Santander: Why a former military police was the perfect candidate to join the company


Emily Selkirk is Head of Corporate and Investment Banking Transaction Monitoring at Santander. Read our case study to find out why the transferable skills of a former Military Policeman, Tawanda Tahwa, made him the perfect candidate for a role within her team.

Emily’s role at Santander

Emily’s team sits within Financial Crime Control Operations, ensuring that Santander is an active member in the fight to deter, detect and disrupt financial crime. The team assist departments with customer facing roles, to ensure they have the correct controls in place as well as monitoring customer transactions and reviewing for any potential indications of financial crime. Where they do find unusual activity, they escalate for potential filing to the authorities as well, as working with other departments to mitigate the risk to the bank.

Transferable military skills for the financial crime sector

Tawanda Tahwa, a successful graduate of SaluteMyJob, IBM and Corsham Institute’s i2 analyst training course, impressed Emily and her colleagues at interview, with his transferable military skills shining through. Emily explains: “It was something that we saw in Tawanda in the interview; he is very personable and the team warmed to him right away. Tawanda displayed the qualities that I value in a team as well as his relevant experience; open and honest, diligent and a team player.  Tawanda has had experience in report writing and investigation skills so, although in a slightly different subject, those skills can be applied to his new role. Although we don’t use i2 in our team currently knowing how to visualise investigation patterns helps.”

SaluteMyJob’s candidate preparation stood out

With the help of SaluteMyJob, which Emily said ‘stood-out’ from other recruiting companies, Tawanda was able to impress at interview - and go on to successful employment. “I was speaking to a number of recruiting companies but the CV’s from SaluteMyJob stood out - financial crime experience, albeit from a different perspective. A variety of experience in different sectors is crucial – it wouldn’t be helpful if everyone had the same.”

Ex-military careers in financial crime

Solid organisational skills and working under pressure are just a few examples from the abundance of transferable skills that make ex-military personnel well-suited to a career in financial crime. Emily explains further: “To become successful in a transaction monitoring role, you need to have that ‘gut instinct’. When something doesn’t make sense you have the inquisitive nature to dig a bit more. Being organised also helps; you will be managing multiple cases at a time and are expected to prioritise your own workload.”

Santander’s ex-military community

Although Tawanda is the first ex-military person to join Emily’s team, Santander currently employs a number of ex-military personnel and reservists. Emily said: “Tawanda is the first person that I have hired from an ex-military background, although not the first ex-military person that I have worked with. My line manager at another financial institution was from a military background, I learnt so much from her on a professional and personal level. You can see the skills learnt in her military career, can be applied to her role within the financial services.”

To read Tawanda Tahwa’s case study, click here and if you have any financial crime opportunities within your workplace you need to fill, please contact us on 01249 691415.

Emily’s top 3 tips

Emily offers this valuable advice to ex-military job seekers interested in pursuing Financial Crime as their next career:

  1. Read and watch as much as you can. There is a wealth of information available out there; documentaries about drug trafficking and money laundering on Netflix to mutual evaluation papers written by inter-governmental bodies such as FATF.

  2. Continuous learning. I encourage my team to share articles or sources so we can increase our knowledge individually and therefore as a team. There are also then the formal learning routes such as ICA Certificates which are shorter courses that provide a good introduction into a field.

  3. Interview preparation. And when preparing for interview, I would recommend preparing some examples that you may want to draw on using the ‘STAR’ technique; Situation, Task, Action, Result. We aren’t expecting everyone to have experience in Transaction Monitoring but if you can give an example, articulated in a clear and concise manner,  where you have recognised and mitigated a risk that’s a great place to start.”