Bion Behdin, Chief Revenue Officer and Co-founder at First AML
From corporate banking to focusing on a compliance pain point that used to infuriate his customers, Bion and the team at First AML have achieved a lot in a short space of time. Having interacted with a range of employees at First AML, it is clear Bion and his Co-founders have fostered a strong culture that rewards hard work, regardless of your age. Thanks for sharing Bion.
How would you explain to a five year old what it is that you do?
We take away the pain from Anti-Money Laundering (AML) onboarding, reducing the barriers to investing, selling your home, and engaging professional service firms.
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
First AML turns compliance into a competitive advantage. If you can onboard your customers faster, easier and better than the competition, you’re going to build more meaningful relationships with your customers.
“..my earliest memories were about loading up flash games early in the morning before having to disconnect from the internet so my mum could use the phone!
Was building a tech company something you dreamed about doing as a kid? If not, what was?
Not at all! When I was a kid, tech was in its infancy, dial-up had just changed the world, and my earliest memories were about loading up flash games early in the morning before having to disconnect from the internet so my mum could use the phone!
However in saying that, I have always had fascination with business and entrepreneurship. The ability to move fast, make decisions and drive real and meaningful change was always something I wanted to do (even subconsciously).
As for what I wanted to do as a kid.. originally I wanted to be a food taste tester (I don't even think that’s a real thing!).
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and what inspired you to start First AML?
I’ve spent the majority of my career in Corporate and Commercial Banking as a Frontline Relationship Manager. It was there that I observed first hand the problem of AML and Customer onboarding, how the process would frustrate the customer, and myself.
This is what inspired me to start First AML. Whilst we are a Regtech business, and compliance is paramount.
We also spend a lot of time on the customer experience, how our customers, and their clients interact with the onboarding process is very important to us. We want everyone to have the best possible experience using First AML.
“My parents have been my greatest role models, as first generation immigrants into New Zealand they worked so hard to create a life for me and my Brother. ”
Who have been your greatest role models and what have you learnt from them?
My parents have been my greatest role models, as first generation immigrants into New Zealand they worked so hard to create a life for me and my Brother.
They always taught me that no matter what I was doing, to take pride in what I did and always give it 100%. Dad used to work at a supermarket when I was growing up, and he would always work hard and give it his all.
Mum started as an accounts assistant and worked her way up to becoming an exec at a large power company. Taking pride in what you do is a core value of mine, and I carry that with me to this day.
Where do you hope First AML will be in five years from now?
We’re aiming to be one of the largest onboarding companies in the world. We’re expanding at an incredible pace, solving a genuine problem in a very unique way.
“To put this in a bit of context, when I was twenty four, going to visit a client as a young Banker, for two years I wasn’t allowed to speak in meetings, just take notes.”
How does First AML build and develop talent and elevate people to be their best?
We’re really focussed on developing our staff here at First AML.
Growing at such a rapid pace means there are always new opportunities and challenges for people to pick up and as a founder if you are unable to delegate effectively you quickly become overwhelmed.
Trusting your staff to execute and watching them develop under this sort of pressure is truly amazing.
To put this in a bit of context, when I was twenty four, going to visit a client as a young Banker, for two years I wasn’t allowed to speak in meetings, just take notes. We’ve got a twenty three year old running a team of sixteen here at First AML and absolutely killing it.
What does culture mean to you and how do you ensure this culture is maintained with everyone at the First AML?
Culture is everything for a young company, the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is so true. Without a good scalable culture you cannot execute on the best of ideas.
Culture for us at First AML is driven through our core values. We have a set of values here at First AML which everyone lives by.
This isn’t just lip service, but core to our workplace. Incentives and staff development is linked to these values, and it drives a lot of what we do here, which in turns drives a positive work culture.
Lastly, as First AML continues to evolve, what kind of talent do you want to hear from in the coming months?
We’re growing at a rapid pace and need skilled people in all different departments. What we look for is curious people, with strong work ethic and a passion for what they do.