Welcome to Episode 5 of Compliance Man Goes Global podcast of FCPA Compliance Report International Edition. In this episode, we focus on typical concepts (or probably myths) of ways a Compliance professional might become a more valuable member of the management team rather than becoming most hated person in the organization. We will do it in plain language and in the simple game form. Moreover, to make the podcast handy and more appealing we attach respective illustration from the Compliance Man illustrated series, created by Timur Khasanov-Batirov.

For those of our listeners who are not aware about our format, in each podcast, we take two typical concepts or more accurately misconceptions from in-house compliance reality. We check out if these concepts work at emerging jurisdictions. For each podcast, we divide roles with Timur, a practitioner who focuses on embedding compliance programs at high-risk markets. One of us will advocate the concept identifying pros. The second compliance man will provide arguments finding cons and trying to convince audience that that we face a pure myth. As a result, we hopefully will be able to come up with some practical solutions for in-house compliance practitioners.

Tom: To start with, Tim, probably we should explain to our listeners why we called our today’s episode ‘You Really Like Me’?

Tim Khasanov-Batirov: We call today’s episode “You Really Like Me!” remembering Sally Field’s gushing acceptance speech at Oscar ceremony. The funny thing is that sometimes even in-house Compliance people have a strong wish to exclaim after her something like: “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it—and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

Tom: OK, Tim, let’s see if this is possible in reality or would remain just a dream of Compliance officers globally.

Myth #1 There is a chance that Compliance officer could avoid being named the most hated person in the organization.  Tim, do you agree with this statement?

Tim Khasanov-Batirov: Let’s try. I think we have some pros here:  

Argument #1.

A Compliance professional can avoid being the most hated person if personnel along with top management understand the role of Compliance function in the organization. Unless a Compliance professional delivers a clear message about risks he or she manages and value they bring, they are dependent on subjective views of other team members. We have depicted this situation in the attached release of Compliance Man illustrated series.

Argument #2.

You might think about setting KPIs based on respective regulatory requirements referring for instance to 10 Hallmarks of the Effective Compliance Program or the Evalution of Corporate Compliance Programs. This will allow you to set criteria, which could be used for unbiased and verifiable evaluation of your efforts.

Tom:  I think, Tim that there are some cons here as well:

Argument #1

As we know, there is no way people will like a Compliance officer all the time. Subject to particular situation or position, the Compliance professional’s managers might change their minds. So we should not have illusion of being most loved person constantly.

Argument #2

There is a big risk if Compliance person becomes too friendly with the employees and becomes co-opted by the business folks. This could lead to losing impartiality. Therefore, there is a very thin line between being business-oriented ethics professional and attempts just to ‘get likes’ from management.

Tim: Tom, I agree with you.

Tom: Let’s go, Tim. We can formulate the next concept or maybe misconception in the following way:

Myth #2. In real life, Compliance officer de-facto is not able to become a member of managerial team (or just “team” so to say) being isolated from it by virtue of his “business prevention” mission. Tim, will you agree with this concept?

Tim: I strongly disagree with this concept.

Argument #1.

In my view, Compliance department in many cases is called a “Business prevention unit” not because of being very strict and picky. It is because of not fully understanding the business processes involved. As soon as compliance officer starts to hear other team members, he will be able to suggest solutions, which are compliant, and business oriented in the same time.

Argument #2.

It is about priorities. Management team should clearly see that Compliance officer is focusing on real regulatory risks and priorities rather than creating a useless bureaucracy regarding minor issues, which in many cases could be easily resolved.

What are your views, Tom?

Tom: I have some pros to support the concept that in reality Compliance officer is not just another member of the business team.

Argument #1.

We have a special mission to assess business from external, in majority of cases regulatory prospective. Thus, many things, which at first glance might look as being good for business, could pose regulatory risk in the future. Thus, Compliance person is in charge of demonstrating a high-level or strategic view rather than solely looking at momentary business advantages.

Argument #2.

Compliance is a relatively new job in comparison to well established corporate functions such as a Legal Department or even Internal Audit. So even just by mere fact of being a “newcomer” the Compliance Officer differs from almost all members of the management team which represent “traditional” occupations.

Tim: Agreed, Tom. As key takeaways from today discussion, I think we can mention the following:

  • Compliance officer should be a business-oriented person with good understanding of business processes along with clear views on how to structure them in line with regulatory expectations.

Tom: Fair enough, Tim. It looks to be a practical tip. Tom Fox and Tim Khasanov-Batirov were here for you.

Join us for the next episode of Compliance Man Go Global episode of FCPA Compliance Report International Edition. Let’s bust more corporate compliance myths with us.