Founded in 1998, Headline’s track record as a venture capital firm goes back 25+ years. Combining strong on-the-ground local networks with proprietary technology, they have become one of the world’s leading VCs with offices across the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Global Operations, Global Challenges
Operating across several jurisdictions, Headline’s AML considerations must balance the complexity of streamlining at a global level but remain compliant locally. Headline’s European funds have a compliance team of four, comprising compliance, regulatory, and in-house counsel.
“Keeping track of the latest AML requirements across each country is not easy,” says Karim Ouazzani Hassani, Compliance & Regulation Manager at Headline. “The AMLD (Anti-Money Laundering Directives), need to be translated into national laws, which takes time, and end up getting specificities in each EU country we operate in.”
“So we adapt, and we adapt again," says Karim.
Having heard about First AML through Australian VC firm Blackbird, Headline investors Yusuf Janahi and Michael Kent reached out to First AML. Headline approached the topic as both a potential investor and a potential customer.
In 2021, after undertaking a thorough global competitor analysis, Headline made the decision to invest in the company, co-leading First AML’s Series B.
At that stage, First AML had not yet entered the European market, meaning that although Headline backed the company as an investor, it wouldn’t yet become a customer.
The search for a solution
The AML use case for a VC is complex and unlike other verticals. “We’ve got a running gag amongst the compliance officers I know who work in VC," says Karim. “The first compliance officer that finds the perfect software has to phone the others.”
Their original onboarding process for their portfolio companies was a manual, time-intensive process. “It was not very efficient," recalls Karim.
“We had Word docs that could prove challenging to fill in properly and maintain. To ensure compliance, we had three different questionnaires with annexes - explaining what a PEP (Politically Exposed Person) was, explaining what a UBO (Ultimate Beneficial Owner) was, and we were asking for copies of passports and certified structured charts for entities separately - it was confusing at times and it increased the likelihood of mistakes.
“We also had to video call people just to EIV (electronically identify and verify) them. It was taking up a whole lot of our time.”
When First AML launched in Europe in 2022, Headline came on board as a customer.
“First AML has a great platform to manage AML processes and offers amazing service,” says Viktor Gorlow, Legal Counsel at Headline.
“It’s all in one place, with good reporting, and it’s also easy for auditors to access," adds Karim. “It reduces the internal admin and works for our Europe team, and it helps improve the user experience for our other portfolio companies when we bring them on board.”
“We’ve recommended another European VC firm, Cavalry Ventures, who has since become a customer of First AML as well," says Karim.
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.