As banks in Asia increasingly compete to poach senior anti-money laundering (AML) talent, Citi has instead decided to relocate one of its current New York executives to fill its top Asian AML job.
Gretchen Goodall, a Citi veteran who’s been a managing director at the firm since 2008, is now Asia Pacific head of AML, based in Hong Kong. She previously spent two years as global know your customer (KYC) head for Citi's corporate and investment bank.
Goodall is now responsible for “embedding a strong risk management culture across the region through consistent alignment and application of our global AML program, policies and procedures”, according to her online profile. Although Goodall has held global roles at Citi, she’s not been based in Asia before and she now faces the challenge of developing a coherent AML strategy – and managing teams – across the region’s disparate markets.
Poaching an AML head with Asian experience from a rival bank would not have been straightforward for Citi, however, so parachuting in a US exec appears to make sense. Demand for AML professionals has surged over the past two years and senior people are particularly thin on the ground and well looked after by their current employers, say recruiters.
While compliance hiring in Asia isn’t generally as strong as at its 2015 peak, AML is bucking the trend as banks step up their efforts to detect money-laundering activities in the wake of the 1MDB scandal. AML specialists are the most “highly coveted” compliance professionals in Asia, says Grant Torrens, regional director of recruiters Hays, adding that salaries are still rising in this field because of a small local talent pool. Recent senior AML hires in Asia include Kelvin Kairong Toh, who joined HSBC from OCBC as head of financial crime sanctions.
Meanwhile, additional rank-and-file staff are likely to join Goodall’s new team this year. Citi currently has seven AML job vacancies in Asia, including an AML analyst in its Singapore financial intelligence unit.
Goodall joined Citi in 1999 after the bank merged with her former firm, Travelers. She then held seven senior roles at Citi in New York, including Americas KYC head for the Institutional Client Group (2014 to 2016).
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