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Wednesday, December 12 2018

Trust Your Instincts When Selecting a Compliance Consulting Firm. It is, after all, a Partnership – PART 1

Submitted by: Carmela Ravi, Business Development Director, Red Oak Compliance Solutions

The relationship between a compliance consulting firm and a client is a partnership. It is a collaboration which is based on the delivery of excellent service and mutual respect.

This is the first of two articles that I have the honor to share and I hope they will prove to be beneficial.

There are four questions that need to be addressed to reach a level of trust and understanding between a client (or prospect) and a compliance consulting firm:

  1. Why do I need a compliance consulting firm?
  2. Where are the best resources to find one?
  3. What questions do I ask?
  4. How do I make the final selection?

This article, “Part 1” of my two-part series, addresses questions 1 and 2. “Part 2” will cover questions 3 and 4.

Question 1: Why do I need a compliance consulting firm?

This question may seem obvious, but it is not. CCOs experience daily surging demands on their time to manage the firm’s compliance risks with fewer resources and diminishing budgets. They make decisions by balancing “must have” vs. “wish to have”. Therefore, making a list of what compliance areas a CCO may need assistance can be a time and money saver. For example, do you need to automate certain aspects of your firm’s compliance program? Could your firm benefit from a mock SEC audit? Do you need to access a resource ad hoc, or, help with a special project? Do you have a recurring compliance need? Once that list is made, there are a couple of options you may consider.

You may start by eliminating items. Then, you may create a priority list, or, focus on that one item that keeps you up at night. Another beneficial option is to ask the vendor providers you will interview to help you prioritize your list. This can be an indicator of the provider’s knowledge of the requirements and willingness to understand your goal(s), your pain point(s), and your concern(s). Discuss your concerns during the vetting process. Ask if there is something you are not seeing, or, missing. What can you learn from them?

Question 2: Where are the best resources to find a compliance consulting firm?

Once you have your list, you may start your research. This is an important step because not all compliance consulting firms have the same level of expertise and/or experience. Therefore, your resources can answer questions such as the ability, experience, core competency of a compliance consulting firm.

There are several sources you may use to begin the process and not all of them can be listed. A lot of CCOs may already use them. Most likely to be successful are (in order of easy access):

  • Google it: Google search is the easiest to run. However, you may have a bit of a challenge finding the right firm and feedback. For example, some accounting and tech firms can have a risk and regulatory consulting practice. The challenge is to discern if their services fit your needs and how. You can start by compiling a short list of firms, i.e., by location, brand name recognition, size, types of services.
  • Referrals: Ask your peers if they use, or, know of, a reliable and competent firm and what they think. Are they happy? Do they receive prompt response and attention? Are they satisfied with the content received? Has the provider met their expectations? Why do they trust this vendor?
  • Peer Groups: Like referrals, these groups can be a significant resource of providers that the members trust. Ask same questions as referrals, share what you are looking for and your expectations. Another successful way is to pay attention to what peers are asking the group if they are looking for a vendor. Usually the question is: does anybody know……? This is a good source for getting comparable vendors and hear the members’ experience.
  • Law firms: Attorneys can be another reliable resource. They typically tend to ensure the level of knowledge and expertise. Ask same questions referrals and peer groups.
  • Industry Associations: There are many member organizations and associations in our space to list them all. However, there are two associations that are most commonly known by CCOs. The NSCP https://nscp.org/ and IAA https://www.investmentadviser.org are member organizations that can be an invaluable resource to help meet the need of a CCO, including, but not limited to, access to a vendor directory. If you are a member of an industry association, it is likely the association has a vendor list for its members.
  • Industry events: These events are a great way to network with peers, get tremendous content and training and more. They are also a great opportunity to talk to exhibitors. Depending on the type of event, chances are you will find the same compliance consulting firms exhibiting. Don’t be shy, or, reticent. Go to their booths and ask them questions. What do they do? How long have they been in business? What type of clients do they service? Share a pain point and see if they can provide insight, directions, or guidance. The best exhibitors are those who listen attentively and want to solve a pain point.

Till next time, I hope you have enjoyed this reading and I encourage you to reach out to me for any questions. I will be glad to provide you with my input. You can reach me directly by email cravi@redoakcompliance.com, or via phone 512-948-0080.

For more information about Red Oak Compliance Software and Services Solutions, Partnership and/or Integration Opportunities or to Schedule a Demo, please visit us online, email us sales@redoakcompliance.com or give us a call at 888-302-4594.