Emailage On-Demand: How to Quarterback an Organizational Fraud Strategy


Emailage, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company,  provides on-demand recordings of all virtual events. The article below is a transcript of our recent event How to Quarterback an Organizational Fraud Strategy, a discussion with Amador Testa, chief product officer at Emailage and David Liu, vice president of global fraud prevention at American Express. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How do you build a deep bench?

David Liu: …the story is that anytime we do anything really transformational, it basically touches everyone. So are we going to interact with the customer differently? Will we share data with the merchant to resolve concerns? What if you didn’t do that before? That’s transformational. And it will mean you have to talk with product owners and whoever owns the PNL. You’ll have to talk with legal experts to get approval to do this new risky thing. You’ll have to work with operations that you often work with tech. So it will always be highly cross-functional.

How do you get others in the game?

Amador Testa: For me, it always just started with alignment with my leader…making sure we’re on the same page. And once that happens, you go through a process of securing the budget. 

Unfortunately, there is not enough time or resources for all of these strategic initiatives, so you have to become really good at prioritizing.

One of the things that I always try to do is a cost benefit analysis:

  • How much are we going to invest? 
  • How quickly can we achieve that? 
  • What would be the end impact?
  • Is that aligned with the big goals of the team? 

And once you do all of that, you end up going to a road show. You defined the capabilities. Then you have to put these amazing decks together and start convincing other departments. 

It’s always easier when some of these other departments have KPIs you can leverage, because you can put some of your goals as part of their goals. You can definitely get more traction.

How do you get everyone to run the same plays?

David Liu: It’s very helpful to think about fraud as an enabler of the product. Meaning that, superficially, all of our metrics are generally judged on how much money are we losing or how many customers are we stopping? But instead, you can change the playbook. 

Instead, say things like what new products are we enabling? And how are we key to letting our companies innovate and drive revenue and growth. In the new environment everything’s moving to digital. And we are key to making that safe and secure and giving customers the experience that we all want. Certainly American Express, we’re very customer-centric and customer experience focused.

So instead you can say we can help you enable these products you want. It will be great for the business. But we have to be working on building its foundational capabilities.

If the best offense is a good defense, what does a good defense look like?

Amador Testa: So fraudsters, they keep on changing. So it’s always different, you don’t get bored. But on the other hand, you need to keep on innovating.And you need to identify your what what I call like are key control points. Key control points are areas of risk. Where you have some vulnerabilities. 

The second thing is there is no silver bullet. So unfortunately, there is no one tool where you can say,”Wow, I’m going to use this capability. And that’s going to stop all my fraud events!” 

You can stop all your fraud events, but you might stop all your business as well. So this is why a multi-layered approach works, because it’s a framework for risk tolerance based on your business.

What does winning really look like?

David Liu: We’ll all be judged first by the question: Were there large fraud losses? If there are large fraud losses, you lose. That’s like getting knocked out. And then after we can control fraud losses, well, then you can say, is there a very good customer experience? Meaning it’s smooth and frictionless. And because of that, they buy more stuff or more people are onboarded. And that’s winning, but winning on points. And then after that, you can say, are you enabling important new products?

Who makes first string? And what about the sixth man?

David Liu: You want your team to be as large as it can be. Which means your team is not just the people who report to you. It’s the people you partner with. And likewise with vendors. Sometimes there’s a competitive view. So with every vendor partner I’ve had and I’ve had many, we’ve come to them with lots of suggestions and we’ve asked what are your data sources? And we shared some details about our problems so they can be more innovative as well. But it’s not just vendors. Ask yourself: Can you partner more actively with every person you touch? 

What is the profile of a great coach?

Amador Testa: You need to have a strong team. So I think it starts with selecting the right individuals for your team. Being open minded, being like, I’d say, a student of the game…being humble and open to ideas and connecting with others.

The things that make a really great fraud leader are the same things that make a really good leader in general.

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