First Republic: Protecting Clients and Country

Bill Ward, Chief BSA/AML and Security Officer, First Republic
October 7, 2014

Executive Vice President Bill Ward, Chief BSA/AML and Security Officer for First Republic, shares his thoughts about combatting money laundering through Know Your Client programs. Bill draws on more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, corporate security, fraud prevention and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/anti-money laundering compliance.

Protecting Clients and Country

Does it seem like banks have been getting too personal lately? Have they been asking more probing questions than ever before? If they’re looking to protect clients, protect assets and protect the country, then the answers should be a resounding “yes!”


Financial institutions nationwide are stepping up anti-money laundering efforts. Stemming from legislation enacted in the USA PATRIOT Act following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, anti-money laundering regulations are in place to thwart access to the U.S. financial system from criminals —such as drug traffickers, tax evaders, fraudsters—and terrorists around the globe.

It was discovered that funding for the events of 9/11, at least in part, was hidden through a series of transactions that were not overtly tied to terrorism. Given the threats that persist throughout the world today, the U.S. is intent on minimizing the role of its own financial community in supporting nefarious acts. Although the legislation may have been passed 13 years ago, maintaining and enhancing the requirements will continue to be an ongoing process.

Today’s banks are required to gather information from their customers to ensure that assets moving into and out of an institution are in line with their expectations, and do not present unnecessary risks. Through Know Your Client programs implemented across the U.S., banks achieve greater transparency of client needs and account activity while mitigating their own potential risk of unknowingly participating in illegal activity. Such information helps law enforcement starve criminal and terrorist elements from financing their operations globally.


Banks have long been a centerpiece for both individuals and organizations within a community. As such, they have a responsibility to protect the interests of those communities. Simply put, the Know Your Client program is the right thing to do.

First Republic’s Know Your Client program allows bankers to know more about their clients through greater transparency and ultimately provide a deeper level of service. Bankers will be having more conversations with clients and requesting more information, such as sources of income, expected activity and citizenship.

In addition to complying with regulations, the Know Your Client program enables representatives to serve customers at a higher level. With a more complete picture of an individual’s situation, our bankers can offer more tailored advice, resources and options for managing assets. Whatever the need—be it consolidating debt or connecting with a private wealth advisor—First Republic bankers can be true partners in developing appropriate solutions.


At First Republic, doing the right thing and delivering extraordinary client service are core values that have contributed to steady growth and a solid reputation. The Know Your Client program is an opportunity to continue serving customers well and with integrity. As one of the nation’s largest banks, First Republic is committed to the program and to protecting clients, the bank, its communities and the nation as a whole.