Gibson Sheat Lawyers, a law firm with over 100 staff, has a rich history of providing practical recommendations to both personal and business clients. The firm offers a range of life and business legal services, taking a vested interest in their clients' success for over 90 years.
When the next phase of the local AML regulations was introduced to the legal sector on 1 July 2018, Gibson Sheat, like many other companies, initially tried to manage compliance in-house. Melissa Pauling, Business Improvements and Innovation Manager at Gibson Sheat, explains, "We completed all aspects of AML ourselves, using our practice management software to store the information."
However, within the first year, the firm realised the time-consuming nature of meeting AML obligations and sought ways to streamline the process. Pauling emphasises, "The amount of time our staff were spending on completing AML was horrific, and the cost was largely being absorbed by Gibson Sheat."
“The amount of time our staff were having to spend completing AML was horrific. The cost of which was largely being absorbed by Gibson Sheat.”
- Melissa Pauling, Business Improvements and Innovation Manager,
Gibson Sheat Lawyers
The Search for a Solution
This realisation prompted Gibson Sheat to search for an efficient AML/CDD solution that would not only reduce staff workload but also ensure consistent processes across offices and simplify the process for clients. "We didn’t just want an ID check solution," notes Pauling, "we wanted something that would reduce the burden on staff, have an upfront cost that can be recovered, and make it easier for our clients to do their part when it was convenient for them."
Rhys Williams, Partner and AML Compliance Officer, and Melissa Pauling conducted a thorough evaluation process, shortlisting potential solutions. "We had looked at a few different AML solutions by the time our CEO saw First AML and recommended we have a look. It seemed like a great fit," says Pauling.
In 2020, Gibson Sheat adopted the First AML solution. As part of their ongoing improvement strategy, they reviewed their AML process in late 2022, revealing impressive results: "For the year ended 2022, we recovered 89% of the cost of First AML - a huge improvement. The 11% we didn't recover was largely due to internal decisions around billing."
The primary objective of reducing staff workload was achieved, as Pauling explains, "We saw a significant decrease in the time spent by staff on completing CDD, estimating between 50-80% less time, which is a huge win when you have a partner doing CDD with a charge-out rate over $400/hour."
“We estimated between 50-80% less time was spent by staff on completing CDD and when you have a partner doing CDD with a charge out rate over $400/hour it's a huge win.”
The user-friendly nature and improved client experience were also notable benefits. "Overall, it’s really easy. Clients just click on a link and complete the process," says Pauling.
Additionally, Gibson Sheat found value in the reusable verifications for entities held within the First AML ecosystem, meaning that clients who have already completed CDD with First AML don't need to repeat the process, a real benefit for mutual clients with real estate agents also using First AML.
"Overall, it’s really easy. Clients just click on a link and complete the process."