Member Profile
Ian Matthews: From Correspondent Banker to Sanctions Professional

June 22, 2021

ACSS interviews Ian Matthews, winner of the May SanctionsConnect Sanctions News Quiz. Ian is based in London and is Director, Sanctions and Anti-Bribery & Corruption in the Corporate & Institutional Banking division of National Australia Bank Limited

ACSS: Can you tell us where you work and what you do?  

Ian Matthews: I work for National Australia Bank in London. I am in the first line financial crime advisory team specializing in sanctions compliance and ABC in the Corporate & Institutional Banking division.

ACSS: Can you give us a sense of what a typical day looks like for you? 

Ian Matthews: I am part of a wider, global team, so a lot of time is spent managing a diverse internal network on things such as governance, policy development and providing ad hoc guidance. About half my day is spent working with NAB’s front-line businesses on specific questions that arise from our customer operations – be they screening alerts, sanctions CDD/EDD, adverse news monitoring or new transactions.

ACSS: How did you get into the sanctions field?

Ian Matthews: Accidentally, rather than by planning. I was previously a correspondent banker for a UK bank and dealt with customers across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia at a time when my former employer was having its own discussions with OFAC. 6 years spent working in Dubai completed my immersive experience in the world of sanctions. I joined NAB as a correspondent banker but was invited to join the sanctions advisory team after 4 years when they wanted to enhance the team with some European- and business-centric skills. The last three years have had a steep learning curve!

ACSS: How long have you been a member of ACSS and what is the experience so far? 

Ian Matthews: I joined ACSS when the London Chapter was set up last year. I enjoy the fact that its sole focus is on sanctions, as sanctions often appears only as an add-on to AML in many other professional groups. This means members have more in common, as well as have a greater diversity of backgrounds from across all sorts of industry sectors.

ACSS: What do you find challenging in your work as a sanctions officer? 

Ian Matthews: I am a natural conciliator and always try to find the middle ground. There are times in our work when we need to stand firm and just say “no” – I find that difficult.  On the other hand, it means I really try and get to grips with all the arguments before saying no, and that means I can be more confident in my decision or advice. Hopefully this means I have a reputation as a facilitator and that – when I raise objections – they get listened to.

ACSS: What is your tip for other ACSS members who work in sanctions?  

Ian Matthews: Do your homework, stay informed and stand your ground if you need to.

ACSS: Do  you have a mentor in the sanctions field? Who is it? 

Ian Matthews: I have two, but I will not embarrass them by naming them – they don’t know they are my mentors! One is a colleague who has helped me convert from being a correspondent banker to a sanctions specialist by acting as a ‘second pair of eyes’ and picking up the tricky decisions in the early months. The other is a leading expert globally in sanctions compliance in a particular industry – he must dread me suggesting a coffee and a chat, as all I seem to do is draw down on his knowledge.

ACSS: Are you CSS certified or considering becoming CSS certified?

Ian Matthews: I have only recently joined the ACSS and am not yet certified. I have done a couple of other qualifications before joining ACSS and will certainly consider this qualification during my next round of development reviews.

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