Firmcheck launches into the AML software marketby
A new anti-money laundering management tool backed by Xero co-founder Hamish Edwards has debuted in the UK, promising to revolutionise the way accounting firms manage AML compliance across the client lifecycle.
Designed specifically for accounting firms, Firmcheck aims to streamline anti-money laundering (AML) processes, allowing firms to remain compliant in an ever-changing, rapidly expanding area of legislation.
The SaaS tool is backed by investor and executive chairman Hamish Edwards, who co-founded cloud accounting giant Xero, and Firmcheck recently appointed former Chaser and FreeAgent head of sales Kevin Lord as its UK general manager.
Available today for UK accountants, Firmcheck offers AML checks including ID, address and biometric verification, and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and sanctions checks.
The tools’s existing Companies House connection means accounting firm users can pull entity and individual details as they need them whilst carrying out AML clearance.
Clients can verify their ID and address via a web app on their mobile, including live selfie ID. The findings are then delivered in a report to Firmcheck along with the evidence that was provided by the client, including PEP and Sanctions reports.
All existing clients are shown in Firmcheck’s client workspace (shown below), with their next due check displayed. The existing client AML workflow brings all elements that need reviewing or updating for existing clients in one place – repeat ID checks, risk assessment questions, risk levels, determinations and approvals.
Accounting firms can assign each Firmcheck user an access level, allowing a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) to have control over who is approving and collaborating on AML checks. This includes restricting access to certain data and only allowing certain users to be approvers.
As part of their new and existing client AML workflow, firms can also use Firmcheck’s pre-set risk assessment options or configure the questions to ensure they match their governing bodies' requirements.
While Firmcheck is a standalone AML management tool, in future the company hopes to integrate into a variety of existing tools used by accounting firms such as practice management or CRM systems, in order to cut down on the duplication of data entry.
The Firmcheck AML management system is available for a subscription price of £3 per entity per year. The checks themselves are available on a pay-as-you-go basis. Full biometric and ID verifications are available on Firmcheck at £5.50 per check, while basic PEP and sanctions checks are free for firms with more than 100 entities in Firmcheck – otherwise they cost 50p per check. For full pricing details visit the Firmcheck pricing page.
Speed up the complex and time-consuming AML process
Speaking to AccountingWEB from his home in New Zealand, Firmcheck executive chairman Hamish Edwards outlined some of the reasons for bringing the tool to the UK.
Following his time in various board positions at Xero, chartered accountant Edwards became involved in building and guiding Connectworks, a New Zealand-based vendor that offers a broad range of services including onboarding and workflow, trust and company filings and, most pertinently for the UK, AML services.
Looking to expand Connectworks into the UK, the team found that UK accountants were particularly interested in tools to help speed up the complex and time-consuming AML process, and the idea took hold.
“We heard from countless accountants about the pains of managing AML in relation to their clients, “said Edwards. “That's when we knew there was a need for an AML management system like Firmcheck.
“We’ve set out to turn AML from a necessary evil into something that not only satisfies your body’s obligations but also adds value to your firm,” he continued, “If we can save a small firm an hour a week, five hours a month, this makes a material difference and means they can head up the chain and do more for their clients.”
Edwards also emphasised the importance of continued AML education in a field that has rapidly expanded over the past few years. “When we first launched Xero, education was a huge part of what we did,” he said. Firmcheck has online classes available produced by AML experts, starting with an introduction to the basic concepts of AML and the regulatory compliance regime in the UK.
To take a tour of how to run AML checks using Firmcheck visit the vendor’s product tour page.