Case in Point

Better together

Sometimes departments within organizations can have tunnel vision, which can be fatal for fraud investigations. Here the author looks at how a money-laundering probe at one financial institution revealed the flaws in its siloed approach and how working together makes all the difference.

When sailing, mariners must always know the wind’s direction and mind their points of sail — a boat’s course relative to the wind. Sails can’t catch the wind in what is known as the no-go zone, approximately 45 degrees on either side of the wind’s direction. But sailing close-hauled, or as close to the wind as possible, mobilizes sails. (See “What is Sailing Close to the Wind?” Life of Sailing.) Indeed, sailing requires working with the wind to move ahead. Managing fraud risk and investigations is a similar process: Just as the mariner works with the wind, collaboration among teams of experts is the best way to propel forward. When people come together and share their expertise, they can truly succeed.

My team and I learned the importance of collaboration when we worked on a money-laundering probe at my former employer, a financial institution. The investigation revealed gaps in my organization’s processes and controls, but perhaps more important, it redefined how we operated and managed cases. Ultimately, we were able to do right by our customers, shareholders, peer banks and regulators because we decided to work together. We also strengthened our organization’s fraud-fighting efforts after breaking down the siloes we worked in. Here’s what happened.

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