In the ever-evolving landscape of the financial services industry, compliance has become a huge concern – and a huge drain on time and resources. With an increasing number of regulatory and supervisory requirements, banks and other institutions are grappling with the challenge of ensuring and demonstrating full compliance – and, where this has not been achieved, the steps that are being taken to address it. To tackle this complex issue efficiently, firms are starting to realise the advantages of a properly structured, project management style approach, with full leverage of smart tools and strategies.
The changing face of compliance
In recent years, compliance in the financial services sector has witnessed a significant transformation, largely driven by the evolving world we live in. Several factors contribute to this shift, including the rise of hybrid working environments, digital transformation with the integration of artificial intelligence, the growing emphasis on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and the demand for greater accountability. These developments have led to an increased burden of compliance for financial institutions, adding to the overall cost of maintaining regulatory adherence.
Why a resource-intensive approach isn’t the solution
As compliance requirements surge, many firms fall into the trap of deploying more resources to tackle the problem. This often involves hiring additional personnel, creating new teams, and relying on external consultants. While these efforts may temporarily address compliance concerns, they do not address the root cause of the issue. Simply throwing more resources at the problem is not a sustainable solution, and it can lead to inefficiencies and unnecessary expenses.
The project management approach to compliance
The most effective way for financial services firms to proactively manage and stay ahead of compliance challenges is to embrace a project management mindset. Adopting this approach allows organisations to plan, execute, and monitor compliance initiatives efficiently, while also prioritising essential elements for success. Overlay this with a well-structured regulatory communications and engagement approach – with dialogue and transparency at its core – and you have the framework for a far more efficient and flexible approach to compliance monitoring and reporting.
Key components of a project management approach to compliance
- Compliance Management System (CMS): a robust CMS acts as a centralised hub for all compliance-related activities. It streamlines workflows, tracks deadlines, manages documentation, and facilitates collaboration among different teams involved in compliance tasks.
- Risk Assessments and Mitigation Processes: thorough risk assessments are essential in identifying potential compliance vulnerabilities. By understanding the risks, firms can implement appropriate mitigation strategies and allocate resources efficiently.
- Compliance Reporting: regular and transparent compliance reporting ensures that all stakeholders are aware of firms’ adherence to regulatory requirements. Accurate and timely reporting enables proactive decision-making and honest, timely regulatory communication.
- Transparent Data and Live Progress Updates: real-time access to compliance data and live progress updates allow firms to identify bottlenecks and make necessary adjustments promptly. This level of transparency enhances accountability and enables timely corrective actions.
Individual and team responsibilities:
At the core of effective compliance management lies individuals’ and teams’ own responsibilities. Everyone within an organisation should understand their role in achieving compliance goals, and how their own activities enable others to fulfil their responsibilities. Having a full picture of this dynamic is vital, and without doubt will actively contribute to the overall effort.
The ever-changing regulatory landscape in financial services demands a strategic and proactive approach to compliance management. Merely adding more resources to address the increasing burden of compliance is not a viable long-term solution – and, in fact, can hinder instead of help the effort. Instead, firms must adopt a project management approach, integrating smart tools, and instilling a culture of responsibility and accountability at all levels. By doing so, they can navigate the challenges of compliance and ensure sustainable regulatory adherence in a rapidly evolving industry.
By Gregory Nardiello and Helen Greenwood | Optimisers