St Mary's School Ascot is a Roman Catholic independent day and boarding school for girls in Ascot, Berkshire, England. It is a former Public School of the Year at the annual Tatler Schools Awards. The school has around 390 girls aged 11-18.
Reputation is everything for independent schools. Protecting the school’s long history, and ensuring its legacy, is a critical concern for its staff. Recent headlines have shown that while the education sector does not come within the scope of the UK’s money laundering regulations, they can still be vulnerable to money laundering attempts. These may include donations towards school projects, unsolicited donations, advance payment of fees, or requested return of fees paid in advance.
Alive to this risk, the bursar of St Mary’s, Giles Brand was seeking a way to verify school fees in order to ensure they were coming from legitimate sources. School fees can run up to £50,000 per year.
Previously, Giles had been using manual methods to process these AML checks. He began looking for a solution that would streamline the pupil onboarding process while conducting AML in an efficient and friendly manner.
“Our processes were simply not equipped for the due diligence that was required for some of the more complicated cases”.
“As a boarding school we attract pupils from across the UK and from overseas”, says Giles. “Our processes were simply not equipped for the due diligence that was required for some of the more complicated cases”.
“It was important to us to have a good process in place that can handle the fee payers”, says Giles. With First AML, it allows him to parcel off the task of collecting the necessary documentation to a platform, while maintaining the relationship with the fee payers and attending to other matters in his role as bursar.
“It’s a good division of tasks”, says Giles. “We can be friendly and welcoming, while the First AML platform automates the administrative tasks and the document-chasing.”
Now when it comes time to enrol pupils at St Mary’s, Giles’s assistant at St Mary’s handles the day-to-day processing of the case on the First AML platform, while Giles now only needs to deal with any escalated cases where unusual information is surfaced that needs to be attended to.
The First AML platform is now an important part of the school’s onboarding process for their pupils and Giles has gone on to refer two more schools to First AML.
Using the platform, once the names and email addresses of the parents or guardians of the prospective pupils have been submitted, their name is screened through global sanctions lists and PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) for red flags, as well as uncovering the beneficial owners for any trusts or other entities that are involved in the money trail.
“I appreciate that the communications sent automatically on behalf of the school reflect our tone and brand”, says Giles. “It means that while First AML collects all the necessary information discreetly and efficiently, they do so while looking like an extension of our administrative team at St Mary’s.”
“I can sleep at night knowing that we’re doing the correct checks, and that nothing has been missed.”
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.