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WestLB Benefits from Vendor Collaboration for Data Management and KYC Efforts, Says Feast

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German bank WestLB has benefited from the collaboration of all of the vendors involved in its know your customer (KYC) driven data management project, according to Sarah Feast, executive director of operations control for the bank. The bank took the decision to centralise its customer data in its Dusseldorf operations back in 2006 and has been working with vendor partners SAP, GoldTier and Avox to cope with the necessary operational and structural changes.

The data management journey is similar to that being embarked upon by the Royal Bank of Canada in the space of customer data, but WestLB is much further down the road, explains Feast. The German bank has also been forced to cope with what Feast calls the “unique challenges” of the German market and legislation, including those relating to staffing and human resources.

The decision to rationalise and centralise the firm’s customer data from two sites, in London and Dusseldorf, to the Dusseldorf operations was driven by a need to meet the requirements of the Third European Union Directive on Money Laundering. A more risk-based approach to customer data was required by the resulting German regulation, explains Feast.

“We needed to find an automated system to deal with the processing of our 10,000 low risk clients’ data in order to free our team to deal with the high risk clients,” she elaborates. The goal was also to enhance existing client services and streamline new account opening by centralising key onboarding and compliance operations, and embedding controls within these operations.

To this end, WestLB signed on the dotted line for GoldTier’s client onboarding and KYC system back in November 2006 and the system was deployed across both its London and Dusseldorf operations by June 2007. The first port of call in terms of integration was to introduce an interface between the firm’s enterprise platform provided by SAP and GoldTier’s system, says Feast.

GoldTier was therefore being used across multiple legal entities of WestLB’s institutional business for managing the onboarding of new clients, from the inception of requests in the front office through the KYC due diligence and account setup in the back office. It was tailored to accommodate the distinct policies of WestLB’s businesses while sharing client data and documentation across the platform.

The firm also approached Avox for its customer data cleansing and processing capabilities in order for the vendor to use the existing structure to deal with the existing legal entity data and enable the relevant KYC checks to meet UK and German compliance requirements. Rather than enabling headcount reduction, it was also a case of headcount relief for the KYC team to focus on the high risk category of customer data, says Feast.

“One of the benefits of the SAP system was also our use of the scanning tool for all the relevant documents, which allowed us to go paperless and instead hold virtual client files,” she adds.

Should WestLB be merged with Germany’s other state-backed landesbanks such as LBBW or BayernLB in the near future (which has been rumoured for some time), then the firm should also be in good shape to take on board another bank’s customer data. Feast is positive that the processing capabilities of the combined vendor solution approach will allow the firm to take on new data relatively quickly and smoothly.

On the instrument side of the coin, WestLB has deployed EDM vendor Asset Control’s AC Plus solution to consolidate and manage its instrument reference data. The firm went live on the solution back in November 2008.

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