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Spotlight with Sabrina Persaud, Senior Compliance Manager, Toronto

Michelle Lee June 19, 2018

Tell me about your role at Cambridge.

I am the Senior Compliance Manager and that entails account opening, transaction monitoring and payments. Our biggest concerns are suspicious activity, sanction screening and trying to protect Cambridge from any sanction violations or any fraudulent activity.

How long have you’ve been at Cambridge?

I’ve been at Cambridge for a year now.

What attracted you to join Cambridge?

I spent a long time working for the big five banks in Toronto. I found it really difficult to learn all aspects of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and fraud because the banks are so structured and stringent. We didn’t know what departments talked to each other, so in terms of AML and fraud, we didn’t know what fraud did. However, here at Cambridge, it is much smaller. I get to look at everything, review everything and understand all the aspects of AML and fraud.

If you were to describe what your job entails to someone who has no idea what compliance is about, how would you explain it?

We protect the company from any deficiencies, from any fines, and we protect Cambridge’s reputation.

Why is Compliance so important?

That is a loaded question! Our relationships are with the banks, so we have accounts with a lot of the top banks. In order to maintain those relationships, we need to be compliant with the various regulators, such as FINTRAC in Canada, FinCEN in the US, and similar agencies in the UK and in Australia. Compliance is a huge component of the company, as we need to be compliant in order to maintain our licenses.  Therefore, when we get audited and the report shows that we have deficiencies, it looks poorly upon Cambridge and our banks as well.

If someone on your team were to describe you in one word, what would the word be? And why?

Understanding.

I try to see things from both angles. I would have sales reps that come to our department, saying that their client wants to trade today and we need to onboard their client today. I understand the urgency, because there is profit involved, but at the same time, we as Compliance have to do our job. We have to make sure that whatever the sales reps are doing is compliant. It is all about finding that balance and understanding both aspects.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Solving problems. I think that is what compliance is. I will have escalations and I will have sales reps coming to me and saying “I have this client and I don’t know how to onboard them”, “I don’t know what to do with this client, they are refusing to provide this documentation, what can we do?” That is mostly my job, finding a middle ground by solving their problems.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The most challenging part is trying to find a balance between sales revenue and protecting Cambridge’s interest in terms of compliance, sanctions, fraudulent activity, and suspicious activity. Although we are protecting Cambridge, we also have to think that at the end of the day, they are in the business of making money. It is all about finding that balance and that middle ground.

Did you always know you wanted to be in Compliance?

I was client-facing first and compliance was a part of the client-facing job. In that job, I had to explain the compliance rules and regulations, and that’s when I started to gain an interest in compliance, and that’s when I moved forward into Compliance.

How has your previous experience led you to a career in Compliance?

I have been in Compliance for a long time, about six  or seven years. Prior to that, I was in hedge fund administration. I dealt a lot with the client side of things, so understanding the client aspect also helped me find a career in Compliance. I understood where the clients were coming from and all of the A-Z requests that we have in Compliance. Trying to make a client understand why we need this information is really difficult, so I think that helped me to transition into a compliance role.

If you weren’t working in Compliance, what would you be working at?

I would be in a client facing role that would be more administration.

What is the best book you have read?

That’s a tough question. I would have to say A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

Do you have any passion projects?

I am expecting a baby in one month! Besides that, one of my passion projects  would be golfing. I really like golfing so that’s my side project –  I’m trying to be a better golfer.

What is your philosophy in life?

Try not to stress about the things you can’t control.

How can we help you?

Let us get to work on helping you today.

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