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April 17, 2020
By: Natasha Bright, Content Writer, ACSS

They are a new class of sanctions specialist; newly equipped with a broad understanding of sanctions compliance and the scores to prove it.

Last fall, the Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists began offering the Certified Sanctions Specialist (CSS) Examination. The test gives professionals the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the complex world of economic sanctions and then earn a credential that establishes them as experts in the field.

Taking the exam

Those who have taken the test and passed will tell you that the CSS distinction now attached to their name did not come easy. The test is administered at more than 5000 testing centers worldwide and once you check in, you are not allowed any prep material with you. You can only rely on how well you’ve studied and mastered the subject of sanctions compliance.

Dave Dekkers, managing partner of Dekkers Services & Solutions from the Netherlands and one of the first Certified Sanctions Specialists, described the 107 multiple choice exam as more difficult than he expected but says he came prepared.

“It was quite some work, but how you structure your test-taking work can help make your work easier or more stressful,” he advises.

Christina George, Public Affairs Officer with the United Nations in New York, had a similar experience. “It was more challenging than I expected, but it felt good to be in learning mode again,” she said. “I was initially nervous and then pleasantly surprised when I got my results. It made me proud to have put my focus and energy into studying a specific topic and then successfully demonstrating my grasp of it.”

In the real world

Whether you are a consultant who helps financial institutions guard against financial crimes and sanctions evasion like Dekkers, or a public policy expert at an intergovernmental organization like George, being a Certified Sanctions Specialist means a lot more than just three letters at the end of your title.

“Having the knowledge on a particular subject like sanctions in the field of financial economic crime is very helpful to do my work and allows me to see financial crime or particular behavior in a different light,” says Dekkers. “That can help pick out the bad guys more easily, or to see that certain activity is not suspicious.”

For George, it has given her a broader understanding of sanctions and their implications on business practices as well as bolstered her reputation. “Being CSS certified has improved my credibility as a professional working in international sanctions,” says George.

One thing that these two proud alumni certainly share is a drive to enrich themselves through education with the goal of becoming better at their professions.

If you are a sanctions professional who also wants to build on your career experience, challenge yourself, and proudly display your expertise, visit the CSS Certification page for more information.