Value Partner – the NexGen Compliance Officers!

It is said that we must keep updating our skills else we run the risk of becoming obsolete! Compliance professionals are no exception to this, and they must focus on continuous development and evolution.

Just a few years back Compliance officers were looked upon as being enforcers. This led to officers being more authoritarian or at least their perception has become such. In many organizations that remains the case. As organizations and regulations mature, the ‘ask’ from compliance officers has also become different.

In today’s world, compliance officers need to become Value Partners. We have all heard the term ‘Business Partners’ which has considerably helped in changing the perception of compliance officers from an ‘Us vs. Them’ team to ‘We are helping protect the company’ team. But becoming a Value Partner is the next logical step in evolution where the perception of the officers become ‘Together we can drive sustained growth’.

To better explain, let’s take the example of Rally Car Races –

Dhaval Mehta
  • Years back Compliance officers would play the role of ensuring the cars follow the rules and stay on course but from a distance.
  • In business partnering mode, the compliance officers provide timely feedback on the course to ensure that not only rules are followed, drivers stay on course, but also they can take advantage of certain zones to overtake competitors and improve chances of winning. Again, this is done from a distance, but with the use of appropriate communication channels at intervals.
  • In Value Partnering, Compliance officers become the co-driver themselves, who ensure that cars not only stay on course, follow all rules but also actively engage real-time to ensure all zones can be used to gain an edge over competitors and throttle better. The aim is not losing any opportunity to progress and overtake!

So, how can Compliance Officers become Value Partners? Here are some elements to think about:

  1. Developing Business Acumen

  2. All compliance officers must develop commercial skills. They must understand Financial, commercial, strategy, and marketing terms. This will help them position the opinion better and prioritize Compliance goals in line with Commercial & Brand objectives. In simple terms, if you do not understand the terms – BOI, Topline, Margin, Market Growth, Market Share, etc. start reading!

  3. Defining Objectives Together

  4. All compliance officers must work with commercial and brand teams to define objectives together. This helps in ensuring that the top focus areas of all teams are aligned with each other and all teams work in unison.

  5. Driving Industry Leadership

  6. All Compliance officers must represent the organizations in industry forums, associations, and congresses. An active external engagement drives the reputation of the organization and supports its vision. Industry leadership is not only based on commercial parameters, but also on thought leadership! Compliance officers can help create an important positioning of the organization as thought leaders which contributes immensely to brand value!

  7. Conversations Supported by Numbers!

  8. It is imperative that we start building objectivity in the operation of compliance officers. It is important to drive conversations backed up by data points either coming from within the organization or from industry and other companies. Periodic benchmarking and risk assessment exercises contribute heavily to this parameter. A value-centric compliance team can correlate multiple staggered data sets like employee surveys, risk assessments, audits, training, etc. to drive conversations that people across the board can relate to and assimilate rather than providing subjective and less concrete opinions.

  9. Risk Appetite

  10. Business Ethics go hand in hand with Legalities! Market regulation is also a reflection of its growth, experiences, and evolution! Hence there are differences in the corruption perception index of different countries. A compliance officer must be exceptionally aware of the risk appetite of the market regulations to guide efficiently the commercial teams through the grey areas. There will be opinions where different risk-based approaches should be discussed. A matrix of risk vs. impact based on internal and external experiences should be the guiding factor for initiatives rather than being conservative all the time.

  11. Persuasion Skills

  12. Compliance officers must be ardent & top of the line influencers in organizations. Reverent, transparent and vivacious are the traits of Value Partners. This helps in becoming a driving force that strengthens the organization on both commercial and compliance fronts as these go hand in hand in today’s environment! In a nutshell, Compliance officers must have impeccable ‘Selling Skills’ too.

  13. Scenarios 360!

  14. Compliance officers must be able to bring in a 360-degree assessment to the table. Think of as many possible outcomes and variables before providing opinions. These must also be timely! With enough experience and critical thinking, Compliance officers must think not one but two steps ahead – the first step being commercial goals and the second being risk mitigation/protection.

    It is true that one or more of the elements listed above may be something compliance officers are practicing. However, when officers embody and showcase all the above, they became trust Value Partners. The list is not exhaustive! These are just a few of the many elements that we can implement in our work. I would encourage all Compliance leaders to run a workshop and gather thoughts from peers, teams, stakeholders, and even other compliance officers on listing all elements that can help compliance officers drive sustained growth and value for the sector they operate in. Good luck!

    Written by:

    Dhaval Mehta
    Deputy General Manager, Business Ethics and Compliance, Lupin (IRF)