The Secret to Gaining Business-Side Support as a Compliance Professional

Support. We all need it, one way or another, but within Compliance it is one of the key requirements we hear most often. Sometimes there is a lack of it, but in recent times and especially now as we face an uncertain “de-coupling” from the European Union the benefits of support hold great significance and power. We feel a solid support structure underpins a successful workforce, allowing how we as individuals and as an industry can maximise the opportunities available, affect change within an organisation and ultimately be successful.

But how does that feeling of support become such a tangible commodity? Prior to the 2008 financial crash, it’s fair to say that the role of a Compliance Officer and its relevance within an organisation received insufficient support and purely existed as a necessary evil. As the industry became embattled in market turmoil, significant breaches of wrongdoing and the huge swathes of regulatory reform were rolled out, that same compliance function became a vital asset, there to guide and support the business and protect its integrity.

For a compliance function, or in fact any function of a global business to be successful in driving change, support must begin at the very top. The Chairman and Board of Directors set a tone and culture that permeates through the business and which for an effective compliance function is imperative. An institution could have the most capable and experienced compliance team in the market but without the support to drive change, culture and strategy, in accordance with an increasingly severe policing by the FCA, its efforts are useless.

But there are two sides to every coin and a Compliance Officer shouldn’t and indeed in most cases doesn’t rely solely on senior management to set the tone – the compliance function is also responsible for driving the risk appetite and its culture. In some cases, educating senior leading figures in the necessary direction of its risk governance framework to remain on the right side of the law is necessary. The Compliance Officer 2.0 is a forward thinking, commercial, collaborative individual who understands the business front to back, its stakeholders and how best to train and educate them in an inclusive way. This ethos will breed a collegiate and supportive culture and break down traditional barriers and reticence to engage.

An unstable macro market and heavy regulation has meant that the bull market trading days and free reign front office we’re accustomed to have been confined to the history books. This has created a trend of business side individuals transitioning in to compliance, turning from poacher to game-keeper and further establishing and strengthening this “bridging the gap” between the business and its compliance workforce. We see this cross-pollination from other teams such as audit, risk, and legal further enhancing and supporting the overall aim of the compliance team.

As change has now become the new norm, constant support is necessary as the volume and pace of regulatory change remains substantial, the demands of internal compliance resource will be stretched and over-worked. With a dearth of talent and numbers in the hiring market, support of the current team is essential in allowing all areas of any institution to be effective. At Fides Search we are constantly asking ourselves how we can support our clients and each other within the business as we work in uncertain times, but also times of new growth and opportunity.

We would be delighted to hear your comments and thoughts around this topic – if you would like to discuss further, please contact author Barrie Lee at

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