Offering a Risk Based Approach framework for AML/KYC

Cascade Lab S.A. was created to offer solutions to companies that were struggling to cope with the onerous regulatory requirements relating to Know Your Customer and anti-money laundering. Founder and managing partner Declan O’Hannrachain explains how the company’s services have evolved since then.

Picture: Declan O’Hannrachain, Founder and managing partner, Cascade Lab S.A.

  • For those who don’t know your company, can you provide some background?

Cascade Lab was founded in 2019 in Luxembourg by three professionals of the financial sector, who had been senior managers at a management company providing services to investment funds and other corporate entities.

Regulatory requirements had exploded and using Excel spreadsheets and a stand-alone name-screening tool were no longer sufficient to provide a proper overview of the clients and counterparties – particularly with a view to identifying where we stood with each client file from an AML/KYC perspective.

Having scoured the market for a solution that would provide flexible database organisation while covering the AML/KYC needs and coming up short, we said: “How hard is it to do this ourselves…”

Little did we appreciate the difficulty of translating the ideas in our heads to paper and the pleasures of working with programmers…

Many grey hairs later, we launched Version 1 of Cascade in March 2020 (another decision that presented new challenges…) which fulfilled our key objectives: offering an affordable platform that would enable our clients to digitalise and structure their client and counterparty data, coming with an embedded customisable Risk Based Approach framework for their AML/KYC needs.

  • Can you share a little-known fact about your company?

Having spoken to hundreds of players in the market, we have a good overview of the financial sector and their AML/KYC failings: the overuse of Excels where people accidently delete cells randomly; where the same name appears across multiple workbooks with different addresses or other personal details; the struggle to reconcile what is missing from what client file; missing the expiry dates of passports or other ID documents; the lack of automated reminders to review client files depending on their risk levels….

  • What are you currently working on and what are your company’s plans and strategic priorities for the coming years?

Our highest priority is to finalise a digital communication module that will allow the clients of our clients to provide their details and supporting AML/KYC documents in electronic form, which will then feed the Cascade platform once validated. This will greatly simplify the onboarding of any new client or counterparty. Cascade will then cover the full lifecycle of a client.

We are also working on allowing our clients to use Microsoft Azure for hosting purposes thus delivering a full SaaS version of the platform.

  • Are there any projects/achievements of your company that you are exceptionally proud of?

Although we started off with the aim of servicing the Luxembourg SME market, the platform we developed, due to its customisability, already has over 75 clients and users in 24 countries. Further, we have also attracted much larger clients than expected, including a US-based asset manager with AuM of over $460 billion!

It would appear the problems we believed were principally faced by local SMEs are actually global and impact the biggest players too.

  • What in your opinion makes Malta an effective jurisdiction to set up a business?

The Maltese market is very interesting to us as it is not dissimilar to that of Luxembourg. Lots of players in, and related to, the financial sector, offering services to third parties. Maltese entities additionally have a regulatory obligation to conduct a proper Risk Based Approach on their clients and counterparties, all of which can be captured in Cascade.

We have also found the Maltese business sector to be most welcoming and open. It has been a pleasure for us to start doing business there! Though the (hot) weather is a bit of a challenge for us northern Europeans…

  • What kind of people/companies in the financial services community would you want to connect with?

We would be delighted to talk to any entity that takes their AML/KYC obligations seriously. That Cascade has a customisable Risk Based Approach means it is usable by AIFMs, CSPs, administrators, law firms and more.


Declan O’hAnnrachain is founder and managing partner of Cascade Lab S.A., a Luxembourg FinTech offering an administration, compliance and governance platform. He is also the director of a Luxembourg-domiciled real estate fund.

Declan has over 25 years’ experience in the Luxembourg financial sector. He has extensive TA and Fund Accounting experience and has been an MLRO / RC since 2002. Much of this experience is reflected in the Cascade platform. He has also used his extensive fund industry knowledge to develop and deliver training programmes and seminars for both national and international entities, including financial regulators in both Asia and Africa.