Marketing Your Compliance Department

As a proud owner of a Master’s Degree in Marketing, married to a Marketing Manager, I think I am intrinsically corrupted into seeing the need of marketing in almost everything we do.

The AML-Compliance Department is mandatory by law in banks and in many other organizations.

So why should the Compliance Department be marketed?

The devil’s advocate would simply state that as long as the law imposes our existence in an organization, then the management doesn’t have any choice but to bear us. The same applies for our colleagues from the front-office or other departments. Or, in a more arrogant tone, they just don’t realize how lucky they are that we exist to protect them. Ha!

But is this the right approach?

Let’s now hear it from the marketing’s advocate.

Yes, the AML-Compliance Department is mandatory by law. And yes, our job is very important in protecting our organization and our colleagues from receiving fines and other sanctions. And yes, we are very important to the whole financial system by identifying, reporting and preventing suspicious transactions from happening. And yes, they are lucky to have us … just as lucky we are to have them.

We are just like the tooth-paste. Very important, essential even. But, like all toothpastes, there are some that you really trust and want to have, and other that, if you must, you … tolerate.

I am the marketing’s advocate. I believe and promote the need to market you Compliance Department and to market yourself as specialists.


In order to have a good AML-Compliance Marketing program, you must answer the following questions:


Why? Who? What? How? When?




Because the AML-Compliance Specialists are advisors. And, in order to be heard, believed and followed, they need to be trusted. They need to be visible. Marketing builds visibility and good visibility builds trust.





Your marketing strategy must work both ways – upwards to the management and sideways, to your colleagues from all the departments of your organization.

Basically it must work towards all the people you work with or, in marketing terms, towards all your “target customers”.



What do we want to promote? What is our product?

Our knowledge, the fact that we are specialists, that we really know what we are talking about, that we are pro-active and want to find solutions. That we want to find ways to say “yes” instead of “no”. That we are a trusted ally. And that under our guard they are safe…r, so this is why, sometimes we simply must say “no”.



What marketing tools can we use?


1. Have a Good Product to Sell

A marketing strategy cannot do wonders if the product is not good itself.

So, have a good Compliance Department, with people that know what they are talking about.

If you are the Compliance Manager, allocate time and resources to the training of your staff. This can mean external trainings, courses, seminars and webinars, but also internal efforts. Establish periodical sessions of internal workshops with your colleagues on different issues and stick to them (weekly or twice/month). Make your staff read in order to be informed and updated. Start with FATF, Basel and Wolfsberg and continue with AML news. Share information and make them share back. Create a team of experts and specialists that you can trust. And the others will trust them also.

If you are an AML-Compliance Specialist, invest in yourself as a specialist. Look for relevant external trainings and make efforts to attend them. But most importantly train yourself. Read, read, read and network. Exchange experiences and expertise. Know what you are talking about. Be prepared – in general and for every opinion you give or meeting that you attend. Don’t go there just to fill a chair. Be the person that the others look at in order to find advice, be prepared when you open the mouth to say something. Know the applicable law. For example, I prefer to state the articles of the law that apply whenever I sustain sensitive opinions.


2. Advertising

No billboards for you, darling.

It doesn’t matter how much you know, if the others don’t know that you know it.

Of course, your entire activity, all your opinions and all the meetings that you attend are an image of you, as an AML-Compliance Specialist, and of your department.

But let’s go a little further.

Advertise your department in a marketing way, be visible.

  • Periodical trainings to your colleagues – don’t stick to the annual, mandatory KYC-AML-CFT training. Provide periodical, smaller and easy to digest trainings. This fulfills a double role – it will train your colleagues and raise their awareness in the area of KYC-AML-CFT, but it will also keep you visible. Plus, only specialists can teach, right? It doesn’t have to be only face-to-face, which is difficult to organize and more expensive. Use the tools you have available –  e-learning platforms and even e-mails with information or with power point presentations.
  • Periodical information to the management – as in the case above, don’t stick to the annual, mandatory KYC-AML-CFT training. However, in this case, the approach is different. For example you can send them periodical information with relevant KYC-AML-CFT news (national and international). Don’t just send them the link, don’t send them more emails in one day and don’t suffocate them. Once a week or twice/month send them a short email with the conclusions of the most important news and the links where they can find more information. Remember, use as little words as you can – be the essence, like a good perfume.
  • An internal AML-Compliance Newsletter – my dream. If you have the time to do it and stick to it, it would be of great help. It can contain news, changes in your procedures, changes in the legislation, “sanitized” cases from your own organization, reminders on different issues from your procedures that you feel are being forgotten/misunderstood, etc.



To keep your product competitive (meaning to have a good AML-Compliance Department) – all the time.

For advertising – periodically and continuously. Establish a frequency for your communication tools and stick to it. Do not over or under do it.


In the end, how do you market your Compliance Department? How do you market yourself?


By Andreea Tampu, ACAMS

1 Comment
  1. Very true! We should be marketing our work, our colleagues, our department. Many times we are seen as the “bad guys”.

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