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4 Areas Where Chief Compliance Officers Can Make an Impact

 
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

As the chief compliance officer in your organization, you have the opportunity to take your team from contributors to leaders. It’s all in the way you choose to approach your role and the way you position your team within the organization.  

We’ve outlined four key areas where a chief compliance can focus to make an impact on their organization. It’s not a “pick one” situation. Instead, the best chief compliance officers will unite several of these areas to make a strong impact on their organization and to position the entire compliance team as a key factor in the organization’s success.  

 If you’re just starting to build your sphere of influence, you might consider choosing one of these spaces and focusing your efforts there, then expanding as your relationships, strategic vision and capabilities expand.  

Business Champion. 

The business champion is a strategic leader. This leader doesn’t look at compliance, not as a stand-alone function or a gatekeeper.  

Instead, they’re constantly scanning the horizon, looking for ways to position compliance as a strategic advantage for the organization. For example, they:  

    • Watch for upcoming regulatory interventions with the potential to disrupt business for the organization or industry. 
    • Educate business partners on key portions of regulatory requirements so they can make decisions with the most practical knowledge possible. 
    • Demand and earn a seat at the leadership table, so compliance is factored into the business decision-making process, not added on as an afterthought once critical choices and commitments have been made.  
    • Provide proactive counsel, guidance, and feedback to ensure business units are aware not only of roadblocks but also of their options and opportunities.  
Relationship builder.  

The relationship-building chief compliance officer is the one that focuses on becoming an essential part of business processes. Relationship building CCOs create partnerships with other departments, educating them and being educated by them.  

They cross-train their staff and offer the ability for other teams to send their people to compliance for training. They are clear and transparent about processes and decision-making.  

Their approach is collaborative. Instead of issuing dictates about the way compliance efforts run, they ensure collaboration and make sure there’s inherent value in the partnerships they build.  

Business leaders already think processes run slowly and are wary of consensus decision-making because of the way it can bog down the implementation of new efforts. The role of a relationship-building CCO is to ensure their knowledge is so valued and their voice so trusted that other business professionals rely on their voice and perspective for decision making and strategic planning.  

Relationship builders can start connecting throughout the organization by offering audits.  

If that word automatically sets off red flags within the organization, position it as a means of optimizing departmental efforts. Every leader wants to optimize their team’s work so they can perform better and can see the impact their efforts are making.  

Tech Adopter. 

The digital transformation of financial services has accelerated during the past several years. To keep up with the technology resources clients demand, compliance professionals have to keep up with the needs of their organizations and the offerings in the marketplace.  

The tech adopter CCO can also be a bit of a tech enthusiast. They educate themselves on the opportunities that exist and they approach new tech resources with curiosity rather than with trepidation.  

In the past, CCOs may have felt some discomfort with the idea of heavily investing in compliance technology, lest they put themselves and their team members out of a job. However, today’s CCOs recognize the potential for regtech tools to improve their compliance processes. Bringing technology into compliance can:  

  • Streamline processes.  
  • Stratify risks.  
  • Improve workflows.  
  • Give visibility to patterns.  
  • Free up time for higher priority matters.  

The tech adopter should also be an advocate for continuing education, giving their team and other key people in the organization the knowledge they need to handle a continually complexifying industry. As technology and innovation move forward, the make-up of a professional compliance staff may begin to shift, as the organization brings together people with business-specific experience, accountants, researchers, IT professionals, and more. 

By bringing a diverse group together in the compliance department, you have a greater likelihood of covering and addressing issues as they arise rather than being surprised by something outside your team’s collective knowledge.  

Ethics Guardian.  

A CCO who focuses on ethics unites the area of the business focusing on doing right by the letter of the law (the compliance department) with the concept of doing what’s right in daily business decision making. 

A CCO who wants to lead as an ethics guardian isn’t a stern arbiter of right and wrong within the organization. Instead, they’re an educator and culture builder, infusing a commitment to ethics and compliance into every aspect of the organization’s business model.  

Stepping up as an ethics guardian can be one of the more challenging methods of being a compliance leader. It requires asking:  

  • Your team members to speak up regarding ethical situations and to provide contrarian viewpoints when necessary.  
  • Your organizational leaders to be open to necessary cultural shifts to bring ethics and compliance to the forefront of the organization’s awareness and decision-making.  

Ethics guardians can invest their time and resources in education, as well as in recognition. By acknowledging and celebrating ethically minded employees, they start to create awareness of the desired state for the organization and to give employees practical guidance on how ethics can play a key role in daily business processes.  

When you’re leading a compliance team, you have more than your department on your shoulders. The way you integrate compliance into the organization will have a lasting impact on the business’s success. And, critically, forging a path forward as a compliance leader means that you can position your compliance function as a strategic and competitive advantage, rather than as a cost center.  

Ready to begin shifting your compliance efforts to create greater strategic value? Here’s how we can help:  

    • Industry-leading advertising compliance software that can streamline your compliance workload and allow your team to shift priorities and focus on critical activities.  
    • Knowledgeable compliance consultants who can help you shape your department’s path forward, provide critical training for your team and your organization’s leaders, and step in with an extra set of hands to address compliance needs.