Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Ethical Conundrum

Every couple of years, we're required to do a remedial "Anti-Money Laundering"  (AML) course. Basically, it's to remind us to be alert for "suspicious" activity, such as large cash deposits on life policies (among other "red flags"). It's a licensing requirement, and isn't really a big deal (given online, takes maybe a half hour, tops).

I don't think I've ever had a client come in and pay actual cash for a policy, let alone a thousand dollars (the threshold). Still, I want to keep my license, so I do the course as required.

Reason I bring this up is because of a notice I received today from my primary carrier. Towards the end, it says this:

"For your clients who cannot provide and ID, do not proceed until you call [the compliance official] ... Please do not notify your client or give any indication that he or she is being investigated for suspicious activity." [emphasis in original]

Here's the problem: as an independent agent, I represent the carrier, but I work for the client. This instruction puts me in an uncomfortable - perhaps untenable - position: is my first duty to the carrier (and/or the law) or my client? The actual "red flag" in this instance is that I'm supposed to see an official photo ID (driver's license, passport, etc) when dealing with folks whom I do not know who proffer large sums of cash. The key there is "whom I do not know;" that is, if a long-time client and current policyholder walks in with a wad of $100's, well that's different from a total stranger in that circumstance.

Even so, if they're in my office to buy a policy, then aren't they now my client? And how does that comport with my duty not to disclose?

I really don't know what I would do in that scenario, and that is indeed a major conundrum.
blog comments powered by Disqus