Bridging the Gap: 3 traits of a good Compliance Officer

Bridging the Gap: 3 traits of a good Compliance Officer

March 22, 2017
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It may not be the most glamorous, but serving as a Compliance officer in your firm has its benefits. Its certainly one of the most important jobs in your firm, regardless of daily observations (‘you guys are not even revenue generating’) that may suggest otherwise.

But what does it take to bridge that gap between being just another staff member and being an effective Compliance Officer? Here are a few ideas:

1. Say ‘yes’, with risk management

Most compliance officers are viewed as the ‘NOs’ within the firm. No, we cannot accept that client, No, we cannot accept that form of certification, No, we don’t think the firm should get involved in THAT type of business. But an effective compliance officer can balance between risk management obligations and the firm’s broader commercial objectives.

Sometimes, saying yes but with enhanced procedures, or giving the go ahead but under certain conditions not only works from a practical perspective, but also helps to build trust between your risk management team and the rest of the firm.

2. Go beyond the box ticking

Many companies have detailed procedures, targeted at addressing every possible scenario. This translates into staff attempting to manage risk by checking off these possible scenarios. Trouble is, no one knows every scenario and new ones are emerging every day. The worse risk management failures occur because people in the right positions stop thinking and over rely on procedures. The human instinct is at times a far better tool to determine the appropriate actions than any amount of box ticking ever will.

A good compliance knows that having a passport or knowing the true address of a client says absolutely nothing about whether that client may be up to no good. But paying close attention to behaviour, thinking through the situation, and sussing out unusual activity can.

3. Love, and use, technology

A good compliance officer doesn’t get frustrated with new technology, he/she becomes immersed in it.

There are only 10 to 12 hours in a typical day for a compliance officer (yes many work more than 8 hours), and harnessing new technology to assist with monitoring transactions and determining certain trends is key to focusing on the true areas of risk. With so much information passing through the firm daily it is near impossible to focus in on the high risk areas (what your boss wants you to do) without innovative methods and new technologies. Instead of asking why is this new technology so complicated? A good compliance officer says ‘how can this help me to better manage the firm’s risks’.

ps: learn more about being an effective Compliance Officer by registering for this new seminar on the Common Reporting Standards (CRS).

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