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By Paula Cristina Spirandio, Compliance Manager, Gunvor Group
In my almost 14 years career as a compliance professional, working across the industry from banks, oil majors, to trading houses, I learnt a few valued lessons with regards to what it takes to cause a change in a firm’s culture.I believe that, above all, compliance must be owned collectively; everyone is responsible for compliance, from reception to senior management, and consultants representing the firm. However, the most valuable of lessons has been the fact that compliance, in order to be effective and make a change, must cascade from the top down. A good culture of compliance must be perceived and lead from the top. Undoubtedly, firms with good leadership tend to have better reception of compliance. Good leadership understands and grasps the fact that compliance is not and should not be seen as a “necessary evil”. They understand that compliance is a long game, one that pays off at the end, and it can give you a commercial advantage edge over all. When compliance is championed by the top, employees are more likely to accept it, pay attention to it and follow it. This is achieved through compliance being brought at the beginning of every transaction, of every deal, matter, meeting, instead of in the middle of it or at the end of it. Compliance must be seen at the table, not as a show-stopper but as a business enabler and partner, guiding the business to take the right steps, even though at times you will have to stop and walk away from businesses that do not withhold the firm’s standards. Compliance is the challenger, the business sparring partner. I remember the reporting of a newspaper over a firm’s recent fine that mentioned that it would take at least another decade to make back the profits the recent penalty had cost the firm.
Undoubtedly, Firms With Good Leadership Tend to Have A Better Reception of Compliance