The 5-Step Guide to Passing CAMS
I am an AML-Compliance Officer and I really like my job. I am also a mother of 2 relatively small children (2 and 6) and I really love this role.
So, it is pretty much like having 2 full-time jobs that leaves me with a minimum portion of free time.
CAMS in these conditions was a seemingly impossible dream.
And yet… :).
Below you will find my successful solution.
Step 1 – Get rid of the time pressure
I started learning for the CAMS exam before I even registered for it.
I registered on their website and received the CAMS Candidate Handbook which contains a very extensive “CAMS Examination Content Outline”.
Section II (Compliance Standards for AML and CFT) contains several international documents that you must absolutely read if you want to pass CAMS (FATF 40 Recommendations and the Interpretative Notes, Basel’s CDD and Sound Risk Management, Wolfsberg AML Principles, the 4th EU Directive, USA Patriot Act).
So I started reading those documents first and it took me quite some time. Precious time saved for the moment I actually registered for the CAMS.
Step 2 – Visualize what you are leaning
It is not just reading the bibliography.
Yes, if you want to pass CAMS, reading the bibliography and the studies mentioned in the manual is a 90% “must”. I had several questions during my examination that were surely not from the book but from a Wolfsberg Publication, the Basel Sound Risk Management, the FATF study on ML in securities, etc.
CAMS is a wonderful source of information, but also of information sources. Use the information sources provided. It will help you grow as a professionist, as well as remember the information more easily – wander through the FATF website, register for the Europol newsletter, read the US International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, read about the FSRBs and see their websites, look on some FATF mutual evaluation reports on member countries to understand the methodology used, read the FATF publications “Public Statement” and “Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance”, look for the last evaluation report made for your country by FATF or by a FSRB and read it (in my case it was made by Moneval), visit www.imolin.org, www.egmontgroup.org, read the “100 sanitised cases of Egmont Group”, etc.
Step 3 – Start applying what you are learning
Don’t see CAMS as just an exam. Start applying what you are learning before you even pass the exam.
The CAMS manual and the related bibliography contains so much information that it will inevitably make you grow as a professionist and help you see and understand processes, typologies and your own capacities differently, more clearly.
Start applying what you are learning:
- Undertake more difficult tasks at work – the more difficult a project is and nobody wants it, go get it. This way, for sure, at the end you will know how to do it. Trust yourself! If you can learn for the CAMS than you can do pretty much anything in the AML- Compliance field :).
- Use the information sources and the received knowledge in your daily work – make reference to international standards or publications in your written opinions, reports, materials – it is the perfect way to sustain your points and also refresh the examination material;
- Do things you didn’t think you could do before – I started making e-learning trainings for the front-office and other departments’ personnel (short, specific and targeted) which my supervisor liked and so I ended up making such trainings on an almost monthly basis and even delivered my first face-to-face training which was a success (especially because I also presented them some ML typologies from other industries like casinos, real-estate and insurance, typologies that I learned about during my studying process). I also started feeling confident enough to start writing articles in which I expressed my own personal views and conclusions in the AML-Compliance area and which received a very good feedback from peers around the globe. And thus, this website was created.
Step 4 – Maintain a constant learning pace
Once you’ve decided you want to pass CAMS, set your objective straight and stick to a constant learning schedule. There is an incredible amount of information and if you linger too much and have learning gaps, by the time you arrive to the last chapter you will have forgotten many details from the first one.
Step 5 – Sleep is a luxury left for retirement
Between my two “full-time jobs”, the only period I had for learning was when the children were sleeping – noon sleep, night sleep, morning sleep J. Coffee is a good ally and it is incredible how much you can learn from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. before waking the children up and preparing them for school / kindergarden and yourself for work. :):):)
I wanted to present to you a different approach to passing CAMS, besides the usual “read the manual at least twice, the questions are worded in a catchy manner, mark the ones you’re not sure about for review during the examination”, etc.
It worked for me because, on the 28th of March 2018, after many months of hard work …. I PASSED MY CAMS. Hurraaayyyyyy!!!!!
CAMS changed me before I even passed it and I think that you should see it as more than just an exam. Besides all the knowledge and confidence that I have gained during the entire learning process, I have also developed a learning pattern. I like to keep myself informed, to read constantly in my domain, to want to know.
All the luck in the world for all of you studying for the CAMS!
You can do it!
Update: Practice questions can be found at this ACAMS link.
Update 2: At this link you will find a website with free information from the CAMS Study guide which I found while trying to answer to the many people that wrote to me. These are for the people that want to start studying before they actually register for the exam. Those that already registered and received the book, have all the necessary information in the book and in the international studies mentioned in the book.
By Andreea Tampu, CAMS