Unconference Success: How Compliance Professionals Are Transforming Their Industry

TL;DR Summary:

The Unconference Format: Collaboration at Its Best

Unlike traditional conferences with pre-set agendas and keynote speakers, the unconference format is dynamic and driven by the attendees. This setup ensures that the discussions are highly relevant and tailored to the immediate needs and interests of the participants.

Setting the Agenda

The unconference began with participants collectively deciding on the agenda. This involved brainstorming topics of interest, voting on them, and scheduling sessions based on the group’s priorities. This method fosters engagement and ensures that everyone has a stake in the success of the event.

As one attendee put it, “The unconference is all about the people who attend on the day. That’s what makes the event.” This sentiment was echoed throughout the day as participants dove into discussions that mattered most to them.

Key Sessions and Insights

The unconference featured a variety of sessions, each rich with insights and practical advice. Here are some highlights:

Investigations and the Fraud Triangle

One session focused on the intricacies of conducting investigations, highlighting the importance of separating the investigative and decision-making roles to maintain objectivity. The discussion also touched on the concept of the fraud triangle, emphasizing the need to understand the motivations and pressures that can lead to fraudulent behavior.

AML and Sanctions

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) was a hot topic, with several sessions dedicated to best practices and challenges. Participants discussed the importance of ongoing vigilance even after filing Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and the complexities of dealing with sanctions, especially in light of recent geopolitical developments.

Client Account Management

Another key area of discussion was the management of client accounts. Best practices for ensuring compliance and preventing misuse were shared, along with strategies for verifying the source of funds. The importance of cultural understanding in financial transactions, particularly with international clients, was also highlighted.

Outsourcing Compliance

Outsourcing parts of the compliance function can provide significant benefits, but it requires careful management. Discussions emphasized the need to choose the right partners who align with the firm’s values and objectives. The importance of maintaining oversight and accountability, even when functions are outsourced, was also a key takeaway.

Engagement and Communication

Effective communication of compliance requirements across the firm was a recurrent theme. Techniques for improving engagement, from top-level management to front-line staff, were explored. The role of consistent, clear communication in fostering a culture of compliance was underscored.

The Social Aspect: Building a Strong Network

Beyond the structured sessions, the unconference provided ample opportunities for informal networking. The event kicked off with a social gathering, allowing attendees to connect and build relationships in a relaxed setting. These bonds are invaluable, providing ongoing support and collaboration long after the event ends.

The Value of Supplier Engagement

Suppliers and external partners played a crucial role in the unconference, offering diverse perspectives and industry-wide insights. Their participation enriched the discussions and provided attendees with a broader understanding of the compliance landscape.

Looking Ahead: Future Unconferences

The success of this unconference has set the stage for future events. The next unconference is already scheduled for November, promising more opportunities for compliance professionals to come together, share knowledge, and innovate.

Participants left the event not only with valuable insights and practical strategies but also with a renewed sense of community and support. As one attendee noted, “The real relationships we’ve built here are special and unique, making a significant impact on our professional lives.”


The unconference model has proven to be a powerful tool for fostering collaboration, innovation, and professional growth among compliance professionals. By creating an environment where attendees drive the agenda and share their expertise, these events ensure that the content is relevant, practical, and immediately applicable. The success of this recent unconference highlights the ongoing need for such forums and sets a promising precedent for future gatherings.

For compliance professionals looking to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving field, participating in an unconference can provide invaluable insights, connections, and inspiration. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this transformative movement—mark your calendar for the next unconference and prepare to engage, learn, and grow.

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