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How Strong is your Bullpen? - Preparing your Financial Institution's Fraud Management Organization for the Future

Call it your “bullpen”, “back-up”, or your “bench strength”, but how are you preparing your financial institution's fraud management organization for the future?

Far too often we run into situations where we have one extremely strong resource that gets called upon to resolve the toughest of tasks. Short term, the department runs smooth and all of your fires are under control, but what are you doing to ensure that your fraud management bullpen is prepared to come into the game when your star is injured.  How many times have you been faced with a difficult situation only to find yourself trying to figure out how the previous person solved the problem.  I suspect that some of your losses can attributed to lack of experience solving problems and we all know that experience, speed and agility are often our best defenses.

Having been both a manager of a fraud shop and a consultative partner, I can attest that having a strong bullpen not only ensures a smooth operation, but also serves as a “sleep-aid”.

The idea of developing bench strength is not new, but as fraud managers we often lose sight of this extremely important part of our contingency plan.  Although the physical resource designated as the backup is important, more important is the overall plan for developing the pipeline and “what if” scenarios that WILL come into play.

To build a successful fraud management bullpen, we need to begin with a solid plan.  The plan should include items such as:

1. Contingency – What are you going to do if your rock star walks out the door today?  No one wants to think about this, but if it has not already happened once within your organization, you are one of the lucky few.  

2. Career Path – What does the successful career path look like for your bench?  Think about the type and level of experience they need before they are ready to become an effective backup.

3. Personality, behavior, work ethic – What traits must the right candidate possess?  We certainly thrive on diversity, but there are particular characteristics that a successful candidate will possess.  It is up to you to determine which ones are inherently present and which ones can be coached.

4. Stimulate their brain – I have always preached that there is no room for complacency in fraud and doing the same task day in and day out may promote some level of complacency.  There are several key components of managing fraud in every program, mix it up, move people around to help stimulate their brain and create a well-rounded team. 

5. Develop a strong partnership – What can your vendor-partners do for you in a pinch?  There should never be a shortage of people who are willing to help when your put into a an unfavorable situation.  Work with your vendor-partners as they typically provide training, consultation, and in some cases will serve as a temporary fraud analyst or risk advisor. 

As risk managers, our job is to expect the unexpected.   If we plan appropriately, work efficiently, and have solid contingency, we should never have to worry about the state of our fraud management shop.

Until next time, stay focused and build up that strong bullpen, Spring training is here!