Corporate compliance officers, often abbreviated as CCO’s, are facing increasing pressure in fulfilling their job duties. This is especially true for corporate compliance officers who work on Wall Street. The role of a compliance officer is to ensure that employees at a firm are keeping in line with the rules and code of conduct. Recent law enforcement actions have held corporate compliance officers at fault for breaches of law and violations at the company they work in.
The targeting of corporate compliance officers by law enforcement and regulatory agencies is sending a strong message to corporate compliance officers that they can be punished for breaches of law at a company. This had had the impact of people thinking twice before taking on a job as a corporate compliance officer. Financial institutions are also finding it increasingly difficult to find new corporate compliance officers due to the heightened pressure, targeting and increased liability of CCOs.
More than triple the number of corporate compliance officers have left their posts at major banks, since the new rules and attitude towards CCOs took place. Many current compliance officers say they are being unfairly singled out and targeted. Regulators argue that the greater scrutiny of corporate compliance officers will help ensure that they are actually doing their job, and not merely rubber stamping business transactions at a company. The regulators also want corporate compliance officers to be more independent and wield more power when it comes to regulation and reporting fraud and abuse. Right now, they are often overshadowed by higher level executives and CEOs. The regulatory branch and compliance officers are both watchdogs says Andrew Ceresney of the SEC.
A good example of a corporate compliance officer that is doing their job exceptionally well is chief compliance officer Helane Morrison. Appointed the head compliance officer of Hall Capital Partners LLC. in 2007, Morrison has quickly established herself as a trustworthy and independent compliance officer who is not afraid to bring attention to issues she deems important.
Helane has several of the characteristics that a good compliance officer should have. This includes experience, a good understand of the company’s rules, independence and the respect and trust of colleagues. Morrison previously worked as a financial regulator and was the head of the San Francisco branch of the Securities and Exchange Commission. While she was working at the SEC, one of her primary tasks was the ensure compliance with the rules, a job that she now does at her current employer Hall Capital Partners LLC.