As business functions in financial services have become more complex and are increasingly delivered across digital channels, the demand for compliance support has been rising.

Accenture’s 2016 Compliance Risk Study—based on a survey of over 150 leading compliance officers at banking, capital markets and insurance institutions across the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific—shows changes and improvements to the compliance function are necessary in the face of these growing demands.

The study identified several emerging trends in compliance, as well as in the methods with which compliance officers believe they can offer more tangible, sustainable outcomes in the evolving ecosystems of financial services.

An overwhelming majority (80%) of FS compliance officers participating in the study believe they must take a more active role in front-line activities.Changes to compliance function imperative in the evolving world of financial services

They believe the compliance function should take a stronger role in front-office processes such as product design, sales and distribution, or for example, advising the front office on the risks of originating new business with politically exposed persons.

The study also identified two key areas of focus for FS compliance officers: 1) The availability of the right skills to monitor the changing risk landscape, and 2) Effectively deploying new tools. Almost half (44%) of respondents see skill development as critical to building a successful compliance function in the next 12 months.

Changes to compliance function imperative in the evolving world of financial services

Compounding the challenges is the stark reality that the compliance function continues to operate with a data and technology architecture that lacks the standards required to manage the emerging risk landscape. About two-thirds (67%) of Accenture 2016 Compliance Risk Study respondents view improvement to systems and adoption of new tools as key changes required for compliance within the next 12 months.

Changes to compliance function imperative in the evolving world of financial services

As more compliance organizations improve their operations using fewer resources, many are turning to digital solutions and adopting industry-leading technology. The Accenture study found that a majority of compliance officers believe process automation will be a key enabler for improved use of resources for their function.

Changes to compliance function imperative in the evolving world of financial services

Compliance officers need to chart a path to keep pace with the growing demands and to reaffirm the function’s strategic positioning within the changing landscape of financial services. Here are the main guidelines for improvements to the function:

  • Reassert and clarify the role of compliance, specifically in relation to the front office. Being more proactive with these types of contributions should allow compliance to better illustrate to a CEO the value it can add to the business.
  • Value and incentivize the development of compliance talent.
  • Improve resource utilization.
  • Prioritize the development of high quality data and technology architecture.

Now is the time to create a forward-looking plan that will help build the compliance function of the future.

To learn more, register to download the report: Compliance at a Crossroads: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

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