Benjamin Collette and Bastien Collette (Palana): AML/CTF at the heart of asset management and asset servicing
One year after its creation, Palana already has some forty employees specializing in AML/CTF and the fight against financial crime in all its forms. Interview.
Can you describe Palana in a few words?
Our group consists of two entities: Palana and Palana Services. The first specializes in advising asset managers and asset servicers in all asset classes, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, including alternative investments. With long standing expertise in AML/CTF, we began our activities by focusing on this segment where demand is extremely strong. We are now adding additional topics, all along the value chain of our clients: regulatory, strategy, operational efficiency, distribution support, and so on. We serve clients in the Grand Duchy, France, Switzerland, and the UK from Luxembourg. Our clear objective is to be the reference in AML/CTF, in terms of expertise, quality and responsiveness. The second entity, Palana Services, offers managed services to asset managers and asset servicers. Together with our partner, Avanterra, we have the knowledge and technology to handle highly complex but satellite tasks such as regulatory reporting, fund registration, distribution, or taxation. Our collaboration allows our clients not only to share the often-prohibitive costs in this area but also to focus on their core business. In short, we offer expertise, state-of-the-art technology, administrative support, and high-quality operational assistance.
"In short, we offer expertise, administrative support, and operational assistance."
What impact do the AML/CTF and the fight against financial crime have on asset managers and asset servicers?
Government and public demands for transparency and fairness - including tax fairness - have put AML/CTF at the heart of our clients' models. In a few years, the industry moved from simply collecting identity cards to a highly expert and risk-based approach involving holistic analysis of files, constant monitoring of legislation, creation of internal policies and procedures, and controls at all levels. Only a team of specialists can cope with such obligations. The companies we serve want to adapt to this evolution to better serve their clients and protect their reputation in an era of "name and shame." Luxembourg has taken advantage of its ecosystem of financial experts and international clients to establish itself as a jurisdiction at the forefront of complexity and compliance with AML/CTF rules. In private equity, for example, most companies choose the Grand Duchy to set up new funds.
"A competent and well-equipped AML officer eliminates unnecessary blockages.”
How can companies prevent risks related to these issues?
You can compare prevention in the field of AML/CTF to prevention in your health: Every euro invested generally saves two euros. And three or four times more when remedial measures are necessary. For us, it all starts with training. When employees have a good understanding of the law, their clients, and tax rules, the number of interactions at the beginning of the KYC process decreases dramatically. Cases that are blocked are too often due to a lack of understanding of the case or the legislation. And in a broader sense, a competent and well-equipped AML officer eliminates unnecessary delays or blockages: It facilitates the growth of one's business. As an example, many investor accounts are blocked or slowed down by transfer agents due to a lack of knowledge of the home country's legislation or the client's structure, resulting in lost opportunities. A well-done KYC is a clear business advantage. Palana not only offers training, and an AML/CTF hotline to ensure our clients' responsiveness, but also provides experts to assist them. And with our managed services, we allow them to focus on high-value-added tasks and operational controls, as required by the regulator.