Meet Rachel Houston – AML Consultant, FCS Compliance

Find out more about the AML experts at FCS. In this interview, FCS PR Director, Alison Blease introduces you to Rachel Houston…

Today’s interview is with Rachel Houston, an AML consultant with FCS Compliance.

Hi Rachel I’m really looking forward to our chat today and learning more about your background and your role within FCS. I know that you’ve had an interesting career. Tell me a little about what you got up to before you joined FCS.

Hello Alison! Yes I have had an interesting career so far – everything from event management, recruitment, marketing and AML. I began my career in corporate hospitality where I ran high-end events for big leadership clients at places such as Wimbledon and Cheltenham.

It was a great training ground. I learnt how to deal with and not be daunted by, senior business people, how to build relationships, and as part of looking after VAT returns and accounts more generally, how to read financials. All of this has stood me in good stead for the job I do now.

And then I believe you moved abroad?

I moved to Cyprus and learnt Greek and how to read a little Russian. And this is when I began my career in anti-money laundering (AML) when I took a job working for a Cyprus bank.

But then came back to the UK?

Yes, I came back to the UK and had a wide range of roles from marketing where I worked on a number of large launches, business development and recruitment.

In 2011 I moved to Marlborough in Wiltshire and worked for a European business in a marketing role, before joining a privately owned AML business. The work centred on enhanced due diligence on behalf of international private banks. 

One of the company’s clients was a Cypriot bank which obviously linked back to my time in Cyprus. I first started working there as an analyst and completed Customer Due Diligence (CDD) on international clients. While there I completed a qualification to become a member of the International Compliance Association – essentially a certificate in AML.

By the time I left, almost 10 years after joining, I had become a senior analyst and a team leader training other analysts.

In lockdown I moved to Derby and worked for a law firm in Sheffield which took me into the regulated sector. Here I worked as part of an AML team completing CDD for clients.

And then I spotted the job at FCS, applied, got it and joined in April last year.

My, that’s some career! What do you do at FCS?

My work is varied – I carry out CDD for FCS clients and have recently started completing some of the Policy and Procedure manuals. I’m also looking to start doing some of the refresher training courses for clients.

I love the work. It’s so varied and there’s the opportunity to learn more which I like.

I ask everyone this, but the answer is almost always different! What are the common AML mistakes that you see?

Cutting corners! People are so focused on closing the deal that it’s easy for them to miss or overlook things. Our job is to ensure they don’t miss or overlook anything that could result in reputational damage and a hefty fine. We work with agents, not against them – we’re here to help protect them and their businesses.

And do you have one piece of advice to give clients?

I do! I would say there is no smoke without fire. If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, then it probably isn’t. You can’t cut corners, being compliant isn’t something you can hurry.

And remember money launderers are always one step ahead. They’re constantly changing and adapting their means of laundering money. They have the potential to make so much and they’re risk-takers who will lose lots to gain more!

Thank you Rachel that’s all sound advice! It was great catching up with you today.

Thank you – I enjoyed it.

Learn more about the FCS Compliance Team here.