Regulatory Ramblings podcast

Insights on Financial Crime with Michael Heller

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Michael Heller, VP, Head of Financial Crime Proposition at Dow Jones Risk & Research

Based in Los Angeles and having been with Dow Jones for a decade, Michael Heller is currently responsible for corporate strategy and go-to-market, globally, for the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) business. He draws from a background as an entrepreneur, attorney, sales executive, and advisor to ensure clients building efficient compliance and risk management programs leverage the right data and technology.

Michael's career has been focused on bringing transparency to global business. After law school, he worked as a consultant with the Business Intelligence Group and later, the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Group at Goldman Sachs in New York. Admitted to practice law in California, he has also served as chief compliance officer and counsel at Abacus Wealth Partners in Los Angeles.

Financial institutions and multinationals rely on data and technology to prevent and detect financial crime. Recent geopolitical developments have made it even more critical for those participating in the globalised economy to embrace innovation for managing downside risks related to money-laundering, corruption, and sanctions evasion. Navigating the risk landscape in APAC, for example, presents formidable challenges as organisations must be well-prepared to address myriad regulatory requirements in jurisdictions with vastly different levels of development and financial and legal sophistication.

Financial crime in the region also exhibits a high degree of complexity due to factors such as rapid economic growth, the embrace of digital payments and crypto to move stored value across borders, and diverse cultural and governmental approaches to corruption and AML.

It is in that spirit that Michael chats with Regulatory Ramblings host Ajay Shamdasani about the challenges of addressing money-laundering in Asia with an emphasis on the importance of adverse media screening to ensure FCC programs are keeping pace with regulatory expectations. 

They also discuss the potential positives and negatives of Artificial Intelligence for financial crime and third-party risk management. Michael stresses the ultimate aim of embracing new technology is to bring greater transparency to risk management workflows, enabling institutions and corporates alike to screen customers and third parties at speed and scale.

Indeed, as their discussion highlights, AI is poised to emerge as a game changing solution for compliance professionals; from reducing false matches to identifying patterns that could indicate suspicious activity. They also talk about noteworthy trends Michael has observed across the region concerning the development of disruptive technologies and the associated risks they pose.

He also shares his views on the efficacy of initiatives by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to encourage and support the local financial sector’s adoption of AML and CFT RegTech, of which natural language processing for news monitoring is a key part (Linked at: ).

The conversation ends with Michael providing tangible examples of how such capabilities can be effectively utilised to fill gaps in the current regulatory compliance landscape. He concludes with his predictions of the most pressing financial crime and technology-related challenges that institutions are likely to face in the next 12 months.

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