Financial crime investigation is a tough but rewarding career path – one that demands integrity, collaborative relationships with law enforcement, and strong investigative and analytical skills.
“My previous experience has showed me the direct impact of timely and insightful financial intelligence. Whether that is keeping drugs off the street, protecting vulnerable members of society, or ensuring justice is upheld – these are the reasons we do what we do. One case I assisted with in a previous role used financial intelligence to locate and rescue a number of children from a situation of exploitation. While it’s the most heartbreaking case I was involved in, it’s by far the most rewarding.”
That’s Libby Stevens – Manager, Financial Crime Investigations and Screening for Crown Resorts.
Based in Melbourne with a team across Crown Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Libby is one of three managers in the Financial Crime Investigations and Screening (I&S) team. She and her team are responsible for investigating unusual financial activity and reporting to AUSTRAC, as well as escalating identified risks to senior management.
As managers, our role is to guide our teams and empower them to perform their roles confidently and effectively. We look for opportunities to build our team’s capability and enhance our insights and encourage our team members to do the same.”
Libby has experienced a range of corporate roles in both the private and public sectors – including supporting law enforcement by providing financial intelligence analysis. (Of course, it helps that she studied Criminal Justice Administration at university!) It was during her time in a corporate administration role that she discovered her love of working with data and spreadsheets to gain new insights through analysis.
I wanted to push myself beyond the data I was used to working with, and was grateful to receive a short-term opportunity to work as an Intelligence Analyst – I loved it! I secured a permanent role, focusing on professional money laundering operations which led to several years of varied and challenging work in that field. Then, I took another plunge into the unknown and joined Crown in a newly created role as a Senior Analyst in the Customer Investigations team. Our Financial Crime function has experienced significant growth over the last year, during which I was promoted to my current management role.”
She shares three lessons in leadership from her career journey in financial crime investigation.
#1 On choosing the right organization
With a background in supporting law enforcement, Libby wanted to find an organization with a genuine appetite to see, explore and address financial crime risk.
At Crown, I’m surrounded by colleagues who want to do the best job and aren’t afraid to have challenging, honest and robust conversations when needed. We’re aligned in our purpose and values, which will allow us to succeed. While Crown is known as a premier destination for our customers, the company also has high levels of staff retention which is a reflection on the quality of staff experiences.”
The complex and nuanced world of casinos can be a bit of a mystery to people. So, as part of the financial crime investigations team, Libby and her team make sense of the data and present it in a way people can understand.
We do this in a way that goes beyond our regulatory obligations and truly informs government and law enforcement agencies. This can have a huge impact. I’ve seen from my work in the past, that something seemingly small and insignificant can actually be a crucial piece of the puzzle years later.
Choosing the right organization has allowed Libby to grow into her current management position, and work in a role that aligns with her values.
We inform the executive leadership team about potential risks and identify options to mitigate that risk. Our role is to protect the financial system from abuse. I really enjoy problem solving and being mentally challenged – so finding a role in an analytical team, within a company that is willing to do the work behind the scenes, was a perfect fit for me.”
Did you know Crown Resorts have dedicated women in leadership programs and have committed to 50:50 women in leadership by 2024?
Find out how else Crown Resorts support their employees professional development.
#2 On learning
Libby has worked closely with her senior manager and learnt from his leadership style. This inspires her to establish a clear direction and take considered steps into the uncertain. Or, as she says: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
She also takes the time to learn from those in her team. In particular, three analysts who were recently promoted to senior analyst roles.
I’m blown away by their resilience in what has been a time of much change. They each have strong experience from their work in other companies, which they use to guide their less experienced colleagues, and support the management team. I am grateful for the different perspectives they bring to our work.” Libby has also benefited from leaders who have shown confidence in her and provided her with opportunities to grow.
By being given autonomy, I’ve been able to demonstrate to myself I can achieve the things I set out to do. Every time I have thanked my leaders for their support, they’ve told me to pay it forward by providing support to others in turn. In management roles you have to give people space and allow them to find their feet.”
Libby has taken this responsibility to pay forward the support she received seriously, knowing her role can have an enormous impact on her team.
I want to be part of the reason someone feels valued, seen, and supported to stretch themselves out of their comfort zones. I’m proud every time a team member has told me my support or example has helped them achieve something they were striving for, or get through a challenging time.”
#3 On progress
As Libby has developed in her career, she’s seen the flaws of perfectionism.
“Perfection prevents progress. Striving for perfection may be stopping you from achieving success.”
Early in my career, I worked on a new database. The logic wasn’t making sense! Things appeared differently between the back end and front. In dwelling on these problems, it blinded me to the fact we didn’t need this to be perfect to get the database functioning – we could manage this after it went live. Sometimes you have to let the little things go and keep the big picture in mind. Striving for perfection may be stopping you from achieving success.”
The opportunities Libby has had to stretch herself in her roles has largely been due to the people she works with.
“Everyone I speak to within Crown is generous with their time and expertise. I’ve felt very supported in gaining the knowledge I need to do my job well.”
In Libby’s growing team, while bringing on new people and processes can present their own challenges, she accepts it as part of the learning process and is working to sustainably build their capacity.
This growth adds diversity. Yes, we’re all analysts, but we’re all from very different backgrounds. We use our different ideas, perspectives and experiences to take the best of all worlds and ensure we don’t have tunnel vision.”
The broadening financial crime and compliance division has also created space for specialization.
“When you’re spread across functions, it can make for interesting work, but it can also mean you have limited time or expertise in each area. Greater specialization and performing deep dives allows us to identify areas for improvement. .”
When Libby first began in her small team at Crown, the majority of senior managers were male. But since then, there has been amazing progress and growth in women leadership.
I’ve felt supported by both male and women leaders alike. Even if you can’t see women leaders in your organization, you can still be inspired by male leaders. To me, the sign of a good, supportive workplace isn’t necessarily an exact 50:50 gender ratio split in senior leadership at one moment in time. Its where capable women leaders are given opportunities based on merit. In time, the ratios will balance out. And yes, I absolutely saw that potential at Crown, and can see how it’s paying off in the numbers now.”
For others considering a similar career pathway, Libby shares:
“You never know what’s possible until you try. Push out of your comfort zone and don’t stand in your own way!”