Vendor Due Diligence: What It Is and Why It Matters


In an increasingly interconnected and globalized business environment, companies must navigate a complex web of relationships with vendors, suppliers, and partners. Ensuring the integrity of these relationships is crucial for mitigating risks and maintaining regulatory compliance, including compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime regulations.


Vendor due diligence (VDD) is a systematic process of evidence-gathering and assessment that helps businesses evaluate potential partners and acquisition targets. VDD provides valuable insights into a prospective partner’s practices and compliance status, particularly in regard to financial, legal, operational, regulatory, and reputational characteristics that may impact the value or outcome of a business deal.




Why Do Businesses Carry Out Vendor Due Diligence?

Businesses carry out VDD so that they can make informed decisions and mitigate risks that may result from relationships with third parties. Some of the most common reasons for carrying out VDD include:


  • Risk Management: Engaging in business with a non-compliant or fraudulent vendor can result in financial losses, legal issues, and reputational damage.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Various laws and regulations mandate that organizations conduct due diligence on their third-party relationships, particularly in sectors such as finance, healthcare, and defense.
  • Deal Value and Outcome: VDD can uncover hidden liabilities, financial irregularities, or other issues that may impact the value of a potential acquisition or partnership.
  • Trust and Transparency: Building trust is essential for successful business relationships. VDD promotes transparency by providing an objective and thorough assessment of a vendor’s capabilities, performance, and compliance.


Operational Efficiency: VDD helps organizations streamline their vendor selection process by enabling them to quickly identify high-quality partners.




Who Prepares Vendor Due Diligence Reports?

VDD reports are prepared by reputable third-party auditors at the request of the vendor. It’s important to note that the company being partnered with, purchased from, or acquired is responsible for organizing the independent analysis and evaluation and providing the resulting report to buyers and other interested parties. 




The Vendor Due Diligence Process

VDD involves a comprehensive evaluation of various aspects of a potential business partner or acquisition target. While the exact steps vary depending on the industry, deal type, and jurisdiction, a typical VDD process usually consists of the following:


Background Checks

Background checks verify the vendor’s identity, ownership, and management structure, as well as researching their business history and track record. It also involves researching past or ongoing legal disputes, bankruptcy filings, sanctions, and other negative information that could potentially affect the relationship.


Financial Analysis

Financial analysis reviews the vendor’s financial statements, accounting practices, and internal controls. Key information includes profitability, liquidity, solvency, and cash flow, as well as financial risks or anomalies that could impact the deal’s value or performance.


Legal Review

A legal review analyzes the vendor’s contracts, licenses, permits, intellectual property, and litigation history, as well as their compliance with relevant laws and regulations. 


Operational Evaluation

An operational evaluation assesses the vendor’s processes, systems, infrastructure, and personnel to determine their efficiency, effectiveness, and resilience. Depending on the nature of the relationship, it may involve investigating the supply chain, quality management, cybersecurity, and business continuity.


Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance checks verify that the vendor adheres to all applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards, such as anti-money laundering (AML), anti-bribery and corruption, data protection, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) requirements.


Reputational Assessment

A reputational assessment examines the vendor’s reputation, brand, and public image, as well as their relationships with customers, suppliers, regulators, and other stakeholders. 




VDD and AML Compliance

VDD plays a critical role in identifying and mitigating risks associated with anti-money laundering and financial crime. AML-specific VDD steps give businesses confidence that a vendor has appropriate AML policies, procedures, and controls in place to prevent and detect money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities. 


The AML VDD process will typically verify the implementation and effectiveness of a vendor’s:



VDD professionals will also probe the vendor’s history of regulatory examinations, enforcement actions, and any penalties related to AML non-compliance, including reviewing examination reports, settlement agreements, and other regulatory documents to identify areas of concern.


Vendor AML compliance is a priority for money services businesses, banks, exchanges, the FinTech industry, and other fields that operate under strict AML regulations. Partnerships with these businesses depend on the ability to implement and demonstrate effective AML systems and controls. 


Alessa can help your business implement effective AML compliance processes. Our integrated AML compliance platform offers a comprehensive suite of compliance solutions, including identity verification and KYC, transaction monitoring, watchlist and sanction screening, and regulatory reporting. Speak to an AML compliance expert or book a free demonstration to learn more about how we can help your business reduce AML compliance costs and risks.

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