to help me in that development as there are many different roles represented.

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