Vital4: Using Machine Learning to Provide True Contextualized Data in Adverse Media

Kristin L. Stafford
Founder & CEO

Vital4 is determined to make due diligence smart, light touch, automated and more powerful than anything else out there. They are committed to harnessing technology to drive costs down and deliver unsurpassed results —results that let anyone concerned about compliance sleep better at night.

Vital4 is a woman-owned and operated technology company located in Atlanta, Georgia founded by Kristin Stafford, Amy Barbieri, and a very talented group of partners that have expertise in global compliance and international background screening. We built the company because we saw a need to provide better, cleaner and more timely data to companies that were subject to major regulatory requirements. We have built a cloud software application that enables a global data search solution that supports Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer compliance global screening and monitoring. Bottom line is we offer a critical component of the solution that is required to fight financial crime, and mitigate fraud, bribery, and corruption. Vital4’s data is used to onboard the bank’s customers for the KYC process, transaction monitoring and enhanced due diligence. We can also screen and monitor employees and 3rd party relationships against thousands of global financial sanctions, watch lists, politically exposed persons (PEP) and tens of thousands of news and media sources around the world. Vital4 delivers detailed data on individuals and businesses across the globe, enabling subscribers to perform single, streamlined due diligence. Vital4 has made huge advancements in our data solutions through new and innovative technology. One of the most critical items that our data scientists have recently developed is our own proprietary sentiment analysis that applies specifically to our Adverse Media solution. Through AI and ML, our system can read millions of articles to determine if there is negative context in relation to the person or entity our customer is screening. Old school negative keyword search delivers articles that waste the time of the analysts that are sorting through them. He “killed” the ball in an article would return without the application of sentiment analysis, causing a tremendous number of false positives. Our legacy competitors struggle implementing this technology due to their old and outdated systems. The few providers that have implemented sentiment analysis are using third party providers due to those limitations. The outof-the-box/plug-in technology solutions for this are not far enough along or advanced enough to reduce the unwanted noise that our customers demand – we found they were only effective 15- 20 % of the time in detecting false positives.

Vital4 wanted to solve the problem for our customers so we took it upon ourselves to develop something better, and something that would make a significant impact. The results are 50% + false positive reductions. We are the first in the world to deploy this proprietary technology to the market and we are making a significant impact on the way the industry and our customers approach due diligence. Kristin Stafford, Co-Founder and CEO of Vital4 stated, “Everyone that has used an Adverse Media tool has had similar experiences and challenges and the #1 problem is false positives. The mounds of information that users must weed through is never ending and they feel like they are looking for a needle in a haystack. We have been laser-focused on solving this problem for the industry.” This insight led us to present our solutions to FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) for the “Innovation Office Hours” program in 2021. The purpose is to address how our products or services, or innovative use of existing tools, can enhance financial institutions’ BSA/ AML compliance programs, including, for example, aspects of involving risk identification, transaction monitoring, and suspicious activity reporting, or otherwise improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the AML/CFT framework to make more valuable information available to law enforcement to better protect the U.S. financial system. FinCEN uses the information that they gather on new technology and innovations in the industry in order to make recommendations around new innovations to help improve the outcomes when it comes to fighting financial crime. Vital4’s Co-Founder, President and Chief Growth Officer, Amy Barbieri, said “At Vital4 we wake up every day thinking about how we can create solutions to solve our customer’s biggest problems and how can we do it with technology. We realized that out-of-the-box solutions for sentiment analysis just haven’t evolved enough to make an impact to justify the time and expense – we didn’t want to just put a band aid on the problem, we wanted to truly solve it. So, we took a different approach and built the first of its kind proprietary sentiment analysis that reduces false positives by 50% +. This eliminates articles that truly don’t belong in our database as adverse articles.”

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