01 Jan 2019
2019 has arrived, and with it staff will be well aware that the one ongoing factor within the world of compliance is the constant change.
This state of flux manifests itself in many forms, such as new proposals, new regulations, new guidance, enforcement decisions and legal judgments.
Here are some suggestions about a number of ways in which a diligent compliance officer may keep up to date with the latest changes and stay on the ball in the year that lies ahead:
Regulators’ information and media releases
Keep abreast with what regulators are saying. For example, almost all regulators will issue media releases from time to time.
It is sometimes possible for compliance staff to subscribe (for free) to the media release service of all their relevant regulators.
These releases will cover such items as new rules, new guidance, new consultation documents and enforcement decisions.
It is particularly worth taking notice of speeches made by regulatory staff, where official views on current matters of interest are often conveyed.
Trade journals and media
I also recommend regularly reading some of the many journals out there that cover compliance, banking and related topics. In addition to KYC360, which is freely accessible, there are websites and email services targeted at the financial services industry that one might find useful.
Some of these publications may be complementary, whilst others charge an annual fee. They will tend to cover the same current issues of regulatory interest that other information sources mentioned in this article address.
With the US having the toughest system of financial regulation and enforcement in the world, it is often worth reviewing the enforcement documents of the US regulators, as highlighted in these services, as they often give a foretaste of the topics that other regulators around the globe will begin to focus on.
Newsletters produced by law firms can be an excellent source of information. Those law firms specialising in the financial services industry will regularly produce newsletters, client alerts and client briefings. These are obtainable by signing up to the relevant publications via the websites of the law firms in question.
Allied to this free service, are seminars on a variety of regulatory topics offered by those same law firms. The seminars, which are usually free to attend, can last between an hour and ninety minutes and are generally lead by a lawyer specialising in financial services.
Depending on the firm in question, the seminars may take place first thing in the morning, at lunchtime or late afternoon.
Many compliance staff favour attending one or two day conferences on a specific regulatory topic or on a more wide ranging set of topics.
These events are suitable for acquiring a lot of relevant information in a very short period of time or are new to a particular issue.
However, they tend to be very expensive to attend and often you may hear from the same lawyers who speak at seminars presented by their own law firms.
In addition, at times these events may not meet a crucial qualitative benchmark one needs to ask, which is: will attending this conference convey three things for my benefit or will it help me to perform my role better tomorrow rather than in six months or twelve months time when, say, a new regulation takes effect?
The firms to which compliance staff belong will, in most cases, be members of one or more trade associations.
These trade associations are always very keen to have staff from member firms join their various committees.
Through attending such committee meetings, compliance staff can learn, in depth, about current regulatory issues, such as new laws, regulations and guidance.
Staff will also have the opportunity to directly influence the responses by the trade association to a variety of consultations and draft proposals.
A further benefit of getting involved in trade association work is meeting colleagues who will be performing similar roles at other firms.
Another mechanism for keeping up-to-date with regulatory matters is usually offered by relevant professional institutes.
These organisations, in most cases, offer seminars on regulatory topics as well as having committee meetings on a variety of topics, which offer the same advantages as trade association committee meetings.
There are variety of sources of information to assist compliance staff keeping up to date in a world of constant change.
It is up to each person to decide which combination of sources are most suitable for them.
However, it is not a credible option for a diligent compliance officer not to be aware of the latest regulatory issues, just as it is not reasonable for a family doctor not to learn about the latest drugs and treatments.
That said, here’s wishing you all a very happy New Year.
About the author: UK-based Denis O’Connor is both a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment. He was a member of the British Bankers’ Association Money Laundering Committee from 2003 -10; and a member of the JMLSG’s Board and Editorial Panel between 2010 and 2016. He has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences on financial crime issues, both in the UK and abroad.
This article is expressing personal opinions and is meant for information purposes only. The article does not intend to replace professional or legal advice. It is recommended that readers seek independent professional or legal advice, or speak to authorised persons/organisations.
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