In a recent edition of Women in Finance, Radar interviewed Alma Angotti, Managing Director and Global Investigations and Compliance co-lead at Navigant, a Guidehouse company. She spoke candidly about her career, the challenges facing the compliance space, and the challenges of being a likable woman in the industry.
Who was your regulatory superhero while you were at the SEC in terms of achievement or mentorship or integrity, or some other attribute?
There were so many talented and committed people at the SEC so that is a hard question to answer. But I would have to choose Bill McLucas, former Director of the Enforcement Division, now at WilmerHale. I reported to Bill the entire time I was at the Commission. Bill is a great lawyer and great manager. He had respect for the lowest level staff lawyer on a case because he understood that the staff lawyer really knew the facts. He could, in five minutes, ask the most relevant question about a case. He always acted with the utmost integrity and fairness. I really learned how to be tough, but fair, by working for Bill. He was also a lot of fun and a champion for the women who worked with him in a Division that was dominated by men.
Linda Thomsen, former Enforcement Division Director, is a brilliant lawyer. She led the Division with poise and good humor, and was responsible for some of the SEC’s most important enforcement actions. I was also fortunate to work with Commissioner Elise Walter at both the SEC and FINRA. She is one of the smartest women I know and a talented leader. I learned a lot from both of them.
Over your time in enforcement and compliance what would you say has been the biggest change you’ve seen to the industry?
Technology, technology, and technology. From marketing, to compliance, to the design of new products and services; technology has affected everything. Fraud and transaction-monitoring systems are beginning to use artificial intelligence and machine learning. Investment advice can be provided by algorithms. You can borrow money through online peer-to-peer lending. Cryptocurrency and digitized assets may decrease the cost and increase the ease of cross-border transactions. We are also seeing financial institutions focus on technology to simplify front-end client acquisition and engagement. The fintech mantra is: little to no friction in the client experience. Of course, simplifying customer on-boarding and the customer experience will have to be accomplished while managing the potential fraud, financial crime, and market risk.
You’re currently Managing Director and Co-lead of Global Investigations and Compliance at Navigant. What’s the most rewarding part of your role at the moment?
I love working with the team. The people in our practice are so smart and have a diversity of experience that enables us to provide our clients with stellar advice and operational assistance. I feel like we have managed to capture that sense of mission that I felt at the government. It is also rewarding when we really help a client identify what caused a compliance failure and to fix it, manage a regulatory issue, or successfully complete remediation of a compliance program. I know it sounds corny, but the financial institutions are helping to keep the world’s financial systems a bit safer and it is gratifying to be part of that effort.
How about the most challenging part of your role?
It can sometimes be difficult to convince a client to proactively enhance compliance programs and upgrade compliance technology, absent regulatory pressure.
It is also rewarding when we really help a client identify what caused a compliance failure and to fix it, manage a regulatory issue, or successfully complete remediation of a compliance program.
Alma Angotti, Managing Director and Global Investigations and Compliance Co-Lead