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Numbers her love

Tony Best

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Ever since the abhorrent acts of 9/11 triggered the global fight against terrorism, “know your customer” has become much more than a slogan in banking circles.
It is an article of faith for employees of financial institutions across the United States and in almost every country that belongs to the United Nations. Walk into a retail bank, say in New York, and try to open an account and the information you must disclose is enough to boggle the mind. The source of your funds, photo identification, proof of residence and your mother’s maiden name are but a handful of the bits of information a bank may demand.
But if those things are required for relatively small sums, consider what one of the world’s largest international money management institutions, with assets of almost US$3 trillion, demands of potential clients who are multi-millionaires or even billionaires.
“You must know your customer, pure and simple, and what all of that entails,” asserts Jan P. Franklin, a Barbadian who is vice-president in charge of compliance at that global bank with offices on Wall Street. “The provisions of the Patriot Act in the United States mandate we know who our clients are and the source of their wealth. If the information provided doesn’t make sense, then we wouldn’t do business with that person or company.”
Team leader
Every weekday morning, the mother of two teenaged children – a son 14 and a daughter 13 – travels from a New York suburb to the world’s best known financial district in Manhattan where she heads a team that delves into the background of potential or existing clients of the bank to ensure they are not engaged in illegal activity such as money laundering, or even worse, the financing of terrorism.
“If you are a teacher whose only source of income is your salary but you have accumulated several millions of dollars in net worth, chances are we wouldn’t do business with you,” said the banker who grew up in Rendezvous Gardens in Christ Church and has made the United States her home since 1978. “We must be able to understand how you accrued the wealth. I routinely do business with millionaires and billionaires. You can’t simply walk in off the street just and secure our services.”
From her days at Unique High School in Barbados, going right through New York’s Fordham University which awarded her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance and management, she always enjoyed “dealing with numbers”. However, she does more than pursue her professional banking career and raise her children. She devotes much of her spare time to social causes especially those involving the youth.
And an outlet for her volunteer impulses is the Young Barbadian Professional Society, YBPS, a seven-year-old organization whose “global network programme” fosters career development, offers educational scholarships and mentoring opportunities to young people from Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean, and encourages social responsibility.
A founding member of the society, Franklin has served as its treasurer, worked on its educational and scholarship efforts, and has been deeply involved in its economic development exercises that aim to spur investment in Barbados. Led at different times by Rennee Cutting and Christian Hylton, the society has awarded over US$30 000 in scholarships to Barbadians, organized investment seminars in New York and has secured US$30 000 in pledges to establish an endowment fund whose resources would be channeled into youth development activities.
Like several other members of the society, Franklin has committed herself to funding a scholarship to help youth achieve their dreams through education and training. On August 8 when the society holds its international career forum in Barbados as part of the Barbados Network consultation, Jan will be a key player extending a helping hand to Bajan youth, often in one-on-one sessions.
“The YBPS is a marvellous organization that is committed to enabling the youth of our country or those in the diaspora to realize their dreams,” said Franklin.