Over this five-part podcast series, I have visited with Vin DiCianni, CEO and founder of Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (AMI) as a retrospective of the company’s first 15 years of existence. AMI sponsored this podcast series. This podcast series is much more than simply the history of AMI as it details the rise of independent monitors in the US at multiple levels: the federal government, state agencies and local authorities as well as internationally. AMI has been at the forefront of not only the use of independent monitors but also the dramatic growth of the compliance and ethics profession over the past 15 year. This podcast series is then a history of both the rise of independent monitors as well as the government’s embrace of corporate compliance and ethics programs. In this concluding Episode 5, I ask DiCianni to reflect on where AMI has been, where it may be going and what he is most proud of on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the founding of AMI.
There have been a couple of themes articulated by DiCianni over this podcast series. One has been the independence and integrity of AMI throughout its history. In 2004 and the early days of AMI, these were the two things that AMI had to sell to a wide variety of stakeholders, from regulators to white collar defense lawyers to companies. DiCianni stated, this has “been something that has been very conscious on our part, to maintain our independence. We are not a law firm so we don’t compete with other law firms. We’re not investigators, so we’re not doing the legwork part of the investigation. We are not expert witnesses. We have stayed in, I’ll call it, our swim lanes.” This has allowed AMI to focus on one thing and one thing only, which is to provide “great independent monitoring services and to providing proactive assessments that use the skills that we’ve learned as monitors, to meet regulatory requirements.” This “professionalism, integrity, independence, which is in our bloodstream has helped us greatly.”
Equally interesting has been the evolution in the thinking of the regulators around the role of an independent monitor. When the role began in the past decade it was very much about regulatory compliance. This evolved to legal compliance, eventually moving to ethics-based compliance. Now with the Benczkowski Memo, it is proactive compliance.
I asked DiCianni what he was most proud of from the creation of AMI in 2004 up through the 15th anniversary. He said there were three things. The first is that he was able to take an idea, the need for an independent monitor, and germinate it into an ongoing, successful and viable business concern. He stated, “I know the one thing that sort of stands out to me is the fact that I was able to take an idea that I had and it just was rolling around in my head for those years and to be able to put it into the form of a company. From there I was able to create a brand for the organization. I’m very proud of that and that’s something that I can take to my grave and say I did something that sort of made a difference.”
The second was through the work of AMI, DiCianni has helped not only companies become more robust around ethics and compliance but AMI has helped them become better run organizations. He said, “the fact that we really have helped a lot of companies. We’ve just wrapped up a few matters, and we get these unsolicited comments by our clients and when they say you’ve made, we didn’t want to have a monitor, but you made us a better company. That makes you feel great. It really does. Because we do provide great services. We do try to meet that mandate of helping the company get better. And when you do that, that’s been very fulfilling.” The final thing that DiCianni mentioned was the people of AMI. He said, “The last thing that I’m proud of is that I have a remarkable team of people. I have a great team of people dedicated and passionate about the work that we do. So that makes me very proud. We never know what the next day is going to bring. And so there’s a level of uncertainty, which is a good thing because you never know what the next case could be. So again, Tom, it’s been a great 15 years and I’m really looking forward to more of this.”
The story of DiCianni and the history of AMI demonstrates that innovation can come in many ways, shapes and forms. DiCianni and AMI led the way by creating a business model centered around independent monitorships. It continues to do so today.
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.