Founded in 2005, Blackbird is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading VC firms, renowned for investing in leading edge technology “from software to space”. They also happen to be one of First AML’s key investors.
With the introduction of the AML/CTF Act in 2006, Blackbird quickly embedded compliance basics into business as usual. However, over time, as Blackbird’s business developed and grew, they shifted their focus towards customer experience, business productivity gains, and developing a culture of compliance. It was at this point they made the decision to look for external, more robust, AML KYC options.
Compliance is a necessity. AML regulations protect society from abhorrent crimes and ensure everyday citizens are not locked out of the financial market, including property. But it also requires companies to keep highly sensitive personal information safe while conducting their due diligence.
All of this is not to say it isn’t a burden; it takes a sustained and coordinated effort. One that requires the creation of a compliance-first culture, a security mindset and a moral ethos. An approach that Blackbird knows too well, thanks to their top down approach to promoting and fostering a culture where compliance wins are equally recognised.
“We obviously want to celebrate great investments and other successes in our team, but equally we want to celebrate things that are lesser known and understood and appreciated. Being compliant with every element - AML and CTF being only two of them - takes a lot of effort and time and something that's underneath the surface. I think the partners do a good job of promoting that when we do it really well - showcasing it to the team just as other parts of the team would celebrate their wins.”
“Being compliant with every element - AML and CTF being only two of them - takes a lot of effort and time and it’s something that's underneath the surface. ”
- Dan Danilov, Operations Manager, Blackbird
In the early days, Blackbird did much of their AML work internally, using predominantly manual systems. Given Blackbird had big growth plans they knew that a manual compliance process would slow their ability to raise capital and go live quickly. It was with this context in mind they went to market for a better option.
Not long after signing on with First AML the solution proved its worth. Dan explains, “We had a big fund with about 200 investors, and we had to run a full AML check on every single one of them. Without having implemented the process and relationship with First AML it would have been a disaster trying to navigate all of those internally, potentially having to hire a full time employee or two just to focus on the AML compliance for one fund.”
After implementing First AML, Blackbird saw immediate results in three key areas; better quality outcomes, superior customer experience and improved team productivity.
Better quality outcomes
“First AML saves time and, as a result, frees up capacity, which is awesome. But it’s also great to have another opinion or perspective on those trickier compliance issues - such as when our legal counsel and I are trying to make a judgement call on which documents we may need and what we can accept, and whether we can make an exception. It’s so helpful to have the AML specialists there for an added perspective.”
“Even though as a firm we have a high tolerance for risk, the one place we don't is compliance.”
Dan Danilov, Operations Manager, Blackbird.
Superior customer experience
“You’ll never have an investor who’s happy to do AML - it’s not the most exciting thing for them to do. That being said, we’ve received some great feedback from someone who went through our AML process in 2019, started their own fund and now uses First AML too. It’s nice to see the full circle - they loved the experience and have now signed up as a customer,” says Dan Danilov, Blackbird Operations Manager
Improved team productivity
“Internally it’s been super positive too; having all our cases in a dashboard to be able to track them, and have notes and documents available in one place for our team is great. And the help, support and responsiveness from the First AML specialist team on any issues has been great.”
Dan says not a lot keeps him up at night these days. “We’ve set up a lot of processes pretty robustly and put checks in place. We’ve matured as a team and organisation as well so that we don't need to be kept up at night by anything. We’re in a pretty good place where we don't need to constantly stress about something going wrong.”
About First AML
First AML is an AML technology provider, and the maker of Source, an all-in-one AML platform. Source powers thousands of compliance experts around the globe to reduce the time and cost burden of complex and international entity KYC. Its enterprise-wide, long term approach to the KYC / CDD data lifecycle addresses time and cost challenges while minimising compliance, reputational and security risks.