Risk in focus: Muhammad Shafi

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) speaks to Muhammad Shafi, Compliance Specialist, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank on what working in risk is really like and what advice they would share with people looking to start a career in the industry.

How did you get your job?  

I started my career in a customer facing service function where I have discovered potential opportunities in Financial Crime Compliance risk areas. I had initially completed a certification in Anti Money Laundering (AML) in 2013 which paved the way a for a rewarding career in compliance. Currently I work for a regional Middle Eastern Bank in the AML compliance function. AML compliance has truly evolved in the past decade thanks to the sophisticated methods money launderers are adopting to commit crime and ever increasing regulatory expectations. Regulatory fines on major banks across the globe made headlines and Bank’s investments in the compliance risk management areas have dramatically increased over time. This created need for specialist resources in this area.

What’s a typical day like as a Compliance Specialist?

My work involves around understanding and mitigating compliance risks faced by my organisation from money launderers and sanction evaders. I review high risk business relationships and advise business on a day-to-day basis. This involves conducting enhanced due diligence to proactively manage risks. In addition, I provide advisory on various initiatives taken by the bank especially on the system enhancements and digital transformation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The job is so dynamic that every day you get new challenges and new learning opportunities. Besides the evolving external risk factors makes the job even more challenging and rewarding. Being part of an anti-crime function means you contribute to the community to make it a better place to live.

What are the challenges?

Due to the evolving nature of the job, I need to stay updated and current with trends and typologies, regulations and their expectations. More recently, the advancement in technologies in Compliance risk areas and the pace at which the adoption takes place is amazing and challenge is to keep up to date with technologies and their disruption capabilities.

What made you decide to study the International Certificate in ERM?

A risk based approach is the key buzzword currently, especially in compliance risk areas and regulators and industry standard-setters have been increasingly focusing on a holistic approach to compliance risk management. Enterprise-wide AML risk assessment and management is a regulatory requirement in most jurisdictions due to the influence of international standard setters such as FATF. IRM Certification in ERM is truly beneficial to understand the risk management function in great detail and to apply in practical scenarios.

What has it taught you that you can immediately put into practice? 

Studying the International Certificate has helped me to understand risk assessment in great detail and best practices around it which, I believe, will benefit anyone in practising risk functions. It provides a detailed understanding of best adopted standards and their comparisons and in general it paves way for a well-structured understanding of risk management.

What would you say to other people considering studying the qualification?

I truly recommend the certificate to anyone who wishes to pursue a career risk management or who is already in risk to fine tune their skills and enhance their career.

Top tips:

> Keep up-to-date with trends in any areas of work especially technology that impacts your work

> Be pragmatic and practical to solve problems

> Keep it simple and think outside of the box