PwCs State Of Compliance 2014 Survey

More Companies Recognize They Need to Emerge into the 'business of Compliance'

Compliance is at a tipping point, according to the fourth annual State of Compliance 2014 Survey released today by PwC US.

PwC Compliance is at a tipping point, according to the fourth annual State of Compliance 2014 Survey released today by PwC US. Today’s Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) are in a position similar to that of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) 15 years ago, and they face a comparable opportunity and challenge: how to become a more strategic partner in the organization; a vital member of the C-suite.  Survey findings show the role of the CCO has gained more prominence over the last decade and is evolving rapidly.

As the CCO’s role further evolves, compliance will become more integrated with business performance and CCOs will assume a more strategic role.  Overall, the future of compliance depends on defining not just the compliance function, but also specifically the organization’s desired role for the compliance chief,” said Sally Bernstein, principal, PwC. “It’s difficult to be ‘chief’ in the current environment, but more companies recognize they need to get into the ‘business of compliance,’ and are working towards that goal.”

The results of the survey show that compliance officers have been tasked with an increasing number of responsibilities, asked to manage a complex variety of compliance risks and exceeded expectations in many areas.  Despite sometimes having a shortage of resources, CCOs have often achieved successes within their companies.  The business and regulatory environment, however, is becoming more complex and CCOs are expected to deliver better information to help executive management identify and manage organizational risks.

“There is an increased focus on compliance as a business-enabling function and a growing interest in the topic overall.  This is clearly demonstrated by this year’s survey participation rate which grew 35 percent to over a thousand respondents from under 800 last year,” said Andrea Falcione, managing director, PwC. “PwC sees the increase in survey participants as an indication that many companies are using this study as a benchmarking exercise to help determine their ongoing compliance program needs.”

According to PwC, to assume a more strategic role in their organizations, CCOs should engage with the business in more meaningful ways. PwC recommends that emulating the behaviors of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to achieve a similar evolution can be beneficial for CCOs, suggesting that CCOs exhibit the following behaviors: cultivate strong support of the CEO; maintain close working relationships with business leaders to drive understanding; leverage innovation ideas from other companies and functions; understand the organizational strategy and the broad range of risks associated with that strategy; and, recognize that compliance skills must be an enterprise-wide capability.   

Survey results show corporate compliance staffing and budgets are trending up across the board. For the majority of companies surveyed, compliance budgets and staffing are increasing or staying at the same level across all industries. The survey also finds that organizations with more mature compliance functions, which are typically more regulated, tend to have larger budgets and staff than less regulated companies.

“As companies grow their corporate compliance functions, we hope to see a shift in representation within the department. We recommend that, in today’s increasingly complex business and compliance environment, compliance departments be staffed by cross-functional teams encompassing different skill sets such as financial, operational or technology backgrounds, as opposed to homogeneous teams of people with legal (or similar) backgrounds,” added Falcione.

Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • Heavily regulated sectors, such as financial services, are more likely to have a CCO (86 percent) than less regulated sectors (54 percent), such as retail.
  • When CCOs also have other roles in the organization, devoting enough time to compliance responsibilities is a challenge.
  • Use and impact of data analytics is growing, both within compliance and in the business as a whole.
  • Some less commonly used measures may provide a more complete picture of the state of compliance. For example, more innovative and data-driven methods can be taken, such as analyses of customers’, employees’, investors’ and other stakeholders’ social web content.
  • The shifting landscape around social media will require agile response and speed in both social media use and in related policy management.
“Like any integral member of the C-suite, CCOs are — and should be — viewed as critical to executing the organizational strategy. The challenges of being chief are enormous and for CCOs the opportunities have never been greater,” concluded Bernstein.

To download a copy of PwC’s State of Compliance 2014 Survey report,

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