How to Become a Financial Crime Analyst

5 min

In the UK alone, over £1.2 billion was stolen due to fraud in 2022, and ...

JCW Resourcing

By JCW Resourcing

In the UK alone, over £1.2 billion was stolen due to fraud in 2022, and 64% of businesses reported they had fallen victim to some form of financial crime within the past 24 months. With that said, the need for financial crime analysts has never been more sought after, with organisations continuously seeking support from specialists who can detect and prevent financial crime from causing severe financial and reputational damage.

The need for talent within the financial sector is clear, but what steps can aspiring financial crime analysts take to start a career within this niche? In this guide, we’ll provide an answer to this question as we outline what the role of an analyst is and our expert advice to jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst.

We’ll cover the following:

  • What is a financial crime analyst?
  • What does a financial crime analyst do?
  • Advice to jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst

What is a financial crime analyst?

Financial crime analysts focus on identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks such as fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes. Talent in this space collaborates closely with a company's finance department to comprehend existing and emerging threats. They also propose effective solutions and formulate policies and procedures to minimise and combat the various risks of financial crime.

If you're looking to excel in a career as a financial crime analyst, you'll need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the relevant financial laws and regulations. You'll also be expected to stay updated with the latest industry trends, changes and risks. The role of a financial crime analyst is pivotal for supporting an organisation's risk mitigation efforts, and overlooking even minor details could result in substantial fines and damage to the company's credibility.

Since we've outlined what a financial crime analyst is, let's delve further into the role's intricacies, including the position's key responsibilities.

What does a financial crime analyst do?

Jobseekers looking to gain a glimpse into the day in the life of a financial crime analyst can expect to work on tasks focused on identifying, investigating, and preventing financial crime. One significant responsibility of the role revolves around reviewing financial transactions to uncover signs of suspicious activity, with a keen eye for patterns that indicate potential signs of money laundering, fraud, or other financial crimes.

Conducting thorough research on potential financial crime cases is crucial for financial crime analyst jobs. They also collate and analyse data from account records, historical transactions, and client profiles. Taking a meticulous approach is essential for the role, and analysts in this role will focus much of their time on building robust cases against individuals or enterprises associated with financial crime.

Another primary responsibility of financial crime analyst jobs is collaboration. They will frequently liaise with law enforcement agencies, including the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the police to other financial regulatory bodies. This collaboration ensures necessary actions are taken against those implicated in financial crime, whether it involves sharing evidence, providing expert advice, or supporting ongoing investigations.

Teamwork is also integral to the daily activities of financial crime analyst jobs. Working closely with various departments, including compliance, risk management, and legal, analysts take a collaborative approach to ensure effective strategies are in place to combat financial crime within an organisation.

While the role comes with its challenges, including staying up-to-date with the world of financial crime, where tactics, laws, and regulations continuously evolve, the reward of becoming a financial crime analyst lies in contributing to a safer and more secure financial environment for individuals, businesses, and the broader economy.

For context, here’s a breakdown of the key responsibilities of a financial crime analyst:

  • Analysing transactions: Financial crime analysts will look at financial transactions for signs of suspicious activity that could indicate money laundering, fraud, or other financial crimes.
  • Case research: As a financial crime analyst, you’ll be expected to conduct in-depth research on potential financial crime cases, gathering and analysing relevant data, including account records and historical transactions.
  • Collaboration with law enforcement: You may have to liaise with law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies to contribute expertise, share evidence, and support ongoing investigations into financial crime.
  • Cross-departmental collaboration: Working closely with colleagues from various departments, such as compliance and legal, you’ll help ensure a company takes a comprehensive approach to combating financial crime.
  • Keeping up-to-date on financial crime: Financial crime analysts are also expected to stay updated with evolving financial crime tactics, laws, and regulations to effectively contribute to preventing and detecting financial crimes.

Ultimately, financial crime analysts are essential for maintaining the integrity of financial systems, and their dedication to preventing and combating financial crimes is pivotal for upholding the overall stability of the financial industry. 

Advice to jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst

If you’re looking to submit your CV for the latest financial crime analyst jobs but are seeking support on the steps to take before getting to this stage, this section of our guide is here to help. From acquiring the appropriate education, seeking out work experience opportunities, developing the essential skills and knowing the tools and technologies used by financial crime analysts, here is our advice to jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst.

Acquire the appropriate education

Our first piece of advice to jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst is to obtain the proper education. Most employers in this financial space typically require candidates to be equipped with a bachelor's degree, with some companies preferring talent with a master's degree in subjects including fraud management or economics. These higher-level courses are carefully crafted to give individuals the foundational knowledge and skills to identify and combat financial crime effectively. 

While a degree in fraud management or financial crime is well-regarded, aspiring financial crime analysts can also pursue qualifications in related fields such as accounting, business administration, or criminal justice. 

In addition to obtaining relevant degree-level qualifications, professionals seeking to enhance their expertise and kickstart their financial crime analyst careers often enrol in related certifications. Although optional, many financial crime analysts pursue certifications to demonstrate their commitment and expertise in the field to potential employers. 

Certifications can add a valuable credential to a candidate's profile, enhancing their chances of securing their desired financial crime analyst jobs. The International Compliance Association (ICA) offers several certifications tailored to financial crime analysts, including:

  • Specialist Certificate in Anti-Corruption
  • Certificate in Financial Crime Prevention
  • Certificate in Anti-Money Laundering
  • Specialist Certificate in Combating the Financing of Terrorism
  • Specialist Certificate in Financial Crime Risk in Global Banking and Markets

Overall, acquiring a combination of a relevant bachelor's or master's degree and industry-recognised certifications can be the solid foundation you need to begin your successful career as a financial crime analyst.

Seek out work experience opportunities

Next on our list of advice for jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst is to seek opportunities for work experience where possible. While there are no strict requirements for aspiring analysts to do so, cultivating a background of one to two years of professional experience in a related industry or role can significantly enhance your chances of securing the market's top financial crime analyst jobs

Your work experience can stem from voluntary to full-time paid positions. For example, many financial crime analysts begin their careers by starting in finance or accounting roles. These positions offer exposure to specific regulations and procedures governing financial activities and transactions relevant to enhancing your understanding of the intricacies of financial crimes. 

Another valuable form of experience you could pursue on your journey to becoming a financial crime analyst is in law enforcement. Here, you could gain insights into responding to criminal activities and enhancing your ability to analyse financial wrongdoing, such as fraud and money laundering.

Additionally, you could explore information technology or business administration opportunities to help you prepare for a career as a financial crime analyst. These jobs allow you to develop relevant skills in investigating financial crimes. Whether it's understanding technological nuances or developing knowledge of the business intricacies associated with financial transactions, these experiences can be invaluable.

When considering entering the financial crime field, practical experience can be a key differentiator. Many junior and entry-level financial crime analyst jobs require talent with a minimum of two years of relevant experience. Hands-on roles can help you better understand the practical aspects of identifying and mitigating financial crimes.

Establishing and building a robust network is crucial in the finance industry, and it becomes even more important if you're looking for work experience as an aspiring financial crime analyst. You could actively seek networking opportunities with professionals in the field, attend industry events, and engage in online forums to increase your chances of gaining experience and meeting your future employer. 

Develop the essential financial crime analyst skills

Another crucial step for progressing in the role is to develop essential financial crime analyst skills. From data analysis to the knowledge of banking systems and familiarity with financial laws and regulations and more, these are the essential soft and technical skills you should develop and continue to build on throughout your financial crime analyst career.

  • Data analysis: Expertise in data analysis is a crucial skill for financial crime analysts as the role requires talent to sift through large datasets to identify patterns and draw meaningful conclusions to prevent suspicious financial activities.
  • Knowledge of banking systems: A deep understanding of banking systems is essential for financial crime analysts as they’re required to navigate and interpret the transactions made on these systems to identify suspicious activities and potential risks.
  • Familiarity with financial laws and regulations: Financial crime analysts also require individuals to have in-depth knowledge of financial laws and regulations. 

This knowledge of compliance regulations should span areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) rules, Money Laundering Regulations, the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and guidelines from regulatory bodies for preventing financial crimes can be imperative for financial crime analyst careers.

  • Business administration: A comprehensive understanding of business administration gives financial crime analysts a broader perspective on organisational structures, processes, and strategies. This is a valuable skill to learn when assessing potential vulnerabilities and implementing effective risk management measures.
  • Attention to detail in identifying risks: Financial crime analysts must have excellent attention to detail and develop a keen sense of identifying suspicious activity. This skill involves recognising patterns, anomalies, and potential red flags within financial transactions, contributing to the prevention of financial crimes.
  • Ethical decision-making: Upholding a solid ethical foundation is another essential skill for financial crime analysts. They must make impartial decisions, maintain confidentiality with sensitive data, and adhere to the highest professional standards.
  • Coordination with the team: Effective teamwork and communication within the analyst's team are paramount. Financial crime analysts collaborate closely, share findings, and guide others within the financial team and wider business to mitigate risks and achieve collective success. This could involve keeping the team and employees across the company informed about new regulations, financial crime trends, and potential risks. 
  • Maintaining records of transactions: Accurate record-keeping of all transactions, especially those involving suspicious activities, is a crucial responsibility of financial crime analysts. This practice aids in tracking and preventing financial crimes while providing essential evidence if a violation occurs. Therefore, it’s crucial for financial crime analysts to develop diligence and organisational skills.

If you’re an aspiring financial crime analyst, you must cultivate a robust skill set encompassing analytical thinking, attention to detail, strong communication, and ethical decision-making. These skills, coupled with a solid understanding of financial regulations and operational competencies, could put you in a prime position for success in the financial space.

Know the tools and technologies used by financial crime analysts 

Our final piece of advice for jobseekers on how to become a financial crime analyst is to gain an understanding of the various tools and technologies utilised by talent in the role. Among the essential tools in their arsenal are AML software, advanced data analysis tools, and transaction monitoring systems. These technologies empower analysts to identify patterns, anomalies, and suspicious activities, providing critical insights into potentially fraudulent or criminal behaviour.

Keeping updated on emerging tools and technologies is imperative in the world of financial crime prevention. Financial crime analysts incorporate cutting-edge tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into their toolkits to detect potential signs of fraudulent activity. These advanced technologies enhance their ability to process extensive datasets efficiently and proactively combat the evolving strategies of sophisticated financial criminals.

Additionally, collaboration with IT departments or technology providers is common for financial crime analysts. This collaboration ensures the seamless implementation, customisation, and optimisation of tools tailored to their specific needs. By working closely with technology experts, analysts can enhance the effectiveness of their investigative work and ensure they’re utilising the best and the latest organisational systems and processes.

Ultimately, continuous learning through regular training and ongoing professional development is vital if you’re serious about progressing in the role of a financial crime analyst and growing and maintaining your technical expertise. Participation in industry conferences, workshops, and webinars could be instrumental in staying informed about the latest tools, techniques, best practices, and upcoming regulatory changes in the field.

Final thoughts on how to become a financial crime analyst

Overall, becoming a financial crime analyst involves a blend of education, hands-on experience, and a commitment to continuous learning. If you’re an aspiring individual looking to kickstart your career in finance, you should focus on acquiring the right qualifications, gaining relevant work experience, honing in on the essential financial crime analyst skills, and staying ahead of evolving industry trends. 

By taking on the advice we’ve outlined in this guide, you can pave a successful path in the challenging yet rewarding career of financial crime analysis and help positively impact the security and stability of the financial sector. 

If you’re ready to become a financial crime analyst, sign up for our job alerts today and be notified as soon as your ideal position becomes available. Alternatively, scroll below to get in touch and see how we can support you with your career aspirations. 

Seeking the latest financial crime analyst jobs?

If you’re eager to start your career or progress within the finance industry, we can help. As a specialist finance recruitment agency, our experts have connections with the biggest and fastest-growing companies within the finance sector. They can present you with the top financial crime analyst jobs to progress your career.

Contact us today to discover how we can connect you with the best financial crime analyst jobs on the market.