This is an interview with Brian Miloscia, a Compliance and Due Diligence professional in the financial service sector, done by Naomi House of INALJ. This is part of INALJ’s 2020 series on non-library jobs for library workers.
On Due Diligence Work :
an Interview with Brian Miloscia
Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand what Due Diligence work is and how LIS folk can get into this field. First could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you got your MLIS and what you do?
My name is Brian Miloscia, and I am a New Jersey native. I inherited my love of reading from my mom. I never leave the house without a book. I love spending time in libraries and bookstores.
I got my MLIS from Rutgers University through its online program, which was a tremendously rewarding experience. Even ten years ago, I felt the classes were designed to foster cooperation and positive dialog with my classmates. The projects we worked on required so much more collaboration than anything I had ever done as an undergrad. I still connect with a number of my classmates nearly a decade after graduation.
For the past 13 years I have been working for large commercial banks conducting anti-money laundering investigations and enhanced due diligence research. Currently I manage a team of screeners, researchers and investigators based in Manhattan, Montreal and Mumbai.
Q2: Now can you tell us how You personally got into doing this type of work?
I got my bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice from Rutgers, and I got into the private sector after spending my first 6+ years out of college working for the New Jersey Division of Law & Public Safety as a Fraud Investigator in Newark. I had a strong background in law enforcement and investigative work.
A former colleague of mine turned me on to the idea of working for a bank doing Anti Money Laundering Investigations because the underlying work was quite similar, even if the focus was different.. He was right. I applied for my first job at a firm, when I didn’t really know what money laundering was. I did my research and found out that most banks have a tuition reimbursement benefit- which was how I was able to get my MLIS.
I knew that there was a synergy between library-style research work and general investigative work, but not too many take this kind of leap. I get a kick out of the reaction from my colleagues when I tell them I am a librarian. I am still basically a unicorn in the industry. I haven’t met another Librarian/ AML Specialist/Law enforcement type yet.
Q3: What makes this a great field for LIS workers and likewise, what do you think makes LIS workers strong candidates for hiring managers in this field?
Since the financial crisis of 2008, there has been an increased demand for Compliance and Due Diligence professionals in the financial service sector. Banking regulations have gotten more strict and the examiners and auditors have gotten tougher and the fines for non compliance have skyrocketed, sometimes into the billions.
The nature of the work requires us to be able to find information from public sources and quickly evaluate it for relevance and materiality. You need a high degree of information literacy. We use a number of databases and vendor-based search tools such as PACER, Lexis-Nexis, Bankers Almanac, West-Law and many others. Particular skills such as building and using databases and spreadsheets and understanding how search engines work are used every day. It sounds silly to say you can be better at Googling than someone else, but this is very true.
Having a strong understanding of how people search for information and human-computer interaction has helped me build better information repositories and file structures. Sharing information within a bank’s many divisions is critical- so knowing how to organize and present that information is just as critical.
As a manager I call upon a lot of the fundamentals of knowledge management I learned while getting my MLIS to build training materials and schedule meetings designed to share and transfer knowledge and skills throughout the team. In today’s world, employees may stick around for a year or two before they move on. As the manager, it’s up to me to make sure I capture as much as possible all of the skills and knowledge they build up so I can maintain the team’s performance if one of my team members moves on to a new role. This becomes invaluable for shortening the learning curve for new joiners as well.
Finally, with the costs of post graduate education increasing rapidly, it’s important to consider the earning potential in any career path. The financial sector is a place where you can make it worth your while. At least anecdotally I can say that you can earn significantly more in the financial services sector than in more traditional LIS fields.
Q4: What is the best way to get your foot in the door or your first due diligence job?
In today’s world, the best way would be to look for roles for due diligence or Know Your Customer (KYC) professionals on the big job sites. I also like to go directly to the bank’s careers page and search. Look for keywords such as Enhanced Due Diligence or EDD or KYC analyst. There is a lot of work at the entry level for contract or part time work – which can lead to full time rolls at a firm or a consultant company. You may not be able to get a job for a firm directly, but by working as a consultant, you can build experience and make contacts and build your reputation as a professional. As a hiring manager, I always prefer to hire someone I trust or who comes recommended from someone I trust. If you have a proven track record as a consultant- you have a leg up on the random resume the HR contact will send over.
Q5: Finally what are some of the most important skills / certifications / etc that LIS folk can do to prepare them? Any last tips?
If you are looking outside the realm of traditional libraries as a career, then I recommend taking the courses that are more transferable. Take the courses on searching, public records, web design, classes pertaining to data organization and presentation and anything with analytics.
Tools such as Excel, Access and Tableau were a part of my MLIS education- and I use those tools every day. By taking a number of the more technical courses, such as website development and information visualization, I am able to speak to vendors and IT professionals on their level. That helps to solve problems and avoid costly mistakes by ordering the wrong software or contracting with the wrong consultant. Most financial companies require a lot of referential data from various systems and require reports synergizing that data. Knowing how information feeds through systems is important. Even knowing PowerPoint and Adobe comes in handy.
As for certifications, the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists or ACAMS is pretty much the standard. For the cost of a couple of grad school classes you can attain a certification which you will see as a preference or requirement for many jobs in the field.
Lastly, when looking for work, be creative. If you take the right courses, your skills will be in demand in many different fields. Don’t be limited by the word “library” or “librarian” when searching. Good luck!
Rutgers Class 2001
Rutgers MLIS, 2011
ACAMS Member since 2013
FINRA Series 99
New Jersey resident.
I enjoy reading, traveling to Italy, bicycling and soccer.
Views expressed are those of the interviewee and not INALJ or their employer. Photo provided by the interviewee and permission granted to use it for this interview.