What You Need to Know about the CAMS Certification & ACAMS Exam
While the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list may get the most attention, corporate fraud is one of their highest criminal priorities. It often includes things like insider trading, false accounting entries, and money laundering.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, money laundering has become a globally massive and evolving challenge that requires collaboration across every level, as it impacts financial institutions, non-financial firms, and international trade across the world.
In testimony about money laundering given before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, FBI Section Chief Steven M. D’Antuono explained that it’s estimated that illicit proceeds total over $2 trillion globally.
Threats that enable this type of crime and that make it important for organizations to invest in anti-money laundering training include:
- Illicit cash transactions
- Trade-based money laundering (TBML)
- Misuse of banks
- Obscured beneficial ownership
- Misuse of money services businesses (MSBs)
- Prepaid access to cards
- Virtual currencies
Since September 11, 2001, the anti-money laundering (AML) field has been revolutionized, creating complex challenges, imposing tougher standards regarding national and international legal requirements for financial institutions, and imposing harsher penalties.
The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) is an organization that helps promote sound anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing policies and procedures.
Anti-Money Laundering Training with ACAMS
One of the ways they do this is by offering an anti-money laundering certificate, referred to as CAMS certification.
If you are seeking a quick overview of key information related to the ACAMS certification and the CAMS certification, then this review guide will be a great AML training resource for you.
Below, we provide information on the ACAMS exam, CAMS certification fees, exam requirements, sample CAMS exam questions, types of CAMS AML certifications, and a wide range of additional information.
First, let’s quickly discuss ACAMS, the organization that administers the CAMS examination, sets the exam fees, and develops ACAMS exam questions.
ACAMS Cost, Exam Questions, Requirements, & Reviews | CAMS Certification Review
The surge in global money launderers, terrorist financing, and corruption have made it a priority for both financial and non-bank financial organizations across the globe to urgently seek competent AML and compliance professionals.
ACAMS is the global leader in responding to that need, having helped standardize AML certification by creating the CAMS designation.
The Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential is considered the “gold standard” in AML certification. The CAMS designation is only given to candidates who pass a rigorous examination and have a minimum of 40 qualifying credits.
Credits required to qualify for the CAMS anti-money laundering certificate can be earned based upon education, professional certification(s), and/or professional work experience in the sanctions or financial crime compliance field.
The CAMS certification has become the most sought-after and prestigious credential in the AML field and is a crucial asset in the advancement of careers and professional standing.
One of the key goals of the CAMS certification program is to set the standard for the AML profession.
The ACAMS is a trade association dedicated to the training and certification of anti-money laundering professionals nationwide.
Founded in 2001, ACAMS serves both public and private sector employees and organizations alike, with current membership reaching more than 60,000 individuals worldwide.
Through ACAMS certification and education, their mission is to:
- Promote international standards for the detection and prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
- Educating professionals in private and government organizations about required standards, practices, and strategies
- Certifying member achievements
- Providing network platforms for global collaboration
ACAMS’s certification program is focused on anti-money laundering initiatives and combines the practical application of current regulatory guidelines with in-depth training.
CAMS Training Program and Certification
ACAMS developed the industry standard for AML certification, known as the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential.
CAMS Certification Cost & Requirements
Since the inception of ACAMS, professionals within the industry have recognized CAMS as the most distinguished designation coveted by private institutions, governments, and law enforcement agencies.
About the CAMS Certification
The ACAMS CAM exam is an internationally recognized examination that rigorously tests for aptitude and expertise in anti-money laundering detection, prevention, and enforcement.
Each individual who passes the ACAMS certification exam becomes a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist® (CAMS), a designation that denotes one as an authority in the AML field.
CAMS Exam—ACAMS Membership Requirements
Before you dig into that ACAMS study guide it’s important to know that requirements for the CAMS anti-money laundering training and certification have recently been updated. We’ve got details on the CAMS designation updates coming up.
In order to sit for the CAMS examination, you must first be an active ACAMS member in good standing. Members can be private industry professionals (those who work in the private sector) or public (those who work in the government or public sector).
So, in addition to the CAMS certification cost, you’ll need to pay the ACAMS membership fee. Fees are listed below:
ACAMS Membership Fee, Required for CAMS Certification
CAMS Eligibility Requirements
Before you can enroll to take the CAMS exam and earn the certification, you are required to fulfill a 40-credit prerequisite.
For those who are curious about the ACAMS exam and the ACAMS certification, the CAMS calculator is a quick and easy way to determine eligibility via credits.
The changes to requirements that we mentioned for earning the anti-money laundering certificate are noted with “(New)”:
- Active ACAMS membership
- 40 qualification credits required from a combination of the following:
- 10 credits for Associates
- 20 credits for Bachelors
- 30 credits for Masters
- 40 credits for JD/Ph.D. (New)
- 10 credits for each year of anti-financial crime compliance experience, (New): with no limit (there used to be a 30-credits maximum).
- 1 credit for each hour of anti-financial-crime related training
This is how ACAMs calculates/allocates the 40-credit prerequisite:
You are eligible to receive 10 credits per year, for up to 3 years of experience (even if you have 20 years of professional experience, ACAMS will only accept 3 of the years). Three years of professional experience will give you 30 credits toward qualifying to take the CAMS exam.
Note: A full year means 12 consecutive months of professional experience. Such experience does not have to be related to AML. It can be in any industry or sector. Professional experience means “any” professional experience.
To clarify, professional experience does not mean any work experience. You can have work experience as a cashier, but that wouldn’t necessarily imply professional development.
Also, an internship or years of volunteer experience is great and can be included on your resume. However, technically, these do not count as professional experience.
Financial Professional Certifications
You are eligible to receive 10 credits for each financial professional certification that you hold. This includes certifications such as CPA, CPP, CRCM, CFE, CPE, NASD Series, etc.
The certification program must include a minimum of eight hours of instruction and the ACAMS certification exam.
You are eligible to receive 10 credits if you have an Associate’s degree, 20 credits if you have a Bachelor’s degree, 30 credits if you have a Master’s degree, and 40 credits for a PhD or JD degree.
AML Foundations Course
You are eligible to receive up to 4 credits toward the ACAMS certification exam for completing an AML course.
You also get 1 credit for each hour of attendance at a live or online training event on the topic of money laundering (i.e., seminar, conference, or webinar). As of January 1, 2021, individual members will be eligible to earn up to 2 CAMS credits per year through free ACAMS webinars.
CAMS Professional Requirements
As detailed by the Candidate Handbook for the CAMS Certification Examination, one additional update to the anti-money laundering training is that you will no longer be required to submit three professional references as part of your CAMS exam application.
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CAMS Certification Costs and Fees
Below are the various CAMS certification costs and fees associated with taking the CAMS examination, they include the ACAMS study guide.
CAMS Examination Package:
- Public Sector: $1,295 USD
- Private Sector: $1,695 USD
CAMS Virtual Classroom (includes access to six 2-hour consecutive web-based courses)
- Public Sector: $1,790 USD
- Private Sector: $2,180 USD
Taking the CAMS Examination
The CAMS certification exam consists of 120 multiple choice ACAMS exam questions. You will have 3½ hours to complete and answer all questions.
Keep in mind, there are no penalties for guessing. As such, ACAMS recommends that you complete all of the ACAMS exam questions (whether you know the answers or not) to maximize your chances of passing the CAMS exam.
They state, “It is better to guess than to leave a CAMS question unanswered.”
CAMS Examination Questions
The CAMS exam questions are centered around four main “domains” these include:
- Risks and methods of money laundering and terrorism financing (26%)
- Compliance standards for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) (25%)
- AML/CFT and sanctions compliance programs (28%)
- Conducting or supporting the investigation process (21%)
Sample CAMS Practice Questions
Q: Which statement is true about banking regulatory agencies having the authority to obtain information from regulated institutions?
- The regulatory agencies may only obtain information from the regulated institution’s books and records by virtue of a search warrant
- A search warrant may be substituted by a court subpoena compelling the institution to produce the information to the regulatory agency
- The agencies authority to conduct examinations negates the need for a warrant or subpoena
- If a regulatory agency intends to prosecute a regulated institution, a warrant or subpoena must first be granted before the information can be obtained
Q: Which three criteria does a shell bank meet according to the Wolfsberg Principles on Correspondent Banking?
- It does not conduct business at a fixed address in a jurisdiction in which it is authorized to conduct business.
- It does not employ one or more individuals at its fixed address where it is authorized to conduct business or maintain operating records at that address
- It is not subject to AML laws that require it to implement an AML program
- All of the above
Q: What does designating a country as being of “prime money laundering concern” allow the U.S. government to do?
- Obtain transactional information from U.S.-owned subsidiary banks located outside the U.S.
- Close some or all correspondent or payable-through accounts
- Ensure the inclusion of that country onto FATF’s Non-Cooperative Country and Territory list
- Ensure the inclusion of that country into the office of Foreign Asset Control country sanctions programs
For a comprehensive list of sample ACAMS exam questions, click below to view and download ACAMS’s 6th Edition CAMS Certification Guide.
“Study Guide for the Certification Examination” Sixth Edition (ACAMS)
ACAMS Study Guide
Where to Mail Your CAMS Application
Mail or fax your completed CAMS exam application AND supporting documentation (diplomas, copies, etc.) that demonstrates the 40-credit prerequisite to:
Attn. Certification Department
Brickell City Tower
80 Southwest 8th Street, Suite 2350
Miami, FL 33130 USA
Fax: +1.305.373.7788 or +1.305.373.5229
ACAMS Cancellation Policies
ACAMS does not issue a refund to anyone who registers for the CAMS exam and then cancels afterward. However, a change in the exam date is allowed at no extra cost.
Such a change must be completed at least 72 hours prior to the original exam date. If an ACAMS certification exam is rescheduled within 72 hours of the original date, a $100 fee will be due which is paid directly to ACAMS.
CAMS-Audit Certification Program
If you already have your anti-money laundering certificate, you can advance your knowledge of AML principles by completing the CAMS-Audit certification program.
Individuals who participate in the CAMS-Audit certification are equipped with the tools necessary to:
- Evaluate the effectiveness of BSA/AML compliance programs, suspicious activity reporting, and transaction monitoring systems
- Address and ultimately mitigate BSA/AML risks, including the correction of previously identified deficiencies
- Identify, analyze, and recommend improvements to AML policies and procedures in accordance with regulations
- Assess transaction testing in relation to risks or suspicious activities in order to determine adequacy
- Understand and communicate reporting requirements for independent testing
- Enhance audit role using AML training and compliance monitoring standards
- Identify communication techniques to increase message reception and collaboration
CAMS-Audit Exam Prices
- The CAMS-Audit exam price is $3,995 USD
The fee includes:
- Application administration fee
- Welcome Webinar on ACAMS Learning Management System (LMS)
- Live 3-day Program
- Course materials
- Breakfast and lunch for each of the 3 days
CAMS-FCI Certification Program
Individuals previously distinguished as CAMS professionals are able to further their knowledge of AML/CTF application through the achievement of the CAMS-FCI certification for financial crime investigative skills.
This ACAMS certification provides industry professionals with the unique ability to apply AML/CTF principles through:
- Utilizing critical thinking, as well as analytic skills, in an effort to determine the best approach to support investigations, case decisions, or suspicious activity reports.
- Disseminating new typologies and risks uncovered during investigations while efficiently adjusting controls, training, and due diligence procedures.
- Effective communication of information necessary to support law enforcement during investigations.
- Minimizing institutional risks while cooperating with law enforcement during an investigation.
CAMS-FCI Examination Prices
- The CAMS-FCI exam price is $3,995 USD
The fee includes all the same course materials and other items included with the CAMS-Audit exam fee.
What Does the CAMS Training Program Cover?
Each of the CAMS certification programs covers a broad range of topics, with CAMS examination questions focused on the following areas:
- How to conduct and support a money-laundering investigation
- Elements of AML programming
- AML/CTF risks and methods
- Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations for AML professionals
- SAR and STR Filing
- Money laundering and terrorism financing methods
- International and regional compliance standards and current regulations
Benefits of the ACAMS AML Certification Program
- Expansion of professional network through conference events and seminar participation
- Advancement in career due to CAMS’s position as an industry gold standard in AML certification and training
- Enhancing AML/CTF knowledge and skills through personal and customized compliance training
- Unlimited access to continuing education webinars through ACAMS membership
- Ability to track and manage individual and team goals
- User-friendly interface that keeps information current and easily accessible
Conclusion: Closing Thoughts on CAMS Certifications
The Cams designation is one that can open many doors for work in the financial sectors for both public and private organizations.
Keep in mind that, in order to stay current in CAMS certifications, individuals must complete the recertification process every three years.
Candidates are required to prove their commitment and dedication to the AML/CTF community by earning a minimum of 60 CAMS credits within that time frame. The requirement also includes that of those, a minimum of 12 CAMS credits are from attending ACAMS training events.
Conference attendance, web seminars, and live chats available through ACAMS do not require membership and offer a lot of helpful anti-money laundering training.
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AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.