Online Master’s in Financial Crime
If you’re searching for a career in finance, one area experiencing tremendous demand is compliance. In 2014, European and U.S. banks were charged almost $65 billion in fines and penalties for non-compliance with various regulations, according to the Wall Street Journal.1
Maybe more alarming is the growth rate in these fines. 2014’s total was a hefty 40% jump from 2013, according to the Boston Consulting Group.2 Some view these as punitive but with negative public sentiment towards financial institutions and thin government budgets, profitable financial firms become targets. The trend towards fines and regulation is clearly on the rise with no signs of slowing.
Compliance is necessary to prevent financial crimes, which include doing business with non-sanctioned countries and helping individuals evade taxes. Banks have also been fined for collusion and manipulation of interest rates.
BNP Paribas felt the backlash of regulatory non-compliance of sanctions with Iran and has paid roughly $9 billion in fines and penalties.3
Sometimes, the restricted activities aren’t against entire countries but certain industries. This is the case for Russia. In response to the events in Crimea, Western nations have levied coordinated sanctions aimed at hindering Russia’s state-owned oil companies and their finance arms. 4
Credit Suisse and UBS have been fined for assisting Americans skirt U.S. taxes using Swiss bank accounts.5 Also, Barclays has been fined over $2 billion for helping rig foreign exchange rates and the London Interbank Offering Rate, LIBOR.6
What is an Online Masters in Financial Crime degree?
The online Master’s in Financial Crime and Compliance Management degree is a highly concentrated graduate program designed to teach students how to detect and deter financial crime for organizations. It also studies policies and procedures responsible for creating compliant risk management policies, a necessity in today’s business climate.
But preventing financial crimes must be approached in a legal and ethical manner and privacy issues are studied and critiqued. There have been recent cases where investigations have led the investigators themselves being sued.
Utica College offers an online Master’s in Financial Crime and Compliance Management that can be completed in two years on a part-time basis.7 The courses teach students methods of financial crime prevention, and they have been teaching about financial crime since 1999, well before many similar programs appeared.8
The curriculum includes investigation techniques, legal implications of financial crimes and advanced fraud analysis. Further course work includes risk and compliance issues of fraud management. The program ends with a capstone project utilizing the entire body of knowledge from the course, allowing students to explore practical applications of financial crime prevention and their related compliance issues.
What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with an online Master’s in Financial Crime and Compliance Management?
Typical public sector employers for graduates of online Master’s in Financial Crimes are government agencies, law enforcement and various regulatory bodies. These include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, IRS. Jobs in financial crime prevention in the public sector include special agents, investigators, forensic accountants and tax examiners.
There is also strong demand from private sector industries including finance, retail and gaming. Financial services and retail industries are the most at risk for financial crime, while hospitality and leisure (gaming) is tied for third. The financial services and banking industry report the highest level of economic crime.
Also, money laundering is almost 5 times more likely to occur in financial services than any other industry.9 Just as in accounting where CPAs must be on audit committees, there are proposed new regulations in New York requiring banks to have Anti-Money Laundering (AML) professionals on staff.10
The retail sector is also plagued with fraud and corruption, often stemming not from the parent company, but in the supply chain. Vetting suppliers is critically important since U.S. corporate production is increasingly outsourced to places like Asia and Africa. China has a reputation for serious accounting and control issues while Africa reports the highest level of economic crime at 50%.11
Proactive risk managers should establish ‘right to audit’ contracts when dealing with suppliers and vendors. Perhaps your company has undergone a vertical merger, seeking to secure essential resources from a key supplier. If your company is a parent to one of these subsidiaries, the parent may be liable for any illegal activities. The penalties also affect many stakeholders, including employees, shareholders and the community.
Jobs in the private sector include internal and external auditors, compliance professionals, and insurance claims adjusters. Internal auditors are an especially important position since 56% of fraud occurs internally.12
There is high demand for experienced compliance and risk management professionals and many employers are willing to pay up for these crime fighters. In the U.S., jobs in financial crime prevention enjoy median total compensation of $85,500, according to the Association for Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS).13
Not surprisingly, this field is becoming competitive so an advanced degree or designation, such as a Master’s in Financial Crime, could put you at a competitive advantage with potential employers.
How do I Choose the Right Online Master in Financial Crime program?
Make sure your school has the proper accreditations and experienced faculty. Research how long the schools have been in existence and how long they have been teaching the program you’re interested in. Schools should have a long-track record of success but also the ability to deliver programs that match current demand in the workplace.
Since financial and economic crimes are always evolving, make sure the program you enter maintains affiliation with those on the front line of these activities, including law enforcement agencies, governmental regulatory bodies and the private sector. This ensures students are focused on the latest techniques in fraud prevention including cybercrime.
Since many threats come from overseas, these affiliations help students gain practical experience utilizing the latest technologies to track international criminals including link analysis and social media tactics.
The maturity and perspective gained from a financial crime prevention master’s degree could help you attain management status, increase job security and make you a more valuable asset to your employer. If you’re looking for an exciting and rewarding career in finance, consider an online Masters in Financial Crimes and Compliance Management.