How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer

Being a Compliance Officer is no easy task. Administering a compliance program, implementing controls to help protect clients and the firm, and staying on top of new regulations is only part of the job. Compliance Officers are also expected to be flexible and pro-business. So how do you do it all? How can you be a compliance superhero? In the Ascendant Compliance Solutions Strategies 2019 Spring Conference keynote address, Kristy Grant-Hart outlined many strategies compliance officers can take to be business friendly and to make a positive impression at their firms:

  • Create value. No firm wants negative press. Make sure leaders at your firm understand that by protecting the firm’s clients, you’re protecting the firm’s reputation.
  • Understand what motivates key personnel. To get the business onboard with compliance initiatives, consider what motivates them. If the person is fearful of their personal image being tarnished, provide them with examples of individuals being personally liable for compliance violations to help get your message across.
  • Examine body language. When you’re butting heads on an issue, look at the person’s body language and adjust your tone or message accordingly.
  • Find your supporters in the organization. Partner with other leaders in the business to get acceptance from others.
  • Be their friend and their fire. Have employees’ backs and fight for them. Assume they are ethical and want to do the right thing for clients.
  • Make people know you, trust you and like you. Be relatable, vulnerable and social. Talk to others about your hobbies and family; being vulnerable allows others to be vulnerable with you. When given the opportunity to socialize with colleagues, take it. Show them you are there to help the business. Earn their trust.

Being a former Compliance Officer, Kristy understands that most compliance professionals are strained for resources and gave some great tips for requesting (and getting!) more resources:

  • Be explicit and specific. Don’t use acronyms that management may not understand. Speak in plain English about regulatory issues and tie them into your needs.
  • Practice what you’re going to say. Prepare for questions and skepticism so you’ll be able to provide a well thought-out response.
  • Use stories. Help people feel your concerns and show them how you can help the firm by sharing experiences of other firms.
  • Be the fixer. Be solutions-oriented. Show how additional resources can help fix issues within the firm.
  • Use visuals to get your message across. Use pictures and charts to help convey your needs.
  • Use a “Choice of Yes” Pattern. Don’t present options that are unreasonable and can result in getting told NO. Present different sources for resources that are reasonable.

Many of the consultants at CSS have in-house experience as Chief Compliance Officers and understand the struggles that go along with the job. In addition to offering risk mitigation strategies, our consulting services include strategies to create synergies within the business so you can be wildly effective at compliance.


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CSS frequently publishes blog posts which are written by our team from their observations in the field, at conferences and through experiences with compliance professionals. These posts are designed to further knowledge and share industry best practices. Topics run the gamut, including Form ADV, cybersecurity, MiFID II, position limit monitoring, technology challenges and more. Complete and submit the brief form below to receive notifications when we publish new content.

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