International Compliance Training Academy (ICTA) is the Asia Pacific branch of International Compliance Training with an office based in Singapore. Andrew Glover, ICTA Regional Director and also Regional Representative for the ICA, discusses developments in the region.
What has been happening with ICTA over the last few months?
After four years in the MAS Building in Singapore we have now moved to a new larger office as we strive to expand our presence in the region and spread the professionalisation of compliance and AML.
A record number of students have enrolled on recent intakes in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and Hong Kong as compliance professionals continue to progress their careers in this exciting space.
ICA (the awarding body for the qualifications) has also just been awarded the FICS Inspiring Educator Award by the Institute of Banking and Finance in Singapore which is a tremendous achievement having only been in Asia for four years.
We have also been accredited for a further 4 years under the Council for Private Education in Singapore, demonstrating our strength of commitment to the region and also the quality of the training we are offering.
The FICS Inspiring Educator Award is a fantastic achievement. Has there been other news relating to the Financial Industry Competency Standards?
The Financial Industry Competency Standards (FICS) have been recalibrated this year by IBF and we are delighted that we have been, and will continue to be, heavily involved in this process. The new standards and qualifications will be available next year with a new Foundation Certificate being launched as a prelude to the Diploma.
What impact will this have on students looking to enrol in the future?
The key change will be that they will need to commence their study with the Foundation Certificate unless they have three year's relevant work experience. This current intake in Singapore therefore may be the last where individuals can jump straight in at Diploma level. So now is a good opportunity for those looking to get a Diploma qualification from the ICA to do so before the new standards are fully rolled out.
What changes have you seen with regards to the compliance environment in Asia?
Recent years have seen numerous changes worldwide and Asia has been no different. Following on from the FATF updates to the 40 recommendations in February 2012 we have seen major change on the AML front in the region. Hong Kong rolled out their Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance in April 2013 and has since had a number of high-profile money laundering cases resulting in prison sentences.
Similarly, following the updated FATF recommendations around tax evasion, Singapore has amended its rules on this to make tax evasion a predicate offence. This is a key change to the money laundering guidelines and has had a visible impact on business here. Malaysia has recently prosecuted individual cases for both money laundering and insider trading, in what is seen as an uptick in the frequency of cases of these types.
As well as this, Malaysia has revised its Capital Markets and Services Act, with a particular emphasis on changes to the registration of listed and unlisted products, although they do not see OTC Derivatives as a key area of concern at present.
Increasing global regulation and initiatives such as the UK Bribery Act, FATCA, changes to the FATF recommendations, guideline changes from IOSCO regarding derivatives trading and a generally much tougher stance on corporate governance have increased the burden of pressure on compliance and AML professionals. The demand for skilled and qualified practitioners is clearly on the rise and there seems to be little sign of the appetite for regulatory change to slow down. It looks as though the increased scrutiny of regulation in the global financial system is here to stay.
How do these tie in with other global changes?
It is important for professionals in this area to recognise the growing links between jurisdictions and also the trans-boundary nature of regulatory and investigative powers, highlighted most prominently by the US.
A notable change in general global regulation this year has been the splitting of the UK’s Financial Service Authority into two different bodies, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority, which sits under the Bank of England. This shift in approach is significant change and comes about at the same time as the new Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, starts his role. A recent UK Parliamentary report highlights, despite the existence of the Approved Persons regime, the fact that in all the turmoil in recent years, there was little personal accountability for significant failings. Individuals avoided direct blame, often relying on the fact that many of the questionable decisions were taken on a group basis. There is a call for responsibility for certain parts of the business, including compliance and AML responsibilities, to be clearly allocated to individuals who, in the event of any significant failings, must be personally held to account, including jail time, especially from politicians such as Elizabeth Warren.
Prosecutions from regulators show no sign of changing pace and recent cases involving Barclays and JP Morgan have been added to those imposed on HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank in a new era of ‘cracking down’ on poor banking practices. So far banks in the region have been relatively unscathed by the scandals of recent years, but the same could be said of Standard Chartered Bank until 12 months ago. So it may be only a matter of time before more banks in the region are caught up in similar cases.
What impact has this had on the courses you offer across the region?
ICA and ICTA as the training provider, continuously review course content to ensure it is relevant for industry professionals. We ensure our materials and course tutors are always up to date with latest developments and this in turn increases demand for the courses. As the regulatory environment becomes more complex, there seems to be a move away from generic mass market training to more direct solutions which provide tangible benefits to individuals and firms. We believe that the face to face teaching we offer, where current issues (occasionally including news that has only broken in the preceding 24 hours) can be addressed, means we are well placed to offer effective training in a credible teaching environment which is mapped and benchmarked to global standards.
Here in Singapore, the key change has been the recalibration of the IBF FICS standards, which ICTA has been actively involved in. This is a great example of working hard to ensure not only are the courses suitable from a competency perspective but also that they offer the best return on investment available.
How is technology changing the teaching environment for students and educators? What changes could we expect to see from ICTA in the future?
Technology has rapidly increased the speed of getting new ideas, concepts, materials and news to students and educators alike, meaning more engagement than ever before.
A key principle behind the work we do has always been an integrated learning approach, and technology has helped reinforce this. Whilst our interactive workshops are a fundamental part of our business, the ease with which we can now disseminate key materials to students has further enhanced the blended approach and allowed us to provide more information across more platforms than ever before.
The iTunes University teaching platform was rolled out in Singapore early this year with students being provided with iPad minis to access their materials. This has allowed our students to have a much more streamlined and efficient teaching experience and given them a useful aid not only for their studies, but also for use in their daily working environment. We hope to roll this out in Hong Kong later this year.
We also plan to roll out iBooks Textbooks that will enhance interaction and further improve the ease of accessing key information and using resources.
What do you see on the horizon for the remainder of 2013 for ICTA?
We have seen a huge increase in the demand for training from individuals and employers in the region and this looks set to continue.
With the recalibrated FICS standards in Singapore, we can look forward to an increased range of courses for the local market. In Malaysia we will soon roll out a national suite of compliance programmes mapped to local laws and regulations (an industry first there) and we are running more courses in Hong Kong than at any time in the past. The hugely successful networking events in Singapore will continue and will also start for the first time in Hong Kong so there are plenty of ways to stay connected with ICTA. We hope to see you all at one of our events in the near future!