Rachel Goodyer, Chief Financial Officer, Bayleys
Tell us a bit about your background, your current role and responsibilities
Seems such a very long time ago now, being a young girl of 16 leaving school and starting a career in chartered accountancy with a local Chartered Accounting firm in Gisborne. My first 16 years I worked my way up from the bottom, and I literally mean the bottom….making morning and afternoon tea for the other staff! At the end of leaving this firm I was managing the financial statements and tax for our small-medium business sector and Maori Incorporations/Trusts.
I went on to work in another local Chartered Accounting firm for 7 years in Gisborne before being approached by James Macpherson, the owner of Bayleys Realty, to join his team in a finance role. After three years, I relocated to Hawkes Bay as we expanded into this region, and the Wairarapa.
I am currently the Chief Financial Officer for Bayleys managing four company’s finances over the Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Manawatu regions.
All was good and well…..until AML/CFT came along. Nothing could have prepared me in having to take on this additional role and the challenges that we would face.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
I am a problem solver, and love helping others to achieve their goals in business. Working in the commercial accounting sector is fast-paced, exciting and rewarding, especially when we become successful in our collective goals.
What is your opinion on AML/CFT?
My initial thoughts….. a major businesses interrupter! You would expect that being in New Zealand we would be immune to being affected by money laundering and financing of terrorism, however that is not the case. We can all say that it comes as no surprise that money laundering has been occurring in New Zealand for considerable time across a
lot of sectors. Question is, “the impact this is having on our business due to time undertaken and cost, how much of this is arraigning these criminals?”. Understanding the role we play in the greater picture is crucial, being informed through education is essential, but I think we also need to balance this with asking the question if we are actually making a difference.
What made you interested in AML and financial crime?
If I had to start my career over again, I would love to have been a criminal lawyer. Not sure if I should mention that the Mafia has always intrigued me… “The Godfather, Sopranos, Goodfellas” a few movies and dramas to mention! Always have to remember though that they always have some so-called “Good Cops” on the payroll (lol). Seriously though, there is a dark side to all of this which most of us don’t see.
I didn’t sign up for this role, I was thrown into it and had no option but to get onboard and implement it. I was fortunate to have the background I had as it was easy for me to identify entities and what was required from each client.
What is the most important thing you have learnt when it comes to AML?
One of the most important things I have learnt is that you can’t take people at face value anymore. Sad, but true. No one’s word can be taken as truth without evidence to back it up. As much as we tell clients that we require their personal information as evidence to satisfy the AML/CFT Act for the real estate sector, this part of our job never gets any easier.
Not everyone is a criminal, yet everyone is made to feel like one. To hand your personal information over to a real estate salesperson is the last thing that any one in their right mind would want to do. Educating the sales agents to “know their client” can never be underestimated. Being professional, knowing what it is you are asking from the client, and why you are asking for it, determines whether the client will have a good, or bad, experience.
What are some of the biggest challenges in AML?
Where do I start! Implementing this into our real estate businesses was the biggest challenge of all. Real estate agents come from all different walks of life, so educating them on the AML/CFT legislation framework was not any easy task. For me personally it took a lot of patience, boldness to stand firm in my decisions as the AMLCO, but it all paid off in the end.
From my perspective the first year was the hardest, was the year from hell, but since then has got easier. When we started out, we didn’t realise how much of my time it would consume. It was a fulltime job, on top of the fulltime job I already had. After a year we employed another AMLCO to takeover the role to relieve me, but I’m glad I did it and I’m proud of what I achieved in implementing it to such a high standard.
What would you consider the key thing people forget or do not understand when it comes to AML?
Basically, it comes down to one thing. Perception. So many people perceive AML to be personally invasive. Explaining the reason why we collect information helps this process immensely. During my time as AMCLO, if there was ever a client who a sales agent was struggling with, I would contact them personally and explain why we ask for the information to be provided. This always resulted in the client providing the information, but not always accepting the reason and would blame the Government for being invasive. I don’t think that will ever change.
Do you think your sector adapted well to being under the AML/CFT Regime in New Zealand?
Yes, I do think we have adapted extremely well. Ongoing education is always important for our sales agents and finance team on our obligations.
How do you keep up to date with all things AML?
Across the Bayleys franchise network within New Zealand all the ALMCO’s meet once a month via Teams. Our Head Office AMLCO provides our whole team with updates, changes, training, and question and answer sessions. We also attend training sessions by REINZ, the FIU when available, and receive information via the DIA, and others.
What is the most rewarding part of working within your sector?
The people, the culture, and most of all our “Altogether Better” philosophy. Working together as a team, even though an old cliché, is what builds confidence, loyalty, and empathy for others. What better place to work than this.
Rachel Goodyer, CFO, Bayleys TOP TIPS
Top three tips:
- Have boldness in your decisions – it takes confidence to do this, but it’s worth it
- Never stop learning – the world is ever-changing, always take the opportunity to educate yourself
- Perception – the ability to change one’s mind when something is interpreted and understood. Communicate it right the first time.
Read more from experts dealing with AML compliance in the real estate industry with Contracts & Compliance Manager Robert Green.