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02 February, 2023

#32 Portret van een vrouw in de financiële sector: Elifcan Cetin

Portrait of a woman in finance: Elifcan Cetin

Can you shortly present your role as today in the organisation 

Today, I work as a KYC Policy and Process Expert and advisor of the AML/CTF/Sanctions policies in COO domain to improve/optimize KYC related processes, so they can be fully compliant with the Global KYC policy and NBB Regulatory Requirements.

What brought you to finance?​

I believed I was destined to end up in the financial world as I come from a “financial” family. My dad was a foreign trade manager and my mom worked for Türkiye İş Bankası (one of the biggest and oldest banks in Turkey, founded by Mustafa Ataturk himself). I never felt any pressure to enter the financial world, but for me it was only natural that my future would be in finance. At the University of Istanbul, I studied Labor Economics and Industrial Relations, followed by an MBA. My first step in the business world was as Management Trainee in commercial credits & foreign trade for wholesale bank customers, before becoming an Internal Control auditor in Tax & Accounting. In 2014 my financial journey brought me to ING Bank and KYC. First for ING Türkiye, then ING NL and now ING BE. My journey continues, and I’m happy to be in the financial world. 

What did you learn recently regarding gender equality?

Gender equality is about accepting that men and women are equal, also in decision-making positions. Look at Pinar Abay, who became the first chairwoman of ING BE in the 150 years history of the bank. This makes me happy because I also remember one of my friends back home who graduated as a mechanical engineer, and she was the only woman in her class. She told me that up until recently it was not that accepted for women to be hired by companies in “male” jobs.

I strongly believe that every person has their own abilities which makes them unique and worthy. Therefore, the community that you are in, the country that you live in, or the gender that you have should never matter when it comes to achieving your goals and making your dreams come true.

What was one of the decisions that had the most impact on you/your career? ​

When the KYC Enhancement Program at ING NL was created in 2017, I was SPOC KYC for Retail Banking at ING Türkiye, so I made the decision to move to the COO domain to be part of the whole KYC Enhancement Program from the beginning. Quickly my name became linked with the department and before I knew it, I was known as “KYC Elifcan. Thanks to this decision, I became the most important contact for KYC at ING Türkiye, which quickly led me to moving to ING NL, and now ING BE.

What would you tell your younger self?​

Live! On a personal level I would tell myself to travel more, to go on Erasmus, to not overthink what people say, and to put myself first more. Careerwise I would tell myself to try different jobs and work areas. If you’re not happy, change your plan, and never ever take comments from toxic people in your work environment personal. Stay focused, stay motivated and work the way you want to work!

Any message to share with female students interested in finance, or with young women starting their career?​

The most important thing in life is to be happy with what you are doing. I would advise students to give finance a try if they are interested and see how it goes. Every work experience will teach you something, so in the end it will always be worth it. For women who are already working in finance, please listen to yourself; you always know best what you want and what makes you happy. Make sure you are in the right place and, if not, please try another area. The financial world always has something for everyone.

Interviewed by: Isabelle Brees