Grant Thornton + First AML


Grant Thornton is one of the world’s leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. They help organisations unlock their growth potential by providing meaningful, forward looking advice.

Proactive teams, led by approachable partners use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions.

Grant Thornton combines service breadth, depth of expertise and industry insight with an approachable “client first” mindset and a broad commercial perspective.

The situation

Accountants and bookkeepers are required under the AML/CFT Act to help countries meet international standards and protect their reputation as a good place to do business. With this imminent change coming into effect in New Zealand in 2018, Grant Thornton decided to proactively implement an AML/CFT programme.

“The Grant Thornton compliance team analysed what stage two meant for them and decided that a wholesale change would be necessary in order to comply,” explains Chris Caigou, First AML’s co-founder and Head of Client Success. “This wholesale change meant increased headcount, bolstered cyber security to enable proper personal data storage as well as a raft of new processes for tasks such as PEP checks,” continues Chris.

Lisle Clements, Money Laundering Reporting Officer, Grant Thornton explains further, “In terms of pain points for completing customer due diligence, none of our customers loved it. [In their eyes] it’s a compliance exercise. But mostly, we found it was a bugbear with our international clients who could be a little surprised that accountants are asking them for that information.”

Underpinning all of this was their “approachable, client first” ethos. Whatever they chose had to support this core tenet too.

Before conducting CDD I try to think of it from our customer’s point of view. What I like about First AML is that their process makes it easy and painless for our customers.”

Lisle Clements, Money Laundering Reporting Officer, Grant Thornton.

The solution

Based on that assessment they went to market for an outsourced solution that removed the administrative burden, allowed them to retain ultimate risk decision making and delivered a great customer experience.

First AML was chosen. This was in part due to the founders’ deep experience in AML/CFT. Chris explains, “Grant Thornton could see that because we had been doing AML/CFT since 2013 we understood the intricacies and problems, but also the best solutions.”

The entire CDD/CFT process is outsourced to First AML. Once Grant Thornton submits a case (name and email) the First AML team takes care of the rest:

  • Document validation
  • Ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) identification including:
    • Shareholding structure
    • Relative shareholder weighting
    • UBO ID for every individual associated to each entity
  • Biometrics
  • Local analysis including:
    • Manual interventions for end user support
    • Engaging with compliance officer to raise flags and streamline exceptions
    • Continual re engagement with UBOs and associated individuals until verification is complete
  • PEP and sanctions flagging
  • Compliance liaison and debrief for potentially high risk cases.
“I like that First AML are continuing to develop the online portal (software platform) and that our clients don’t have to redo CDD because First AML are able to draw on the [350,000+ entity] database.”

Lisle Clements, Money Laundering Reporting Officer, Grant Thornton.

The results

Lisle explains it best, “Before conducting CDD I try to think of it from our customer’s point of view. What I like about First AML is that their process makes it easy and painless for our customers.

Having outsourced this to First AML it’s a lot tidier, a lot cleaner and a lot easier. I also appreciate their data management and security services because a lot of our clients find security very important."

About First AML

First AML simplifies the entire anti-money laundering onboarding and compliance process. Its SaaS platform, Source, stands out as a leading solution for organisations with complex or international onboarding needs. It provides streamlined collaboration and ensures uniformity in all AML practices.

First AML transforms an otherwise complex and manual process into one that is simple, cost-effective, and compliant for businesses. By delivering efficiency and time savings, it protects reputations and enables companies to stay on the right side of history in the face of global threats.

Keen to find out more? Book a demo today! No time for a long demo? No problem. See what Source by First AML can do for your business in 2 minutes – watch the short demo here.