The Visionary.
Getting to know our CCO Denisse Rudich

22 June 2020

Denisse Rudich “The Visionary”
Chief Compliance Officer & Co-founder @ ELEMENTARYb

As part of our series in getting to know what motivates our founders to build Eb, we introduce our CCO Denisse Rudich in this first chapter.

What Denisse, Dea as we call her at Eb, had always wanted was “the opportunity of being able to influence the landscape of financial crime to make society a better place.” With a career spent in the field of financial crime prevention and anti-money laundering, her sense of purpose is now higher than ever. The ELEMENTARYb project gives her the unique chance to operationally and concretely set up a structure to fight financial crime, and not only to think strategically and in abstracto about it. Dea firmly believes that MMEs are the best prototype client base to create a new model of governance that could  be scaled down or up as needed.

As things stand, on the risk, compliance and regulatory front, there is a wide perception that the regulatory model has not sufficiently evolved and is no longer fit for purpose. Regulators are asking for ever-increasing amounts of data taxing legacy systems and processes. Firms spend US$270 billion[1] on compliance annually.  Meanwhile, current capabilities to fight financial crime and fraud are woefully insufficient, leading to up to $2 trillion[2] losses per year. Far from being victimless crime, these staggering amounts finance human trafficking, drug abuse, fraud and a multitude of other crimes directly impacting society.  The temptation to steal from the public purse and launder the funds is also great.

One word that comes back again and again in Dea’s rhetoric is “collaboration”. When asked about it, she replies: ”you need a group of people who care enough to do the research, to do the work and act according to principles of collaboration and co-creation to protect both financial institutions and consumers.” She reckons the human factor is key in making financial crime prevention efficient: “internally, you need collaboration across silos; externally, you need and co-creation and collaboration with customers, regulators and financial institutions.” Denisse sees the emergence of certain technologies – like artificial intelligence, machine learning, network analysis, blockchain, real-time data – as huge opportunities for the industry when it comes to financial crime prevention.

“I’m an optimist
dealing with really dark issues”

So the fight against financial crime is not unsurmountable but it requires leadership to engage the community (financial institutions, law enforcement, intelligence agencies and civil society) to work together more efficiently, and apply new tools collaboratively.  This has been done internally at individual institutions, but if processes and technologies can be shared more openly in the community, and across sectors (for example, baking and accounting) there is more chance of having a significant positive impact.  The risks and benefits are amplified in today’s hyperconnected world.

What is striking about Dea is her ability to constantly link together the abstract legal framework of financial crime prevention with the concrete impact its failings can have on human lives. Talking me through procurement and loan fraud to bribery, human trafficking and slave labour, she illustrates how lives can be destroyed when breaches happen. The human element, which is the weak link in financial crime, is also the solution: “by collaborating across the organisation, with civil society, staff, regulators, other industries, technologists… people have good ideas!” she exclaims.

“I studied international relations and diplomacy and went straight to work for the Organisation of American States.“ When asked how on earth she landed such a cool job as her first work experience, she replies laughing: “Because of language skills I inherited and a very strong can-do attitude.” This gave her an incredible opportunity to learn about grand scale corruption, but it also cemented the suspicion that she could have greater impact working in the private sector.

Denisse started getting involved with Anti Money Laundering (AML) at G7 (and later G20) Summits whilst at University, writing her Masters thesis on the G7 and AML, and continued through her appointment in the forensics arm of a law firm. Her jump into financial services was the result of her decision to move to the UK with her family to work where money ultimately flows, in banks. This is when she really got the opportunity to understand how people’s behaviours can be influenced when their livelihoods are at stake.

And Denisse will put financial crime and fraud prevention at the heart of Eb’s approach. Our technology will be built to protect our clients, achieving our ambition to protect them from the ever evolving risk of financial crime. We will build the technology and the processing capability to apply the programmes and models to proactively identify, contain and address criminal activity identified across wider and multiple data sets. And our model, framework and capabilities will be designed to address the regulatory burden of today, and anticipate the requirements for tomorrow… without legacy, from the very start.

She concludes by saying that she is doing what she can to hopefully make the world a better place. “You have got to try,” she says.

[1] ​Thompson Reuters True Cost of Compliance 2019
[2] World Economic Forum 2018 Statistic; 2% of Global GDP