Over the next five podcasts, I will visit with Don Stern, Managing Director, Corporate Monitors and Consulting Services at Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (the sponsor of this five-part series) on working with monitors. Over this series we will consider, in Part I-Fears and Concerns in Working with Monitors; in Part II-the Impact Monitors Can Have for an Organization; in Part III-How Monitors Do Their Jobs; in Part IV-Regulators Using Monitors; and in Part V-Attorneys Using Monitors. At the end of this series you will have a much broader appreciation on the benefits of an independent monitor, how monitors work and how the different types of monitorships can benefit a wide variety of businesses, transactions and business relationships.

Stern believes some of the fears and concerns are understandable, particularly if a company, does not have experience with the positives of the use of an independent monitor and a monitor’s assisting a company in improving the compliance program. While some of it may have to do with the unknown, one area is simply the extra costs associated with a monitor. If the monitor is a part of a government settlement or resolution, there can be the fear, sometimes driven by war stories, that monitors will have mission creep and continue the investigation, even after a resolution. A company may fear that a monitor will come in and look under every nook and cranny. This feeds into both concerns of cost and mission creep. Another concern is that many monitors are former prosecutors and still retain a prosecutorial mindset.

Stern believes that all of these concerns can be handled if not fully alleviated, through thorough discussions with monitor candidates. Stern noted that one of the areas a company needs to be asking during the monitor selection process is what is “the approach that the monitor is going to take? What’s the approach in a meeting or an interview with a mid-level employee in a branch office. Is that person going to feel as if they’re under attack or are they brought in a to explain all the good things and all the bad things that are going on so that the monitor can basically make some helpful recommendations.”

The key is for companies to have a thorough understanding of the monitorship process, whether it is a post-resolution monitorship where the monitor is focused on the company’s compliance with its agreement in the resolution document. This understanding comes from discussions, reviewing and negotiating the scope of the agreement and hiring experienced monitors who understand their role and more importantly what is not their role going forward.

For more information on how an independent monitor can help improve your company’s ethics and compliance program, visit our sponsor Affiliated Monitors at www.affiliatedmonitors.com.