Günter Grass died this week. The contradictions that made up post-war Germany were wrapped up in him as well as any other single person I know anything about. He was a Nobel Prize winner for literature, who, it was revealed late in his life, had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was an anti-militarist, anti-nationalist and against German reunification, yet a big fan of Castro’s Cuba. Contractions indeed. Like most Americans, I was introduced to Grass through his seminal work The Tin Drum. It was as haunting a work as I had read up to that point in my life and one I can still remember reading to this day.
In the area of conference excellence around all things compliance, there is the upcoming Compliance Week 2015. While the conference has not had as many appearances as Gehrig’s long streak, this is the 10th annual event. As usual, Matt Kelly and his team over at Compliance Week have put together a star-studded and first-rate program for a wide variety of compliance practitioners. From the US government there is Margaret McGuire, Vice Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Financial Reporting and Task Force, and Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. For export controls there will be representatives from the Department of Treasury and Department of Justice (DOJ) to bring you the latest on export control enforcement issues. Finally, both Laura Perkins from the DOJ and Kara Brockmeyer from the SEC will be there to discuss Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement from the perspectives of their agencies.
As usual there will be many sessions aimed at the compliance practitioner. Are you interested in developing a strong corporate culture? If so there will be sessions to discuss how to do so from working with your management to have the right culture to building ethics and compliance programs that amplify those values rather than undermine them. Another often-discussed topic is compliance leadership. There are several sessions focusing on this topics as well as moving compliance officers into the new era of corporate compliance, CCO 2.0.
If there are specific geographic areas that you are concerned about there will be conversations about Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, China and Latin America. In these sessions, held in smaller groups to facilitate conversations and questions, there will be discussions that focus on ethics and compliance risks in geographic hotspots around the world. Wondering which regulators matter most in a specific area? What training tactics work best for local workforces? Which cultural differences can cause the biggest risks or mis-steps? All those questions and more are prime fodder for these sessions.
Cyber security is becoming more prominent. In addition to the sessions where government speakers will talk from their perspectives, there will also be sessions aimed at the corporate response. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) reporting and money laundering issues will be discussed. Finally, although it may not seem intuitive for compliance professionals but I would urge you to attend the session on the new revenue recognition standards. Even I could understand the prior standards and lawyers and compliance professionals need to have handle on what the business folks need to do to have their sales properly recognized in books and records.
There will be several sessions dealing with training. An interesting one is entitled “Game On: 4th Generation Ethics and Compliance Education” and will provide you with information on best practices and how to align roles, risks, training priorities strategically and to make the most efficient use of limited training time while protecting the organization. The discussion will be framed around statistics that you can use to drive training decisions and true program effectiveness. Another interesting angle will be through the prism of social media in a session which will consider the new risks social media brings, and the best ways to square its advances in communications and IT with your existing compliance program, whether that’s through new policies, new technology, or a mix of both.
There will be several of sessions dealing with investigations. One I am looking forward to attending is entitled “Compliance Officer’s Role in Investigations and Discipline”, where we will focus on how you can run an effective investigation in some of the most difficult spots in the world, where local law may conflict with what you need to do. The distinguished panel will explore local stumbling blocks to your investigation, and offer ideas on how to complete the job nonetheless. In the era of pre-taliation claims by the SEC, discipline is becoming a trickier subject for Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs).
The FCPA is always at the forefront of this conference and this year’s event is no different. You can learn from Leslie Caldwell about overall enforcement trends and from other government representatives on some of the issues specific to their agencies and departments. Lastly, I will be leading a conversation on the FCPA enforcement trends we have seen in 2015 to date.
As usual, Matt Kelly and his team have put together a fantastic event. But the greatest value might be for you to mingle and meet with some of the top compliance practitioners and thought leaders in the country over three days in May. There will be plenty of time for socializing and meeting in the spacious breakfast area, on refreshment breaks or in the always-great Tuesday evening cocktail party.
I have been authorized to offer readers of this blog, who register for Compliance Week, a discount off of the standard rate. To register, please use this link and enter discount code CW15_FCPAFOX (case sensitive) to receive the special pricing. You can read more on the event by going to the following website: http://conference.complianceweek.com.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2015