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How to be an Effective Chief Compliance Officer

How to be an Effective Chief Compliance Officer 3

How to be an Effective Chief Compliance Officer 4By Gabriel Hopkins, Chief Product Officer, Ripjar

As threats continue to evolve and regulations change, Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) face a demanding set of challenges. It is not only about understanding regulations and laws – the modern CCO needs to be agile and able to leverage technological solutions while building solid interpersonal relationships.

To succeed, a COO must embody leadership and communicate clearly. They must operate a healthy compliance culture, combining age-old techniques with modern data-driven strategies.

Returning to the Basics

To achieve lasting success CCOs must first build strong foundations. Despite the rapidly changing nature of the compliance setting, it is still essential to get the basics right by strengthening some occasionally overlooked fundamentals.

Financial Crime risk assessments are a valuable tool in risk management, capturing external and internal factors. Despite the obvious necessity, regulators have recently pinpointed inadequate risk assessments as a common weakness for financial institutions (FIs).

For example, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned of poor business-wide risk assessments that lack detail on financial crime risks, and generic customer risk assessments that lumped money laundering and terrorist financing risks together.

Establishing a management information (MI) framework is essential for overseeing financial crime risk and communicating it to stakeholders. Ideally, it should encompass strategic, qualitative and quantitative indicators.

There are a number of ways that COOs can look to develop an MI framework. These include:

  • Avoiding overreporting with too many data points. For example, ask yourself what information is actually useful?
  • Using strategic qualitative and quantitative metrics
  • Considering the best intervals at which to assess and report MI
  • Delivering information to the board in a straightforward and transparent manner

The Importance of KYC

Know Your Customer (KYC) is an essential regulatory requirement that has seen substantial opportunities for enhancement from technological advancements. FIs are obliged to undertake ongoing due diligence throughout a business relationship and ensure that documents, data and information collected are kept up-to-date and relevant.

In recent years there has been a significant push towards automation, encouraged by heightened awareness of risk and the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted existing processes and exposed staffing challenges. FIs have increasingly turned to technology as a vital tool for effective due diligence and achieving perpetual KYC.

Perpetual KYC uses technology and automation to monitor customers, encouraging a proactive rather than reactive approach to due diligence. Customer information is refreshed based on specific triggers, events, or behavioural patterns. This approach can better capture risk in real time, without unnecessarily bogging down staff. While this ultimately relies on mature data availability and management, beginning to move towards automation and perpetual KYC is an essential strategy for tomorrow’s CCO.

Using your Data Effectively

Having relevant and robust data is necessary to provide accurate and useful analytical outputs as the effectiveness of many newly adopted technologies, such as the use of artificial intelligence, relies on high quality data.

And this need for robust, quality data will only rise in importance. The modern day CCO must therefore have the quantitative skills required to interpret it.

Data and data analytics can assist with driving efficiencies, reducing costs and improving decision making. To support operational effectiveness, the use of AI, machine learning, and automation can help reduce alert backlogs, often suffered across key areas such as politically exposed persons (PEPs), sanctions, and adverse media screening.

Data analytics can be used in screening to reduce the number of false positives and allow analysts to focus efforts on true matches. Furthermore, anomaly detection through a combination of behavioural profiling, real-time detection scenarios, and predictive analytics can help improve the accuracy of results.

Partnership Building

While the CCO is ultimately responsible for establishing a healthy compliance culture, they do not operate in isolation. A considerable part of compliance leadership involves relationship building. Setting the foundation for how business teams and controls functions engage across the organisation requires establishing strategic partnerships.

Another instrumental component is language. Effective communication means telling business heads that they need to accept the risks identified, rather than portraying them as threats that can be eliminated.

Staying One Step Ahead

It’s inevitable that in such a fast-paced world there will be geopolitical and regulatory changes. CCOs must ensure they are aware of potential and emerging threats. Ensuring that they have the skill set to act quickly and, wherever possible, proactively.

As the threat landscape changes and new legislation comes into play, the modern CCO must be able to shift priorities at a moment’s notice. Ultimately, regulatory change and requests from authorities take precedence over priorities for the business.

There is no better example demonstrating the need for extreme adaptability than COVID-19. In the last few years, online digital banking and payment processing has skyrocketed, providing a wealth of opportunities for fraudsters – statistics show that fraud risk in the UK has surged by 24% since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Getting the basics right, developing and understanding available sources of data, and communicating effectively, while keeping a level head, will ensure any CCO is on a solid footing to lead their organisation safely through a complex and demanding world.

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