What Is the ACAMS Certification? With FAQs and Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you work in the anti-financial crimes industry, having in-demand professional certifications can boost your performance and enhance your employability. One highly respected credential in the profession is the Advanced Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS) certification. Having this important credential can help take your anti-money laundering career to the next level. In this article, we discuss what the ACAMS certification is and answer commonly asked questions about the topic.

What is the ACAMS certification?

ACAMS certification is an advanced anti-money laundering certification the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) offers to qualified members of the body. This association is the global body that provides industry-leading training and certification on financial crime prevention and control and its credentials are recognised and highly respected in the private and public sectors. The ACAMS certification provides mid-level and senior management anti-money laundering professionals with the knowledge and ability to perform advanced anti-financial crime functions, improve internal anti-fraud controls and enforce regulatory requirements in organisations.

The certification programme is the result of years of collaboration among the industry's leading experts. If you meet the qualification requirements, you can pay for the certification, get the study materials and take the certification exams. The exams are created with highly researched psychometric practices designed to test and validate every aspect of candidates' knowledge and application of anti-money laundering regulations and requirements.

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Who is the ACAMS certification for?

The ACAMS certification is ideal for mid-level and senior-level professionals who work with financial crime prevention, detection and control. You can get the certification if the following apply to you:

  • You conduct or intend to perform anti-money laundering or financial crime compliance audits.

  • You perform or want to perform control functions.

  • You're part of a first-line assurance team or second-line compliance monitoring team.

  • You perform independent testing of anti-financial crime controls.

  • You hold a senior position in a bank or a non-bank financial institution.

  • You're a professional in the Fintech industry.

  • You work in a financial consulting firm, such as those that perform financial audits.

  • You hold a senior position in the finance or treasury department of a large corporation.

  • You work in an organisation that has a financial crime compliance policy.

  • You provide consultancy services as an external auditor.

  • You work in the internal audit department of a company.

  • You manage employees who perform financial crime prevention audits.

  • Your job functions include enforcing financial regulatory policy.

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What are the eligibility requirements for the ACAMS certification?

The examining body expects candidates who wish to earn the ACAMS certification to meet these qualification requirements:

Membership of ACAMS

To get the ACAMS certification, you're expected to be a member of ACAMS. First, you're required to register on the ACAMS website and then apply for membership. Membership requires you to have a minimum of 40 credits, which are issued based on your anti-money laundering qualifications and experience. For example, you get ten credits for one year of relevant industry experience and receive 30 points for a master's degree. You can attend free webinars on the ACAMS website to get more credits. Each webinar grants you one credit.

Passing the CAMS exam

Before you can apply for the ACAMS certification, the association expects you to write and pass the CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) exam. To do this, you require membership of ACAMS first, then you can download, complete and submit the examination form on the body's website. Note that candidates are expected to provide proof of credits.

You also require three references who can vouch for your knowledge and experience of anti-money laundering practices. Once you provide these, the association is going to approve your application and you can pay for the examination. If you pass the CAMS exam, you're then eligible to apply for the ACAMS certification examination if you meet the experience requirements.

Relevant experience

While passing the CAMS exam qualifies you to take the ACAMS certification examination, the association recommends that candidates have at least five years of relevant experience in the anti-money laundering industry. This is because the exam tests candidates' knowledge of highly complex concepts. To increase your chances of passing the examination, having extensive experience can make it easier to make sense of the case-based questions and choose the most appropriate answers.

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What topics does the ACAMS certification exam cover?

The ACAMS certification exam covers several core topics, including:

  • the function of the third line of defence in anti-money laundering regulations and control

  • strategies for identifying sanctions evasion techniques

  • prevention of financial crime through the risk-based approach

  • understanding of the relationship between business operations and regulatory requirements

  • strategies for reviewing risk assessments, previous audits and regulatory examinations

  • data collection

  • strategies for evaluating, testing and reviewing anti-money laundering policies and procedures

  • strategies for evaluating risks and identifying serious financial crimes risks

  • strategies for evaluating the performance of existing anti-money laundering controls and their ability to reduce risks

  • techniques for validating weaknesses in organisations' financial crimes controls

  • reporting

Related: What Does an External Auditor Do? (Plus Duties and Certifications)

What is the structure of the ACAMS exam?

The advanced anti-money laundering specialist certification exam comprises 90 questions and candidates get three hours to complete it. The exam has two parts, including a multiple-choice section where you select one answer and a multiple select questions segment where you choose all applicable answers. For example, the exam tests your knowledge of complex cases using case studies with tables and multiple questions that evaluate your industry knowledge and ability to interpret and analyse financial data. At the end of the exam, candidates receive their results immediately. You can take the test at hundreds of accredited centres all over the world.

Related: FAQ: What Does a Compliance Auditor Do? (With Salary)

Tips for preparing for the ACAMS certification

The ACAMS certification is an exam that requires thorough preparation to increase your chances of passing. Here are tips to help you ace the exam:

Gain relevant experience

To increase your chances of passing this exam, acquire as much real-life anti-money laundering experience and expertise as possible. That way, you have a deeper understanding of the questions and can better synthesise the data and provide relevant answers. While you might want to get the certification quickly to boost your employability and position, it's advisable to follow the body's recommendation and wait until you have adequate industry expertise on the subject.

Study early and extensively

Even if you have industry knowledge, it's also important to study hard and extensively. Start studying before scheduling your exam. When you apply for the exam, you have until six months to take it. Use most of that time to go through the study guide and review the practice questions.

Use the practice exams

Both the standard and upgraded exam packages provide practice exams. While none of the practice questions are going to appear in the actual exam, they can prepare you for what to expect and let you know the intensity of study required to achieve a pass mark. One great feature of the practice questions is that some have answers and others don't, which allows you to vary the difficulty level of your study.

Get the virtual classroom bundle

Getting the virtual classroom bundle can increase your chances of passing the ACAMS certification exam. The virtual classroom bundle comprises six two-hour live online classes that provide candidates with additional training and preparation to help them better understand and assimilate key concepts in the study guide for the exam. During the live classes, you can interact with the instructors and fellow candidates, including asking questions about ambiguous concepts, seeking clarifications and receiving general and specific advice regarding the study materials.

Why get the advanced CAMS certification?

Acquiring the advanced CAMS certifications provides several benefits, especially for senior anti-money laundering professionals, including:

  • Protects the organisation's AML programme: This certification gives you advanced professional skills and knowledge to manage, improve and safeguard your employer's anti-money laundering programme, which helps the company comply with relevant industry and legal requirements.

  • Fulfils regulatory obligations: In many financial and affiliated industries, professionals in the anti-financial crime department require specific expertise to perform their duties effectively. Getting this credential allows you to meet those strict requirements.

  • Proves your expertise: Being certified as an advanced anti-money laundering specialist gives you the credentials to perform high-level financial crime functions, including international anti-money laundering monitoring, control, detection and prevention activities. It can also qualify you for senior management and consultancy positions independently or within large private and public organisations.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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