In this special five-part podcast series, I visit with Thomas Sehested, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Valerie Charles, Chief Strategy Officer, and Peter Chang, Head of Customer Success, from GAN Integrity, Inc. (GAN). Throughout this series, we consider how the effective use of technology can drive not only a more effective, operationalized compliance program but make your business run more efficiently. In Part II, I visit with Charles on her journey from legal to compliance to tech.
Charles practiced law as a white-collar defense lawyer before moving in-house as a global compliance lead. Now she is the Chief Strategy Officer at GAN. It is somewhat unusual for a lawyer/compliance professional to move into a tech company which specializes in the compliance space. I was interested in what caused her to make this move. She related that she has always been curious about the use of technology in the practice of law and in the compliance profession. She said that her in-house compliance role demonstrated the inefficient use of her time. She was performing many administrative tasks which she felt could be handled more quickly with a tech solution. Charles stated, “for that reason when I bumped into the GAN folks and realized what they were doing a, it made a lot of sort of natural sense to me.” She then had a “now or never” moment and decided to jump into the tech side of compliance with both feet.
She related that many in-house compliance professionals are spending time chasing people to do things that people could be chased to do by technology. I asked Charles about some of the tasks she observed that lent themselves to a tech solution. She said it could be “rolling out a new policy, circulating the internal approvals to get that policy or that procedure approved. It could be vetting a third party or more often reinventing a third party at a predetermined frequency. It may be keeping up with a lot of administrative deadlines and then exercising the activity you are supposed to at that time.”
But the reality is that most compliance professionals would much prefer to spend their time strategizing about what they’re doing at a more macro level. Many of the tasks she articulated not only take up too much administrative time but keep folks from working on more significant tasks such as longer-term strategic issues. Charles said that one of the things that intrigued her after her move from compliance to tech was her shift in focus of how to use technology in a best practices compliance program.
While in-house, Charles tended to view technology as a tactical solution to a compliance issue. She did not see it as a strategic solution and frankly did not understand the power of tech in compliance. However, after her move to GAN she began to see how technology can bring a much larger strategic focus to compliance, in such areas as a compliance tech solution integrated into the company’s overall risk management strategy, getting integrated reporting with the entire infrastructure of the tech solution tied to corporate structures.
We explored how Charles perceives that technology has changed the way(s) she considers compliance. She began by noting how much more advanced and mature the financial sector has been in developing and embracing tech than compliance. This extended to corporate financial disciplines so that now there are integrated standard bearer platforms. Good technology can import and export data easily that allows greater movement of information with more transparency between business units. She noted that Human Resources (HR) has also benefited greatly from tech solutions.
She contrasted those examples with the corporate compliance function, which she believes has been hamstrung by the lack of integrated tech solutions. Tech for compliance has been fragmented. Typically, it has been the norm for a compliance professional to go to one vendor to purchase technology to roll out policies and procedures, another vendor for e-learning and surveys and yet another to register conflicts of interest, gift giving and receiving. Of course, vetting your third parties is another set of vendors, as is hotline and case management software. She stated, “if you can’t tie together the critical components of the program into one integrated system that talks to each other and can easily be checked out or have data flowing to and from the other business units, you’re kind of still an odd guy out.” If there was such a tech solution, it would elevate the compliance profession.
As tech has moved to cloud-based solutions, there is the ability to integrate many of these functions. When this can be accomplished, it will allow a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance professional to review consolidated data and reporting. Charles concluded when that occurs, “the evolution of compliance technology will match the evolution of the importance of the field itself.”
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