Setting the Scene

The context and principles of Lean were presented to the Partners and Directors of the firm. Thereafter it was agreed to engage with St Andrews Lean to look at a process used by the entire firm – Anti-Money Laundering procedures, with an aim to reduce process waste, reduce cost, and to improve the service the organisation provides to its clients.

To provide all new clients with an exemplary on-boarding experience, whilst at the same time meeting legislative obligations.

The scope was to review the entire client on-boarding process, from the initial contact with a new client through to transaction completion. This process covered the collection of AML documentation, recording client details in systems, carrying out the electronic ID verification process, processing of results, and the on-going risk-assessment of clients during the course of a transaction.

Expected Deliverables
New AML process
Clear roles and responsibilities
Training plan
Communications plan

The team comprised of 3 Partners, the Chief Operating Officer, and 7 members of staff, all representing each legal department and the support teams involved with the AML administrative process, from across the organisation’s estates.


What Happened?

Day 1
The team discussed the Objectives, Scope and Expected Deliverables for the three day Rapid Improvement Event. Thereafter the team visually mapped out the current AML process (“Current State”) and at the same time each member of the team was asked to write down any areas for improvement or new ideas that they had on post-its. “No idea was a bad idea”.

These comments/ideas were then posted on the walls around the room under the following headings: Communication, Regulation/Compliance, IT, Staffing, Forms, and Miscellaneous.


Waste marking the current process


Day 2
Each member of the team took time to read through each of the ideas and made a note of any negative comments which were then placed on the wall next to the corresponding idea. The same process was then followed for adding positive comments to the ideas.

After some discussion around these comments the team then mapped out what the ‘Ideal Future State’ might look like. During the process it was established that the organisation was not in a position to get to the “Ideal Future State” at the moment, and they would need to take steps to work towards this. The team therefore began to map out an ‘Interim Future State’, noting things that needed to be changed and which were achievable within the next few months. Advice from the Director of IT was taken on the system improvements/alterations that would be required for the new process.

A video call with the Money Laundering Reporting Officer was arranged for the end of the day to discuss progress and to take note of any comments or parts of the process that he wanted to remain in place to ensure compliance with the regulatory requirements.


Negative and positive comments on ideas


Day 3
Taking into account the comments from the MLRO, the team discussed the mapping of the new ‘Interim Future State’ that had been created and made amendments to this as necessary.

At the end of the day, colleagues (Partners, Executive Board and Operations Board) were invited to join the group for an overview of the three days. The Team gave a short presentation describing the RIE and what they had been working on. The Interim Future State and Ideal Future State were available for colleagues to view and discuss after the presentation.


Thorntons presenting to SMG



The realisation that there were a number of wastes in the current AML process, and the creation of an action plan identifying the steps that require to be taken to improve the client on-boarding process. Responsibility for each action point has been assigned to a member of the team with a time-frame for completion.

In addition, a training plan was created to ensure changes are communicated effectively to all staff prior to implementation.

An excellent team building exercise, which allowed colleagues from different departments who do not normally work together to meet and exchange their views on the topic.

Expected Benefits
Accurate client data capturing process
Seamless client on-boarding process compliant with regulatory requirements.
Improved client service
Simplified administrative process for our colleagues



Favourite Day / Section / Activity
It was an interesting 3 days and all very positive.
There was a great willingness of the group to share information and get involved.
The process mapping post-its worked very well.
Excellent support from St Andrews Lean’s team, Mark & Rob.

Thoughts on Lean
It is a thought provoking, logical, and informative process.

Any Other Comments?
Hugely worthwhile
Confident we can make it happen
Enjoyable experience
Well organised
It was an interesting three days and all very positive
We now have 11 colleagues thinking and being Lean