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Sector Insights risk and compliance interim

by Christopher Hall


Do You Need An Interim Risk And Compliance Professional?

Following on from Katie Halpin’s, Head of Risk and Compliance, blog post on the importance of promoting a culture of compliance in your organisation, compliance professional Christopher Hall shares his insights into the compliance role in organisations today.

Anyone working in a regulated industry is familiar with the significance of compliance. Meeting regulatory requirements is increasingly important in a world where governance rules, and risk and compliance specialists continue to be in high demand.

As a compliance professional you probably think my job is to ensure I:

  • stick to the rules and spreading the gospel of good compliance,
  • improve the way products and processes meet the needs of vulnerable customers,
  • deliver the right outcomes for customers, together with transparency, suitability, affordability, forbearance,
  • strengthen businesses against the regulatory challenges of the future.

And you would be right – but in today’s highly regulated and economically sensitive times, there is a lot more to the role.

Interim Risk And Compliance Professionals Helping Firms ‘Get It Right’

I liked the idea of working in compliance, because I really wanted to help firms ‘Get It Right’ and meet their responsibilities. My role is to help firms get it right, not to get away with it.

Today, more than ever before, firms are required to follow and evidence clear guidelines in terms of the way they operate and communicate with their customers.

Historically, compliance has been seen as a ‘tick-box’ exercise, responding to regulatory requirements by overlaying a ‘compliant’ approach onto business operations or marketing communications. I’ve even heard the regulator being referred to as the ‘Bogeyman’, but with all myths, it is just to scare the business into doing something they don’t want to do.

As PwC pointed out in their 2015 ‘State of Compliance’ survey, compliance professionals are able to provide valuable knowledge that can help guide firms strategic direction, and businesses should tap into this knowledge and make the most of their compliance team’s ability to influence strategy.

The compliance and risk landscape is continually changing, especially with the failings highlighted by the financial crisis a few years ago – and this leaves no doubt about the depth and breadth of experience needed in this highly important business area.

Compliance jobs are widespread in the industry; recruiting for a permanent candidate can be a major headache for any firm. Many businesses are looking for interim support to help with:

  • Compliance Monitoring
  • General ad-hoc advice and assistance with regulatory and related matters
  • Completion of Regulatory Returns
  • Conduct periodic risk assessments
  • Policy and procedure reviews and updates
  • Implement Regulatory updates and risk reviews
  • Review financial promotions and other customer communications
  • General ad-hoc advice and assistance with regulatory and related matters

The above points are by no means limited. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) provide guidance to the nature of the compliance function, but is too broad to pin down exact responsibilities of.

Many businesses seem to be enforcing restrictions on hiring, but firms need to be up-skilling their compliance departments and raising their internal bar as to what is necessary to maintain compliance. It is a technically competent area, and companies need to pay people accordingly, as with any role in a technically skilled business area.

Compliance officers have a huge job, knowing regulations that apply to different departments in the organisation and industry, monitoring the company’s compliance levels, keeping up to date with changes that apply, updating policy documents and processes, managing communications sign off of communications. – but the damage of getting compliance wrong can be vast, and can result in large fines and reputational damage as firms continue to come under the regulatory microscope.

Accenture’s 2015 Compliance Risk Study  surveyed compliance officers at financial services firms across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The study finds that the compliance function is alive and well, retaining stature and significance and anticipating significant increases in spending. 

So why employ an interim consultant?

Industry reports predict that short-term contractors and consultants will increasingly be employed throughout 2016.

Banks, asset management and other regulated firms are clearly recognising the importance of compliance roles in protecting them from the fines, negative publicity and reputational damage an FCA intervention can bring about.

The regulator has stated an intention to shift its approach away from one of strict policing and intervention.

The FCA’s preference is for an environment where compliance is embedded within the corporate ethos, instead aiming for cultures where compliance is ‘business as usual’.

Promises of less regulation in future are of little comfort to banks struggling to meet the requirements of existing legislation.

Interim consultants or contractors offer a high level expertise within the regulated space. They can lead and manage change initiatives, plug important gaps and drive business.

Interims are available at short-notice, even in a busy market such as Risk/Compliance, they can start in a matter of days, if not weeks.

One misconception is that interims are more expensive. This is far from the truth, especially when you considered that an employee receives bonuses, sick pay, annual leave, pensions, and other benefits. A contractor secured on a reasonable daily rate can cost the same.

Risk and Compliance Interims can also offer instant knowledge in their specialist areas and can make immediate impacts to any business.

Whatever sector or business you work in, it is clear that modern organisations need to be aware of the importance of having the professional compliance support in place – the regulatory and reputational risks associated with not doing so are simply not worth it.

If you think recruiting a risk and compliance interim would be advantageous for your organisation the next step may be to get buy in from the Board. For advice on achieving this, read this post from Rod McInnes on How To Persuade The Board You Need An Interim.

Use the comments box below if you would like to share your thoughts on the content of this blog post. Whether you are also an interim working in risk and compliance, or are responsible for compliance in your organisation, we would like to hear from you.

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About the Author

Christopher has over 15 years’ experience approving financial promotions for life insurance, accident and health insurance, retirement planning, wealth management solutions, investment management, mortgages, banks and consumer credit. LSCPROM is a unique marketing compliance resource, and provides a fresh approach for a new age of marketing

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