“Well I might be bitter and twisted and broken and petty and lying
But at least I’m trying”
— I’m Trying (Not Friends) by Maisie Peters
As a compliance professional in the financial services industry, you know that staying on top of the latest regulations and best practices is critical to your success.
Our sector is subject to a range of regulations, including those from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), as well as guidance issued by AUSTRAC, AFCA, OAIC and associations like the FPA.
As 2020, 2021 and 2022 showed, compliance isn’t easy.
None of us want another difficult year, so we need to be more thoughtful, considered and deliberate this year.
Practically, to be effective in your role as a compliance professional, here are five key things to focus on in 2023.
1. Stay up to date with regulations and best practices.
This is crucial in the fast-paced world of financial services, where new regulations and guidance are frequently introduced.
In Australia, compliance professionals should regularly check the websites of ASIC and APRA for updates and new information.
The Quality of Advice Review may not have had any immediate impact, beyond sowing more uncertainty, but even if it’s only ever drip-fed to us by Treasury, we need to stay across it and the ALRC’s review of the Corporations Act (which has already had some impact).
Research the relevant case law and subscribe to those regulatory updates (like ours) that are tailored to our industry. [Don’t be left behind. Read Three Hit Tuesday.]
In addition to doubling-down on your self-directed development, commit to attending relevant conferences like the ASIC Annual Forum, workshops and training sessions that can provide valuable insights and help you stay on top of the latest developments.
In 2023, we’re planning to run Compliance Community events in Sydney and Melbourne which you’re more than welcome to attend.
Our Responsible Manager workshops are also particularly useful for compliance staff because the case-study format emphasises forensic skills and practical application.
2. Develop a stronger understanding of your business operations and processes.
This is particularly important in the financial services industry, where a wide range of products and services are offered, and where the target markets and key stakeholders can vary significantly.
Even in the most transparent business, there are often more complications; informal reporting lines, ways of doing things and undocumented rules and processes “that everybody knows”.
Getting to the heart of how a business really operates, is often not as simple as reading their policies and procedures.
Think about your own business and try to identify, and document, the shadow processes that operate in your business. Then consider whether, and to what extent, both sets of arrangements need to be reconciled.
By gaining a deeper, practical understanding of how your operations and compliance arrangements actually interact, you can identify potential compliance risks and develop effective strategies to manage them.
3. Establish and maintain effective communication and collaboration channels.
Compliance is everyone’s responsibility but, in many organisations, there’s often no common definition of “compliance”.
There’s also often nuanced approaches to responsibility.
You need to establish strong communication and collaboration channels with your compliance team, as well as with other departments to ensure that compliance issues are identified and addressed in a timely manner, and that processes are effective and efficient.
4. Implement robust systems to evaluate your compliance arrangements.
You know that regular monitoring and evaluation of compliance is essential to ensure that the organisation is meeting its obligations. This could include conducting regular audits and reviews, as well as implementing appropriate training and education programs for employees.
By implementing robust systems and processes, or implementing technology to support and assist you, you can identify potential issues before they become a problem and take steps to address them. There’s any number of ways to do this, but your first step should be to consider a robust and integrated compliance platform.
5. Take a proactive approach to compliance management.
Rather than simply reacting to issues as they arise, it is important to take a proactive approach to compliance management.
This could include conducting regular risk assessments to identify potential compliance issues and developing plans to address them. By taking a proactive approach, you can anticipate and mitigate potential compliance issues, minimise the risk of non-compliance and take a more strategic role.
Move beyond the traditional lag indicators to try to identify the relevant lead indicators. Think about how your business performs comparatively and where there are opportunities for improvement.
We’ll be publishing and distributing regular benchmark reports to our clients in 2023, so if you’re an Assured Support client, this will make things significantly easier for you.
If you’ve read this far, you’re well aware that the financial services sector is subject to a range of complex regulations that most compliance professionals struggle to keep their heads above water.
Most of us have had enough of treading water and, if we want to crush 2023, we need to commit to better planning, more effective training and considered development.
As compliance professionals, we stay up to date with the latest developments, we assist our clients with the implementation of effective systems and processes to drive efficiencies and success.
By focusing on these five key areas, staying up to date with the latest developments, and implementing effective systems and processes, you can ensure that your business is (and remains) compliant and sustainable, and that your compliance processes are robust, effective and focused on delivering success.