23 October 2023

Outcomes of Joint Study by ITMCFM and NAFI Research Center: Qualities of Financial Intelligence Officers

The International Training and Methodology Centre for Financial Monitoring (ITMCFM) and the NAFI Research Center conducted an opinion poll to assess the professional skills and personal qualities of financial intelligence officers. Over 15,000 students, teachers, and practitioners participated in the study. The findings clearly illustrate the abilities that future experts prioritize, as well as how the perception of crucial attributes varies across students pursuing relevant degrees, academic staff, and employers.

The poll encompassed six CIS countries: the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The research included three groups of participants:

  • Students from member universities of the International Network AML/CFT Institute (INI);
  • University faculty members who provide financial security education;
  • Representatives of employers in national anti-money laundering systems.

The total number of respondents exceeded 15,000 people.

Hard Skills: Different Views

More than half of students (54 %) believe that the fundamental purpose of education is to acquire professional competences, known as hard skills. The share is even higher among those receiving higher education in Russia (58 %) and Belarus (56 %).

According to students, the top five competencies they can use in their future professions in their degree field are as follows:

  • Analysis of financial transactions, financial investigation records, and criminal proceeds laundering schemes (46 %);
  • Application of current financial technology tools (33 %);
  • Information generation and database use (32 %);
  • Preparation of expert opinions (30 %);
  • Analysis of legislation in force and its modifications (29 %);

Teachers also rank financial transaction analysis first. Moreover, the proportion of those who rate it as very essential is substantially greater (66 % of teachers versus 46 % of students). Besides, the teaching staff places a higher emphasis on the need of mastering hard skills, as similar disparities between students’ and teachers’ responses are evident in other competencies as well.

Both groups agree on the need of using contemporary technologies and analytical skills (45 % of teachers and 36 % of students). The difference lies in the academic staff’s emphasis on crime prevention abilities, namely the capacity to spot and classify signs of suspicious financial activity (37 %; third on the list of crucial hard skills according to teachers).

Employers favor the ability to analyze legislation (49 %) over the ability to examine specific transactions (which is the choice of students and teachers). The analysis of suspicious transactions comes in second (46 %). Employers consider the use of modern financial technologies (43 %), statistical skills, and the ability to spot signs of suspicious transactions (33 % each) to be among the top five most important competencies.

Soft Skills: Different Views

Over a third of students in CIS countries believe it is critical to develop soft skills (common skills applicable to any profession) as part of their education. Students in Belarus place a high importance on such skills (64 %), while young people in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan esteem them substantially less (10 % and 12 %, respectively).

According to students, the following are the most essential soft skills that may be valuable in their career:

  • Personal development and knowledge management (51 %);
  • Communication (49 %);
  • Information skills: data analysis and solution development (49 %);
  • Stress resistance (49 %);
  • Critical thinking (48 %).

Teachers and employers value financial security specialists’ self-development and knowledge management abilities, as well as their communication and data analysis skills. However, neither places a high demand on stress resistance or critical thinking.

Self-organization and planning, as well as result-oriented performance, are among the top five soft skills cited by teachers and employers. They expect that their specialists will be able to manage their objectives, address any developing challenges, and select the most effective methods to reach their strategic goal.

Oleg Ivanov, First Deputy Director General, ITMCFM:

“One of the key goals in bolstering the operations of national AML/CFT systems is to elevate the level of professional training. When the expectations of future employers align with students’ deliberate selection of competencies and skills, it fosters the seamless integration of specialists into the current system.

The survey results reveal a general consensus among young individuals, academic faculty, and financial security experts regarding the essential set of soft skills. However, prospective employers accord precedence to expertise in law and the ability to analyze financial transactions and criminal proceeds laundering schemes in the realm of hard skills. Students, while underscoring the significance of analytical competencies, give precedence to proficiency in managing fintech technologies and statistical data.

The training programs offered at member universities of the International Network AML/CFT Institute hold a significant advantage: they facilitate participation in professional training for potential employers who are integral members of national anti-money laundering systems. This strategic approach enables aspiring specialists to dedicate more time to practical industry experience and acquire skills that are in high demand within the financial security labor market.”

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