Training and education of staff
Comments and recommendations by the NBB
The effectiveness of the AML/CFTP policy of financial institutions depends largely on the ability of their staff and representatives to contribute to its implementation. This ability depends on their technical knowledge and their awareness of the critical need to prevent ML/FT transactions, both of which are the responsibility of the AMLCO (see “Governance” page).
The AMLCO should educate the staff of his financial institution about the ML/FT risks to which it is exposed, taking into account the broader national and international environment in which it operates, and about the reasons why it is necessary to reduce these ML/FT risks. The education thus consists in disseminating general AML/CFTP information to all staff members. This information can take various forms: company letters, intranet, meetings, etc. Through this process, staff are and remain informed of the risks, including ML/FT methods, trends and typologies, as well as of the risk-based approach implemented by the financial institution to reduce and manage these risks.
In addition to the general education, the AMLCO should ensure that a (theoretical and practical) AML/CFTP training is provided to guarantee that the persons concerned by the AML/CFTP risks are effectively able to implement the AML/CFTP measures in effect in the financial institution. The NBB recommends that, as far as possible, this training be provided by the AMLCO or members of its team, where appropriate, in association with the department in charge of staff training. Nevertheless, if this task is outsourced to a third party, the AMLCO should ensure (i) that the subcontractor has the required AML/CFTP knowledge to guarantee the quality of the training to be provided, (ii) that the management conditions of the outsourcing are set and respected, and (iii) that the content of this training is adapted to the specific features of the financial institution concerned and that the field experience of the institution’s AMLCO is properly reflected in the training (see below).
As regards the ratione personae scope, the training should cover all staff (irrespective of their status) of the financial institution who are concerned by the ML/FT risks, as well as its independent agents (not brokers) and, if the financial institution is an electronic money institution, its distributors.
The training procedures must be adapted to the financial institution's organisation and take account of its nature and size, as well as of its ML/FT risk profile.
The subject of the training to be provided must be proportionate to the ML/FT risks to which the persons to whom it is provided, may be exposed. A distinction can be made in this respect between:
- persons working in the compliance function under the responsibility of the AMLCO: training should be thorough and cover all AML/CFTP aspects, thus enabling the financial institution to comply with all its AML/CFTP obligations;
- persons in contact with customers or instructed with carrying out their transactions (employees, agents and distributors): training should enable them to detect atypical transactions effectively and to alert the AMLCO as soon as possible in accordance with internal procedures;
- persons responsible for developing procedures or software or other tools applicable to activities that are sensitive to ML/FT risk: this training must enable them to adequately integrate the AML/CFTP issue.
The training program may include several sessions which, in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Law, are defined taking into account the tasks performed by the persons concerned and their exposure to ML/FT risks. In general however, the NBB recommends that all training sessions cover the following aspects:
all Belgian legal and regulatory AML/CFTP obligations applicable to financial institutions (overall risk assessment and risk classification, individual risk assessment, due diligence requirements, detection and analysis of atypical transactions, reporting of suspicions, embargoes, freezing of assets, electronic transfers of funds, etc);
the internal organisation, i.e. the risk-based approach and the policies, procedures, implementation processes of the institution and the existence of an internal reporting procedure ("internal whistleblowing");
the experience acquired within the institution and, in particular the cases of atypical transactions identified previously;
recent developments with regard to the ML/FT phenomenon in practice (typologies, risk factors, etc.);
the existence within the NBB of a reporting procedure ("external whistleblowing": see Article 11, § 1, paragraph 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law).
The NBB also reminds financial institutions that training should be updated in the light of any changes in legislative and regulatory provisions and, more generally, of any changes affecting the AML/CFTP organisation.
As regards the frequency of training, it should be provided both when new staff are recruited (short-term training after entry into service), and on an ongoing basis whenever updating is necessary, in particular as a result of changes in the identified risks or in the organisation of the financial institution.
The NBB also recommends setting up a system for monitoring training and verifying the good understanding of the substance by the staff concerned. To this end, the staff concerned can be asked to take a test after the training. The financial institution should also be able to demonstrate to the NBB the trainings taken by the staff involved in the ML/FT risks, as well as by the agents and the distributors.