Compliance managers establish and enforce policies to ensure their companies comply with any industry regulations and laws that apply to their businesses. Their role is important because non-compliance can lead to financial penalties. Non-compliance may also create public relations problems if customers and investors lose confidence in a company’s ability to run its business properly. In heavily regulated industries, such as health care, financial services and pharmaceuticals, compliance professionals are key members of the management team.
Managers are responsible for ensuring companies comply with two types of regulation: General regulations that apply to any type of business and regulations specific to sectors such as financial services, manufacturing or the media. General regulations include health and safety, employment legislation, diversity, data protection, consumer protection and intellectual property rights.
Compliance managers familiarize themselves with regulations and identify areas of the business to which regulations apply. In a financial services firm, for example, they review practices in departments providing advice to customers or writing policies. They assess the work of those departments and identify scenarios where there is a risk of non-compliance. In a department providing financial advice, for example, they may review records of telephone calls, emails and letters to ensure that employees are complying with regulations.
To maintain compliance, managers create policies and procedures for all activities where regulations apply. They distribute the information to employees and their managers, and arrange training to build understanding and awareness. They also file copies of policies with regulators to demonstrate compliance. They make employees aware of the personal and corporate consequences of failure to follow company policies and procedures. They explain that non-compliance also covers illegal, unethical or improper conduct.
Compliance managers carry out audits and reviews to ensure employees are following policies. If they discover problems, they investigate the case and document the actions they take. They also respond to complaints from customers, regulators or other employees about cases of non-compliance. Depending on the outcome of the investigations, they may review procedures and policies to improve compliance, recommend further training or take disciplinary action in serious case.
Documentation is an important duty for compliance managers. They document all complaints and breaches of regulations and report these to regulatory agencies. They also provide reports for senior management teams to highlight any issues or trends that pose a risk to the company’s business.