Based in Toronto, Stuart Davis has over 28 years of banking and regulatory experience and has executed AML programs for 16 years. He is the Chair of the Toronto Chapter of ACAMS, Chair of the Canadian Banker’s Association sub-committee on AML and is the Co-Chair with Canada’s Department of Finance for the Advisory Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. Stuart is a frequent speaker on AML, blockchain and virtual currency topics and has spoken at the UN, Canada’s Parliamentary hearings, FATF, OECD, the commonwealth and other conferences globally.

Similarly, Angela Van Damme is responsible for architecting the Bank’s AML transformation efforts by aligning human capital, interaction models and technologies. As an experienced transformation leader with a background in financial services, Angela has overseen numerous organizational transformation programs that align structure and governance to strategy, and unleash the power of analytics and technology. Angela is a frequent speaker at conferences, including the federal government’s Digital Forward-50 conference and most recently, at Big Data in Toronto.

Maria: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path?

Angela: It unofficially started, funny enough, at Scotia Capital years ago, when I almost accepted a role as a Global Trader in a management trainee program for new MBA grads…then instead I decided to start my career in Telecommunications. I invested a decade in technology and operations building early web, customer-facing sites, improving technology processes, running program offices, and implementing call centre efficiencies. Then the power of analytics inspired me to move into strategy and data. Over the past decade, I shifted industries to focus on banking, leading departments in the areas of analytics, corporate strategy, pricing, and loyalty & retention; driving data-based decision-making and priorities.

Stuart: I started my career as a regulator but moved over to industry after a few years in areas of compliance and risk management.  I moved in the direction of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) following the events of 9-11 which inspired many in this field. I have always had an affinity for roles that are a hybrid of risk, technology, and leading change.

M: Thanks for sharing! How would you describe an “average” day in the office for you?

A: Mine starts with an early bike ride with the cycling club. From there, I connect with my team and colleagues on Financial Crime and AML transformation – the strategy, the operations of change and the decisions and execution required across our lines of defence. The Ecosystem environment we now have facilitates quick conversations throughout the day, too, with colleagues. This approach helps with decision-making velocity.

S: For me, most days are a skillful navigation between meetings across multiple topics.  Across the day, I am always looking for those opportunities to drive success and recognize great work. The day usually ends with me finally getting to check my inbox.  Downtime is a rarity.

M: Great! What are some items you can’t live without?

A: My road bike, coffee, a good watch, our farm in the County to which we escape year-round and notebooks. I learned years ago the importance of taking good notes.

S: For me, it’d be my family, sunshine and blueberries! I would also add my three phones, candy, and my Yes and No buttons! (Look closely at the phone with the sticky note.)

M: [Laughs] That’s awesome. How would you describe Scotiabank’s company culture?

A: The culture is performance and customer-oriented, and collaborative. While we’re 97,000 strong, you can connect with people from International Banking, Global Operations, the Digital Bank, Canadian Banking, and Technology, all in one day. Also, although we are diversified by business line and geography, federations across these are manifesting and support transparency and efficiency. People at Scotiabank are pragmatic and solution-oriented, and there’s so much institutional knowledge that can help accelerate new employees’ development.

S: I agree! From my experience, the Bank’s company culture is very collaborative; we want to do the right thing for the company and our customers and we are always looking for clear direction. Alignment is sometimes a challenge given our scale and scope - but when we find it - we execute well.

M: I totally agree!  With that in mind, can you tell us a little bit about your teams?

A: We are in start-up mode. [Laughs] We’re building the rock band! The leadership team is now building out the next level; with critical roles to be hired. Some of the roles we’re looking to fill on my team focus on transformation planning, governance, and business architecture.

S: And as we previously mentioned, AML touches many people across the Bank!  In the second line, we are slightly over 400 employees - but the number for folks working on AML is likely closer to 1700 across the full company.

M: Wow! So how do you recruit and retain the best people?

A: I always look for passion and drive in candidates, and not necessarily a linear career path. Varied experiences can help bring new perspectives to problem solving. It helps to have a robust university network to source emerging talent. Retaining the best people is all about the culture you create as a leader and the motivating work you do as a team.  I mentioned putting together the band. A big part of this is fit – the drummer needs to get along with the bassist, or there can be dissonance. So cultural fit is a big part of what I look for, as well as capabilities.  I ask candidates and team members: What are you good at? What do you like to do? Where can you make a difference?  If the answer to these three questions is the same and relates back to the roles they are performing, they are likely motivated and engaged.

S: We want our reputation to be the biggest attractor of talent.  When we have the energy and are making meaningful change and a positive work environment, people will find us.  Beyond that, I think that networking is absolutely essential. We want to find people who have a high level of engagement and are great networkers!

M: That’s great. How do you keep yourself and your team motivated and inspired?

A: Celebrating successes when stretch goals have been achieved goes a long way to connecting as a team. Getting to know individual team members enables an understanding of unique motivators, so these can be leveraged to inspire great work. I like to give the team the space they need to shine with their unique capabilities and invest in drawing these out. And of course, leading by example!

S: Agreed. If there is no risk, there is no reward. We need to continue to challenge ourselves; it’s a fresh start every day. I like the team to try to figure out at least one key priority for the day and get it done.  If you do that, it is amazing how much you will achieve together.

Interested in learning more about AML opportunities at Scotiabank? Visit