The Role of Compliance Professionals

The primary responsibilities of compliance professionals are founded on the social and business expectation that organisations will be managed in a way that meets, as a minimum, the legal requirements, but more broadly the organisation's codes, values and legitimate stakeholder expectations. Compliance management systems form one of the core platforms for strong corporate governance.

The Compliance Professional's responsibilities are:

  • Primary responsibility to the Board to ensure that the organisation has a compliance management framework that is effective and efficient and deals with key compliance risks to the organisation.
  • A responsibility to Senior Management to assist them in understanding the regulatory and legal obligations from a practical perspective, identify risks and develop appropriate management systems and operational procedures to deal with those risks.

If there is a conflict between compliance requirements and business objectives, it is the compliance professional's responsibility to objectively assess the commercial and legal risks of non-compliance and ensure that the Board and Senior Management are advised of these risks. It is the responsibility of the Board and Senior Management to determine how the compliance risk is to be managed. There should be an independent reporting line between the Board and the Compliance Professional to assist in escalation of these types of issues.

Whilst the compliance professional may be responsible for the compliance framework, compliance is the responsibility of all employees but the Board.

The key objectives of a compliance professional in relation to their organisation are as follows:

  • To assist the Board and the Senior Management in the development of an organisational culture that proactively supports compliance activity and to provide current information to the organisation about the "philosophy" of compliance practices and how it is being implemented within an organisation.
  • To design and assist in the establishment of a compliance management framework that:
  • identifies relevant compliance requirements and understands the risks involved;
  • translates the compliance requirements into policies, procedures and controls;
  • ensures appropriate levels of staff knowledge about compliance requirements;
  • monitors the effectiveness and efficiencies of compliance procedures and controls; and
  • provides relevant and appropriate reporting procedures for compliance issues.
  • To provide commercial and practical insight into regulatory and legal compliance requirements that align with business objectives and to generate flexible and innovative solutions to achieve compliance requirements within the operational context.

Compliance professionals come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. Many have legal and accounting degrees, but this is not a prerequisite.

ACI has developed an Accreditation and Professional development Framework that develops the skills and knowledge of an individual to effectively overtake a compliance role.