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Risk Management

Understanding Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance
Mar 30, 2021
3
Minutes

Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing risks in an organization. In times of uncertainties, the organization looks to risk managers to make crucial decisions about risk management and mitigation. Risk officers are required to bring all stakeholders on the same page and decide on the organization's risk appetite. Risk appetite and risk tolerance are the two essential concepts in risk management around which misconceptions and confusion are prevalent.

What is Risk Appetite?

Risk appetite is referred to as the degree of uncertainty or the level of risk an organization or individual is willing to accept in pursuit of achieving its objectives. If the organization is ready to take on significant risks, then its risk appetite is considered high. If an organization does not want to confront a situation that will affect the company's revenue and want to play safe, then the organization's appetite is supposed to be low.

What is Risk Tolerance?

Risk tolerance is the degree of risk that an organization can withstand. For example, if the management decides that the organization can take the financial risk up to 250, 000 USD, then the tolerance level is agreed about that much amount. Once the risk appetite and tolerance level has been defined, the risk managers can evaluate whether the existing risk framework is adequate. They need to adjust risk management strategies to keep the risks within the risk appetite.

A great understanding of risks and understanding about effectiveness of controls can add value to an organization. VComply’s risk management software provides a centralized system to determine and maintain a register of potential risks for the organization, and evaluate the impact of the risks, and implement controls for the treatment and mitigation of risks. Contact us to learn more about how VComply can help you manage your risks.


Devi Narayanan
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What Are Key Risk Indicators?
Mar 25, 2021
4
Minutes

In the modern-day market and workplace, risk is a part and parcel of business operations. Considering the shift to remote working, threats and potential vulnerabilities are ever present, which is why risk management is now a top priority. As a matter of fact, in 2021, General Data Protection Regulation fines rose by around 40%. Big names like the Marriott and British Airways incurred fines of $23.8 million and $26  million, respectively, for data breaches. This is the cost of poor risk assessment and management controls in today’s economic climate. Thankfully, auditors and risk management teams can get ahead of such problem areas with clearly defined key risk indicators (KRIs). 

 

Much like key performance indicators, KRIs offer invaluable insight for any organization. In this case of British Airways and Marriott, it is data that caused the potential weak spots of operation. In a competitive, fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, having clear KRIs is what helps a company work toward its goals without incurring the sting of noncompliance or breaches. However, simply establishing these indicators isn’t enough. 

 

Even with a well-established KRI framework, there are challenges the company may still face. For instance, a common misconception is that KRIs are a plug-and-play fix to risk management and control. This is far from the truth when in fact, it is a system that constantly evolves to complement the company’s goals. Moreover, there is a serious lack of understanding concerning the relationship between KPIs and KRIs, which can be damaging. 

 

For more insight into KRIs and their role in bettering business practices, read on. 

 

How are KRIs defined? 

Key risk indicators are metrics used to measure how risky any given activity is, especially when it concerns business objectives. This is a quantifiable approach to risk identification and monitoring that provides invaluable information needed for risk mitigation. Basically, KRIs help predict risks through data and is an effective way of establishing controls to prevent future exposure. 

 

However, for KRIs to be as effective as intended, there are some conditions they have to meet. For instance, KRIs should be: 

  • Quantifiable and represented in standardized metrics
  • Informational, thus providing relevant information about a given risk and its control 
  • Comparable to ensure trends can be tracked over any period of time

 

All things considered, KRIs are meant to comprehensively answer the question, ‘What factors can prevent the company from achieving its goals?’ This is the most basic, and simultaneously the most profound, objective of this tool. 

 

Why are KRIs important? 

KRIs form an integral part of any operational risk management framework and it serves several other purposes too. Some of the main reasons why KRIs are important are that they: 

 

  • Create a culture of objectivity in risk management practices
  • Establish benchmarking, thus offering perspective
  • Quantify risks and their potential for negative outcomes 
  • Enable risk monitoring and timely enforcement of control protocols
  • Help identify exposure relating to active risk trends
  • Provide key personnel with relevant alerts in advance
  • Allow teams to design and implement effective risk responses

 

What are the types of KRIs? 

There are several different types of KRIs and not all required for building an effective framework. In fact, for better management, it may be wise to use KRIs that best suit the industry, thus allowing for more detailed risk analysis across the board. Ultimately, these indicators should align with both internal and external factors to offer maximum insight. 

 

Here are some of the most common KRI types to be aware of. 

Operational KRIs:

Closely linked to operational risk and the factors that cause such losses. Generally, operation KRIs could range from ineffective internal controls to process inefficiencies, internal failures, leadership changes, and changes to a given entity's strategic goals. 

 

Human resource KRIs:

These KRIs are most commonly utilized by HR departments or companies that deal with staffing and recruitment. Common KRI options include labor shortages, high staff turnover, low staff satisfaction or low recruiting conversion. 

 

Technological KRIs:

Tech-related KRIs are very common across most industries. These KRIs measure system failures, data breach incidents or regulatory changes. 

 

Financial KRIs:

Such KRIs are common amongst banks, CPA firms and other such entities. External KRIs include regulatory changes, economic crashes or others, while internal measures include acquisitions, budget changes or changes in strategic goals. 

 

What should the ideal KRI roadmap look like? 

While most companies will, and should, have varying KRIs, there may be ground for commonality when discussing its implementation. KRIs must be linked to company strategies and enforced systematically across systems. This is where a roadmap can help, as it offers guidance. 

 

Here is an example of what a high-level roadmap should look like. 

 

  1. Developing the framework
  2. Providing staff with training on KRIs
  3. Conducting workshops for all functional units
  4. Finding the primary KRIs for the company 
  5. Establish tolerance levels for KRIs
  6. Tracking and reporting KRIs
  7. Creating remedial protocols for breaches
  8. Adding controls and improving on them as needed
  9. Reassessing and reviewing KRI inventory

 

What are the challenges faced when developing a KRI framework?

While the principle of creating KRIs may seem quite straightforward, the truth is it is quite a problem for most companies. Some of the common challenges include: 

  • Added resources required to develop the KRI framework
  • Creating a holistic framework without excluding risks
  • Failure to integrate KPIs with the KRIs
  • Inefficiencies in tracking KRIs due to a lack of resources or management tools
  • Accessing credible and objective quantitative data without losing value due to complexity or errors in interpretation. 

 

Considering the inherent dependency on data, right from its collection protocols to accessibility and meaningful interpretation, it isn’t shocking that technology has a crucial role to play in this scenario. Effective KRI frameworks rest on the shoulders of technological tools for optimal implementation. They help eliminate the need for manual input, automate key processes and simplify tracking. Simply put, they offer a great deal of benefits, provided they are well equipped. The VComply GRC software suite is one such provision designed to meet these specific needs. 

 

Make risk assessment, management and mitigation a breeze with this all-in-one, intuitive platform. This tool empowers teams and enables them to operate at maximum efficiency. Risk teams can use it to collaborate freely with the workshop functionality and enforce controls to mitigate losses. To know more about the software suite, contact us online.

VComply Editorial Team
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How to Choose a Risk Management Solution?
Mar 9, 2021
4
Minutes

Gartner research shows that only the better-prepared enterprise firms developed contingency plans much before situations worsened in the wake of the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic. With obvious management and operational risks, and additional cybersecurity risks (there was a 273% rise in cyber attacks in Q1 alone), risk management has become essential for enterprises to both survive and thrive. 


What is Risk Management?

A decade ago, risk management meant property insurance, malpractice insurance or derivative instruments. However, modern businesses have more diverse risks. In the present day, Risk Management is a business strategy that designs a framework for Management of Risks to Reputation, Operations, Legal Management, Human Resources Management (HRM), Security and overall Governance. It involves active management of risks and making the Plan of Action available to stakeholders. If your organization has finally decided to invest in an Risk Management software, here are the questions that you need answers to before taking the next step. 


A Risk Management software is a long-term investment, so make sure it is worthwhile by getting concrete answers to the following questions. 


1. What are your organization's compliance and risk management requirements?

Evaluate these key aspects and rank them in order of priority along with other unique concerns. 

  • Risk register and scoring
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Policy and procedure management
  • Compliance management
  • Built-in regulatory framework
  • Incident management


Make sure you take current and potential future regulatory standards into account and ensure that your chosen Risk Management software can evolve accordingly. 


2. What is the risk management process of the software? 

Once you have determined your specific requirements, evaluate the software's entire risk management process and check if it aligns with your organization's existing procedures. If your organization doesn't have an adequate risk resolution database, you should ideally look for risk lifecycle management as a key process. Features such as real-time risk management and active monitoring are a must. 

Features of our Risk Management software


3. Do its features align with your organization's objectives?

Making a list of non-compromizable features before selecting an Risk Management software would be helpful.  For example, if yours is a small organization where teams are new to risk management, a risk workshop feature would be essential. You need to ensure that the software's pace and wavelength are in sync with your organization's pace and wavelength. 


4. Can it be integrated with existing software?

Look for a system that can smoothly integrate with your ERP, HR, eCommerce, Accounting, point of sale, and other software. An Integrated Risk Management software can help you ensure that management is not carried out in silos and avoided in any department. 


5. Is it a cloud-based or an on-premise-house software?

While it makes more sense for compliance-heavy industries such as pharma and finance, a tech startup might find a cloud solution more feasible because of its scalability and fewer resource requirements. Cloud solutions can free you from maintenance tasks, providing better scope to focus on core business strategies. 


6. Does it have a mechanism to involve stakeholders? 

Internal stakeholders need to be given their rightful say in risk management in the age of inclusion instead of limiting it to top management or a specific team. Choose a tool that allows you to evaluate risks with co-workers and collaborate and communicate well.


7. Does it have active monitoring features?

Risks, especially cybersecurity-related, can strike at any moment. It is crucial to have a good monitoring system that continuously evaluates all controls to mitigate any approaching risk better. 


8. What is the software company's customer service like?

The quality of customer service is as important as the quality of the Risk Management software. Opt for a service that is available 24x7, has highly-skilled support specialists on board, and has a wide knowledge base to guide you. 


In conclusion…

A Risk Management software is indispensable in this day and age, and choosing the right one help your team be more effective.


VComply offers a complete compliance management solution to help you streamline everyday compliance processes with a centrally managed, cloud-hosted system. 

VComply Editorial Team
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What You Need to Know about Banking Compliance
Mar 30, 2021
4
Minutes

Compliance is one of the most important challenges for any banking institution operating in today’s market. Non-compliance has consequences, and in 2020 alone, several banks received major fines amounting to $11.39 billion. U.S. banks Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase paid upwards of $7.50 billion toward this total tally, indicating that even the sector leader isn’t immune. Naturally, any form of negligence within this realm of operation can lead to big losses, especially considering how strict legislation has become in the sector.

Evolution of banking compliance

The banking sector has always had compliance models in place, but it is becoming increasingly common to find banking entities funnel  money into their compliance department. Some assume it is to keep up with the ever-changing compliance environment or to institute more-efficient controls. Whatever the reasoning, one thing is exact, and it is that optimizing protocols to stay compliant is now more of a priority than it used to be. 

 

Going back a few years, the textbook compliance model was simply a stand-in to enforce legal function. In fact, it was maintained mostly in an advisory capacity without much of a focus on risk management or its identification. Such a model may be best suited as another lesson for managers to learn from in today’s environment. With the advent of process automation, wide-spread digitization and globalization, compliance literacy is undoubtedly the need of the hour. 

 

However, even though many banking enterprises, including regional and small-scale entities, have some form of compliance framework in place, there are still a number of important questions that go unanswered. These are pertinent to the big picture, i.e., complete compliance, and the answers help establish effective models. For greater insight and to broaden your understanding on banking compliance, read on.  

 

What are the responsibilities of a compliance department?  

In any bank, the compliance department is the body responsible for ensuring the institution as a whole remains compliant. Its goal is defined, and it is to ensure the bank functions within regulation, thus preserving its integrity and reputation in the industry. In a vacuum, the compliance department is usually tasked to: 
 

  • Safeguard the bank from data theft 
  • Protect against fines imposed by the government
  • Prevent tax evasion
  • Prevent money laundering
  • Identify and analyze risk areas
  • Steer clear of activities that aren’t within the bank’s ethics policy

Besides these, the department may also be tasked with creating a compliance program or policy. This is usually achieved through a joint effort with senior management. The department establishes the general policy while the management establishes the culture of compliance across the enterprise. Some of the best ways this is achieved is by: 

 

  1. Proactively communicating the compliance policy to all personnel in the institution 
  2. Disclosing ethical conduct as bank culture
  3. Standardizing processes

 

The third point is a significant responsibility as it ties into efficient risk management. With a standard process for routine operations like doing inventory, addressing risks, managing problems and offering resolution, the organization becomes a lot more efficient as it acts only on the basis of bank policy. In addition to all this, the compliance department has a responsibility to ensure that customers interact with the bank as per regulation. Any acts committed outside the purview of regulation or may cause the bank to become non-compliant must follow a clearly defined set of rules. 

 

For instance, as per the Office of Foreign Assets Control, banks in the U.S aren’t allowed to process any transactions from individuals and countries that the U.S. has previously sanctioned. Any attempts made must be blocked and reported, failing which, the bank will face serious consequences. All of these responsibilities are handled by a compliance department, and it is clear that having the right tools in place can make all the difference when assessing the true efficacy of any compliance program. 

 

How can banking enterprises stay compliant effectively? 

In an industry where regulations shift regularly, it can be hard to adapt on the fly. But it must happen as being non-compliant, in any sense, is detrimental. Thankfully, to operate within regulation, there are reliable practices you can enforce. 

 

Streamline the risk-and-control framework

It is common practice for banking enterprises to have dedicated teams to put out fires caused elsewhere in the organization. While this works, there is potential for wastage of precious resources, which is suboptimal. A smarter approach would be to implement a control where the risk is managed by the same department causing it. This streamlines responsibility and control performance, even if the control has multiple owners. 


 Manage residual risks

Inherent risk is defined as the risk that exists without considering the external controls. However, residual risks is the risk that remains even after the treatment or in presence of controls and to deal with these effectively, consider these four options:

  1. Risk mitigation: A common practice, usually the go-to in the industry, and it relies on decisions taken by management. 
  2. Risk acceptance: This is when the risk is accepted, and the plan of action is to monitor the risk levels and review the risk periodically to ascertain if acceptance is the best way to manage it. 
  3. Risk avoidance: With such an approach, the banking enterprise avoids engaging with the risk or disengages from it entirely. 
  4. Risk transfer: This involves transferring the risk to another entity such as an insurance company. With such a tactic, the risk of loss is borne by the insurance provider. 

Integrate with risk management governance

This practice is closely linked to establishing more streamlined risk controls and nurturing a company-wide risk-aware culture. In this case, standardized processes are pivotal and everyone is accountable, not just the compliance department. The communication begins at the highest level of management right down to maintenance staff.  

 

What are the best ways to manage compliance costs? 

Because compliance regulations are always changing, it is unwise to respond by creating new protocols or databases to stay compliant. Instead, consider adding your existing processes by making workflow improvements. These should integrate seamlessly and eliminate the need to divert capital to keep up with regulatory reform. Another way to go about it is to leverage the power of technology and automation. This includes tools that can: 

Tools to manage compliance costs
  • Automate data gathering
  • Monitors risks
  • Control data validation 

 

These tools greatly improve operational efficiency while remaining completely compliant with the added bonus of enhanced customer service. One tool that offers these benefits and more is the VComply platform. It offers a fully-stacked GRC suite to simplify compliance and risk management. Armed with the software, you can revolutionize your enterprise’s approach to staying compliant and implementing risk controls. To know more, contact us online.   

Compliance is one of the most critical challenges for any banking institution operating in today’s market. Non-compliance has consequences, and in 2020 alone, several banks received significant fines amounting to $11.39 billion. U.S. banks Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase paid upwards of $7.50 billion toward this total tally, indicating that even the sector leader isn’t immune. Naturally, any form of negligence within this realm of operation can lead to big losses, especially considering how strict legislation has become in the sector.

VComply Editorial Team
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What is Compliance Risk Management?
Feb 23, 2021
5
Minutes

Compliance risks are defined as the risks that result from violations of laws, regulations, codes of conduct, or organizational standards of practice. Compliance risk management is a part of compliance management and it helps identify, assess, and monitor and manage risks that might cause because of non-compliance. Compliance requirements differ from sectors to sectors. The government and regulatory agencies specify rules and regulations based on which companies in a particular sector should do business. For example, banks and financial institutions face the most complicated regulatory environment.  

There are three layers to compliance: Compliance with regulations, standards defined by various organizations and industry groups, and internal policies. The most stringent compliance tier is compliance with regulations. The regulatory requirements are rules that the government impose on organizations. Both federal and state governments define rules and regulations that govern the conduct of companies and how they interact with customers and employees. One of the typical examples of a regulation that a company should publish financial statement every quarter. The second layer of compliance risks are the standards that put forth by international organizations and industry groups. For instance, companies need to follow ISO standards and deliver products and services that meet regulatory and customer requirements. To be certified in ISO series of standards, a company should adhere to the requirements outlined by the International Organization for Standardization. The third layer is the internal policies that an organization establishes to perform efficiently and effectively and to keep up with the regulations.

Understand the risk of non-compliance

Compliance officers need to assess and understand the risk of non-compliance. Some of these risks need to be prioritized and addressed aggressively as they might result in huge fine, reputational damage that companies might not be able to recover from. For instance, the US banking regulators fined Citigroup $400 million on Thursday for "longstanding failure" to fix its data and risk management systems recently. So, the first and foremost step is to understand what your organization’s compliance risks are, how have they become risks, rank risks based on the priority and create a compliance risk management plan to address these high priority risks.

Compliance and Risk management dashboard

Implementing successful compliance risk management programs

Successful compliance risk management programs adopt a risk-based approach to achieve its goals. Compliance officers identify the priority compliance risks and implement controls to address them. It allows the compliance teams to focus on the compliance risks that matter to them the most. They can tailor their compliance programs to make them ready to respond to risks rapidly. VComply is a leading GRC platform that helps meet the demands of compliance professionals by helping them perform risk assessment and implement controls.  

Devi Narayanan
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What Are the Top Operational Risks for Banks?
Feb 23, 2021
4
Minutes

Historically, the banking sector has always been plagued by vulnerabilities and risks. The global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 is an indicator of this fact. Robust risk and compliance management programs and use of technology have helped banks to make good progress on the risk management front. While these control systems and risk management protocols are constantly evolving, operational risk always remains a concern.  

From the ever-present threat of fraud, both internal and external, to the sophisticated cybersecurity risk, banks today, have numerous weak spots. This may be primarily due to the fact that financial entities are trying to stay on par with the ever-evolving digital landscape and this dynamic environment is relatively unexplored. Operational risk has been an independent risk category for just 2 decades now and the shifting sands of the virtual space does banks no favors.

 

Inherently, managing operational risks as a bank is a herculean undertaking. Some of the common roadblocks include:

  • Complexity, due to the involvement of several, diverse risk types
  • Uncertainty between the role of operational-risk functions and oversight groups
  • Uncertainty between the role of operational-risk functions and oversight groups

All these are present in today’s environment and the integration of digitization only opens doors to more vulnerabilities. Even though improved access to data and better analytics has and can be leveraged to improve operational risk management, some of these risks might just be here to stay. For greater insight, here are the top operational risks in banking.

 

Third-party risk

It is quite common for today’s financial institutions to rely on third-party providers for a range of services. These may be employed to better the experience customers enjoy or add to the arsenal of features on offer, but with these advancements comes serious risks. Banking institutes have to vet these providers to ensure that their vulnerabilities don’t spill over to the main enterprise.

 

Going one step further, total responsibility is usually that of the contractor as they are the ones that face the reputational damage that follows a breach. This means, controlling third-party risks also involves evaluating the risks associated with any vendors used by the third-party provider in question. This highlights the sheer complexity of managing operational risks in the banking sector.

 

Internal and external fraud

These are a form  of operational risk that stems from a number of vulnerabilities and poses a threat to the entities’ financial condition, both current and projected. Fraud can arise from either:

  • Failed or inadequate internal systems or controls
  • Human misconduct or error
  • External events

Fraud is mostly intentional, and is carried over long periods of time, sometimes even years. The losses incurred due to these crimes is difficult to determine mainly because it doesn’t stop at knowing the direct financial losses. Other factors such as the loss of productivity, investigation expenses, both cost and time, legal and compliance costs, and loss of reputation also get added into the mix for an even greater capital loss. But, thanks to the new technology, primarily machine learning, there is a way to mitigate such losses.

 

As per data published by McKinsey & Company, a North American bank was able to identify such risks and get ahead of them before it was too late. This bank used advanced-analytics models to monitor behavior and know its risk exposure from its retail salesforce. This method unearthed unwanted anomalies from the 20,000 employees it gathered data from.

 

Digital transformation risk

With the pressure to go digital and keep up with the convenience and simplicity of service offered in the market, banking entities have their work cut out for them. This also applies to FinTech firms looking to give their customers the easiest and quickest experience. But this transformation to the digital sphere isn’t one without security concerns. This type of undertaking has several risks involved, including:

  • Compliance risks
  • Product risks
  • Strategic risks
  •  IT risks
  • Business risks
  • Cultural risks

 Cyber risk

With digitization now taking its place as a mainstay in most sectors, it is no surprise that it comes with its own set of risks. Even despite the proactive risk management protocols or cybersecurity controls in place, phishing, ransomware and other such risks are still a threat. In fact, these risks have become more effective and occur more frequently. Data suggests that such attacks have tripled in the last 10 years and will continue to do so for as long as there is a reliance on digital finance services.

 

To make matters worse for financial institutions, antagonistic governments are known to orchestrate hostile activity around the financial services sector. Crippling these systems causes widespread disruptions and the losses are huge. A report from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute titled, ‘Unlocking the Value of Improved Cybersecurity Protection ’suggests that cyber risks, and the subsequent attacks that follow, are the highest in the banking industry and can amount to a whopping $18.3 million yearly, per company.

Data privacy and management risk

Data privacy and its security is of key importance to the banking sector and it is also a facet that has been closely followed in the news. Part of the reasons for this being the 2020 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, when it comes to data privacy, the problem lies with data management. Considering that most banking entities have their data siloed, there is a gap created between this data and governance processes. This is a base-level vulnerability as AI-enabled systems face crucial data shortages that undermine its function.

 General Data Protection Regulation

 

While banking entities have every incentive to minimize operational risks, this is difficult to sustain. If neglected, banks risk more than just the loss of capital. In some cases, customers lose their trust in the entity and this hurts banks by restricting business or future deposits.

 

Incorporating operational risk management into the overall enterprise risk management framework is a systematic process and is one that must have its own tools and organization. This is where an all-in-one solution like that from VComply offers value. The platform provides a GRC suite that offers effective risk management frameworks and controls, while revolutionizing management of regulatory compliance. This tool enables seamless digital collaboration and gives you real-time risk management solutions.  

 

 

VComply Editorial Team
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What is Risk Assessment Matrix? | VComply
Mar 3, 2021
3
Minutes

An organization needs to analyze risks that might occur and find ways to prevent them or reduce their impact. It helps them to act confidently on essential business decisions. Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks and taking steps to reduce risks to an acceptable level. In first, organizations need to identify and prioritize risks. Once they identify the risks, they need to conduct an in-depth assessment of risks. A risk assessment matrix plays a significant role in risk management. It is an essential tool that helps identify and prioritize risks by evaluating the likelihood of a risk occurring and the severity of each risk if it were to happen. It is a method of improving the visibility of an organization’s risks with an assessment based on multiplying the likelihood that a risk will occur by its impact on the organization.

Risks can also generally be classified into high risks, medium risks, and lows risks. A high level risk has a higher chance of occurrence and can cause significant damage to the organization. A Medium risk has a 50% chance to occur and will cause damage but not too high or low. A low risk has low chances of occurring and will not cause any severe damage. However, in some cases, the chances of the risk appearing might be low, but it could cause severe damage. A risk assessment matrix depicts a visual form of risk assessment with highest level of risks at one end, the lowest level on the other, and medium risks in the middle. It often uses color-coding to represent different levels of risks to identify where to give more attention. 

A risk assessment matrix contains a set of values for a risk’s probability and severity. The following image depicts a 3x3 risk matrix that has 3 levels of likelihood and 3 levels of severity.

Example: 3*3 Risk Assessment Matrix

Benefits of a risk assessment matrix

  1. Identify the risks that should be prioritized
  2. Provide a simple and graphical portrayal of risks
  3. Simplifies areas of risk management process
  4. Identify areas of risk mitigation

A risk assessment matrix is a document that should evolve as your risks evolve. When managing projects, one of the most important factors is analyzing potential project management problems with a risk assessment matrix. If you do not maintain a risk assessment matrix, the risks can create a havoc in your organization. A GRC platform like VComply can help you perform risk management and design internal controls that keep your organization compliant.  VComply provides an uncomplicated way for you to manage compliance and risk, allowing you to assign controls and track them through an intuitive interface.

Devi Narayanan
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What is Cyber Risk and What is Its Impact on Your Organization?
Jan 29, 2021
5
Minutes

Cyber threats have grown from being plausible to probable. With organizations becoming more dependent on the internet, social media, and digitization, exposure to cyber risk has also increased manifold. Today, cyber security is among the top priorities of organizations world-wide simply because a cyber-attack can leave your organization in a dilapidated state – untethered from information systems and unable to provide services, owning a handful of compromised data, and staring at massive reputation loss.

To discover the big picture, consider some recent statistics. IBM reports that the global average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86M. For the healthcare industry, the average cost is almost double, $7.13M. Concurrently, HIPAA Journal reported that 9.7M health records were compromised in September 2020 alone. But it’s not just big businesses that are facing the brunt of cyber breaches, 43% of cyber-attacks target small and medium businesses, notes Fundera.

With cybercrime growing at a compounding rate – 300-600% in recent months – cyber risk positions itself as the biggest challenge to organizations around the globe. Here’s a primer on cyber risk and your organization.

What is cyber risk?

Cyber risk refers to the risk associated with “financial loss, disruption or damage to the reputation of an organization from failure, unauthorized or erroneous use of its information systems,” as per PWC. However, it includes the “the potential of loss or harm related to technical infrastructure or the use of technology within an organization,” according to RSA.

Cyber risk can materialize in varied forms. Here are some examples of cyber risk:

  • Unintentional breaches of security
  • Cybercrime such as the theft and sale of corporate data
  • Cyberterrorism, for instance, virus installation or a denial-of-service attack
  • Third-party vulnerabilities that leave customer data compromised

Cyber risks can be classified according to intent and source:

  • Internal malicious
  • Internal unintentional
  • External malicious
  • External unintentional

What is the impact of cyber risk?

It is worth noting that the classification of cyber risks according to intent and source may not determine the negative impact they have on your organization. For instance, reports have it that 52% of data security breaches boil down to human error and system failure. Another report indicates that 95% of cybersecurity breaches have their source in human error.

The impact of cyber risk can be divided into a few categories:

  • Financial loss: The average cost of a data breach in the USA is $8.64M according to IBM and economic loss can arise from various quarters. You may be unable to provide services or carry out transactions; proprietary information or even money may be stolen; you may have to spend large sums of money repairing your information systems. You may even have to rejig your business operations and find new ways to conduct business.

  • Reputation loss: It can be hard to put a finger on the economic impact of reputation loss but suffice it to say that loss of customer trust can cripple a business altogether. Customers may share confidential information with your business and if this gets compromised you could lose your customer base and see reduced sales. Invariably, you’d have to give up your market position and mend third-party and investor relationships.

  • Legal loss: There are data security laws in place to protect customer data and these require you to adopt certain controls and deploy security measures in case a data breach occurs. In case you are caught off guard, you may have to pay regulatory authorities and other parties in millions of dollars. There are legal costs to bear too, and because of the seriousness of the issue, some organizations buy cyber risk insurance to cover their losses.

The cost of protection is also something that can be added to this list. Building safer information and networking systems takes money and requires the use of vetted software and hardware. The ongoing management of these systems and their maintenance also add to the costs.

How should you approach cyber risk?

In today’s digital age, you cannot avoid exposing yourself to some amount of cyber risk. You cannot avoid digitalization or digital transformation just because you want to avoid cyber risks. It can affect your business growth, revenue expansion, and market consolidation.

Hence, the goal is to navigate cyber risk well.

Firstly, you need to know what your assets are. And what you are trying to protect from intentional/ unintentional cyber risks:

  • Do you store customer data either directly or with a third party?
  • Do you have intellectual property that needs to be protected?
  • Do you possess financial data or contract terms that cyber-thieves would want?

Then, you need to understand what cyber threats you may face, and which assets may come under fire. Cyber threats are not the same as cyber risks. A threat is an event that can exploit a point of vulnerability to damage an asset. When you have linked cyber threats to your assets, you know what cyber risks you have on hand.

With this information ready, you can then proceed to drafting a cyber risk appetite statement. Defining your cyber risk appetite gives you clarity on many fronts:

  • You get clarity on how much risk you are ready to tolerate
  • You know how much you are prepared to spend to mitigate the risk
  • You gain insights into the prioritization of risks that affect your business

How do you manage cyber risks within your organization?

Cyber risk management is an ongoing process that can be broken down into a few key steps:

Identify the risks: Note your assets, threats, and vulnerabilities. For instance, you may have a weak technological infrastructure with employees working from home on personal devices, and this could lead to company data being more vulnerable. Here are some possible avenues of cyber risk: 

  • Opening suspicious emails
  • Using personal devices at the workplace (BYOD)
  • Failing to log out of accounts
  • Using outdated software
  • Not scrutinizing third-party vendors
  • Setting insecure passwords
  • Having weak home Wi-Fi security
  • Possessing weak links due to an IoT ecosystem

Assess the risks: At this stage, you need to analyze the risks in terms of their likelihood and severity. Based on that you can forecast what the impact of the risk may be.

Evaluate and prioritize the risks: This becomes easy if you have a well-defined risk appetite statement. You can begin to answer questions such as:

  • Which risks can the organization do without?
  • Which assets demand the greatest amount of security?
  • For how long can the organization delay taking on this risk?
  • Do the risks align with the organization’s business strategy?
  • What is the organization’s net level of cyber risk?

Respond to the risks: You can modify the impact of a risk by adopting a corrective control. For instance, you can enforce multi-factor authentication for more secure logins, deploy company apps to isolate sensitive data, and adopt a policy for patch/ update management. Exploring the 20 CIS controls can prove to be vital.

Here are some practical ways to reduce cyber risks:

  • Educate your staff
  • Keep software systems updated
  • Draft a cyber security policy and a breach response plan
  • Cut down on data transfers
  • Avoid downloads as far as possible
  • Schedule regular backups
  • Limit access to data by assigning privileges
  • Encrypt your data
  • Invest in a robust cybersecurity system

After treating your risks with controls, you decide to tolerate some cyber risks, terminate others, and transfer the rest to a third party.

Your cyber risk management efforts work best when they tie in with your organization’s risk management framework. Moreover, you should strive for a three-pronged approach of ‘cyber risk assessment’, ‘cyber risk management’ and ‘cyber risk monitoring’. Whether it is enforcement, accountability or the aspect of bringing senior leadership into the game, you can best integrate cyber risk management with your GRC strategy when you have a risk management platform like VComply.

With VComply, you can set in motion cyber risk management lifecycle, invite collaborators to evaluate risks, establish tolerance levels, monitor your risks, assign implement controls to address risks, delegate ownership, and escalate failures, setup alerts and more. This gives you the means to safeguard your organization against internal and external cyber threats in real-time.

VComply Editorial Team
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What Is Risk Mitigation ? And Why Is It Important?
Jan 12, 2021
5
Minutes

Risks are inevitable in business. Businesses must reduce their exposure to risks and find ways to mitigate them to remain competitive in business. Identification and acknowledgement of risks that affect the operations, profitability, security, or reputation of the business is the first step. Developing strategies to mitigate these risks is the next and the most essential step! Risk mitigation is an important step in risk management that includes identifying the risk, assessing the risk, and mitigating the risk.

What Is Risk Mitigation ?

 

Risk mitigation can be defined as taking steps to reduce or minimize risks. When you devise a strategy for reducing prospective risks and working with an action plan, it is important that you choose a strategy that relates to your company’s profile and nature of business.

 

Here's why risk mitigation is important:

 

-      A robust risk mitigation plan helps establish procedures to avoid risks, minimize risks, or reduce the impact of the risks on organizations.

-      It guides organizations on how they can bear and control risks. This helps a business in achieving its objectives.

-      The ability to understand and control risks makes an organization more confident and helps in making the right business decisions.

-      It increases the stability of the organization and reduces its legal liability.

-      It protects people involved and company from any potential harm.

 

Different Types of Risk Mitigation Strategies

 

Let's take a close look at different strategies for mitigating risks:

Risk Mitigation

 

 Accept

Accepting a risk does not reduce the impact of it on the organization. However, risk acceptance is considered as a valid option. Accepting risks involve identifying and analyzing risks and bringing these risks into the attention of stakeholders so that everyone involved are aware of the risks and its consequences. The most common reason for accepting a risk is that the cost of mitigation options might outweigh the benefit.

Avoid

 This is exactly the opposite of the accepting risk. If the risk poses unwanted consequences, the organization chooses to avoid the action that leads to the exposure of the risk. Not starting a project that involves high unwanted risks avoids the risk completely.

 Transfer

 Risk transfer is the involvement of handing over the risk or a part of risk to a third-party. A conventional means to transfer risk is to outsource some services to a third-party. Many organizations outsource payroll, recruitment services to third party. It might involve some drawbacks and take out some control from your organization.

 Reduce

Businesses use this tactic most often in risk mitigation. It may include reducing the probability of the occurrence of the risk, or the severity of the consequences of the risk. If the organization cannot reduce the occurrence of the risk, then it needs to implement controls. Implementing controls should aim at reducing the chances of the risk occurring or finding out the cause for the risks and try avoiding it. Implementing appropriate controls depends on an organization’s decision making process and the nature of the business. One typical example for reducing a type of risk could be using a component tested and available in the market than subcontracting to create the same to a third-party.

 

Creating a Risk Management and Risk Mitigation Plan

 

Risk management and mitigation process consists of identifying, assessing and mitigating risks. There are different steps involved in creating a risk mitigation plan. These include:

 

●    Identify Risks

All the risks must be noted distinctively. This includes every risk big or small, that may harm the organization. The identified risk can be added to a risk register.

 

●    Define and Describe Risks

Define and describe a risk. Describe the intensity of the risk and the areas it will impact.

 

●    Allot Risks

All risks that are identified and described must be forwarded to respective entities to take action on mitigating them. The person handling the individual risk is answerable to the management about it.

 

●    Categorize Risks

There are different types of risks, such as business risks and non-business risks. You can also categorize risks as small risks, medium risks, and high risks. Then, there are risks which you can afford to take and those that should be avoided.

 

●    Minimizing Risks

This is the main part of risk mitigation, which involves taking actions to minimize risks. Appropriate actions should be taken to control risks and dodge them when they come up, so they don't become a barrier in achieving business objectives.

 

Best Practices for Risk Mitigation

Here are some ways businesses can make their risk mitigation strategies more effective:

 

●    Promote Transparency

There should be complete transparency in an entire organization. Even minor miscommunication or misinformation could lead to big problems. Therefore, its important that each step is clearly discussed and known to each stakeholder to mitigate risks.

 

●    Build a Team

Many businesses have experts in their team who deal with risks tactfully and also know the consequences if risks occur. Businesses should appoint such experts to oversee risk mitigation in an organization, and also hold team members responsible for each type of risk.

 

●    Reporting

Regular reporting provides a clear picture of the situation and the actions that need to be taken. Thus, management should encourage all teams to regularly report on the risks they're managing and controlling.

 

●    Evaluate carefully

Evaluation of risks helps you identify which risks might occur, and when and where. This helps you create better risk management plans.

 

●    Share objectives with your team

Each stakeholder must have one common goal: to cut down risks that come their way. No personal interest should be involved. This helps keep everyone on the same page and upholds the business ethics and interests.

Wrapping up  

While risks are an inherent part of every business, risk mitigation helps businesses minimize the impact of certain risks, while acknowledging and accepting others.

VComply provides an effective way for businesses to track and mitigate risk. VComply helps manage and automate the risk management processes such as risk assessment and risk treatment. The best risk mitigation strategies involve maintaining a risk register, regular reporting, teamwork, and planning.

VComply Editorial Team
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What is Operational Resilience?
Jan 7, 2021
5
Minutes

Etymologically, the word resilience has roots in the Latin term resiliere, which means ‘to rebound’. In similar vein, operational resilience describes an organization’ stability to cope with change or misfortune. The ongoing global pandemic, COVID 19 is an extreme form of misfortune, but its impact has been so universal that it has laid bare each organization’s level of operational resilience and sparked renewed interest in the topic.  

Stress, threats, potential failures, disruptions, uncertainty, and change are part of the life of an organization, but one that is operationally resilient has the wherewithal to maneuver through it all. From climate change, power grid black outs, and cyber-attacks to a tainted image on social media and demand-supply disruptions, there are numerous factors that can cause an organization to buckle and crack. A resilient organization has the frameworks and mechanisms to bounce back when dealt the unexpected.

Operational resilience, however, goes further than an organization simply maintaining business continuity or managing risk.

What is operational resilience?

Here are two helpful definitions:

Gartner: Operational resilience is a set of techniques that allow people, processes, and informational systems to adapt to changing patterns. It is the ability to alter operations in the face of changing business conditions. Operationally resilient enterprises have the organizational competencies to ramp up or slow down operations in a way that provides a competitive edge and enables quick and local process modification.

PwC: We define operational resilience as “an organization’s ability to protect and sustain the core business services that are key for its clients, both during business as usual and when experiencing operational stress or disruption.”

The operational resilience definition offered by Gartner places a lot of emphasis on ‘techniques’, ‘abilities’, and ‘competencies’. PwC too focusses on ‘ability’ but brings the end goal in picture, that is, service of the ‘client’.

This article will elaborate more on these themes, while also providing some operational resilience examples.

Interconnected and futuristic

To work within a sound operational resilience framework means to consider risks in a holistic manner. It involves moving away from a vertical and siloed approach to a horizontal and organization-wide approach. This way you aren’t left facing collapsing dominos when one segment of your operations stalls. Similarly, key to the word resilience is the aspect of bouncing back and if your operational resilience strategy focuses on avoiding disruptions only, it is inadequate. Operational resilience is a trait by which your organization can get back to everyday business once a disruption occurs too!

Digital, data and cyber

Today, amid the pandemic, digital adoption is what has kept many businesses running and building a layer of digital resilience can help you put your best foot forward. With more and more touchpoints in the customer journey being digitized, it becomes important to live up to the customer expectation of having always-on services. Issues like server outages can dampen customer confidence.

Digital processes run on data as a fuel and your operations will be only as good as the quality of data you possess. Data resiliency includes aspects like restoring compromised data, preventing data loss, and establishing a sync point in case of a snag.

Alongside digitalization and increased data comes the need for cyber operational resilience. For instance, on 5 March 2020 the US Power Utilities were the subject of a cyberattack that used firewall vulnerabilities to cause ‘blindspots’. The system was resilient enough that actual flow of electricity was not affected. However, this incident shines light on present-day practices that hamper organizational resilience. These include using sensitive apps over home Wi-Fi, storing passwords on home devices, and limited awareness about data privacy.

Client is king

When an organization is in its nascent stages, everything revolves around satisfying the client. At such times, it is quite clear what the firm’s key business processes are, which add direct value to the client. However, as an organization scales, processes become more abstract and even at the C-level, one is not dealing with the client’s needs and aspirations directly, but with other contingencies. While it is required that, for instance, the CIO, COO, and CEO take up different responsibilities, resilience is built when these are ordered to the client’s needs.

This approach makes it easier to identify key products and services, meaning that business continuity planning becomes more strategic and secure when the client is at the center. The goal of a client-centric operational resilience strategy must be to uninterruptedly deliver critical operations, even amidst disruptions.

Human resource

At a certain level, your organization is only as good as your employees. Business staff man several key processes, without which products and services would never reach the client. Factors like employee attrition and wages are perennial issues that threaten business continuity, and hence operational resilience. But in the wake of the pandemic, newer issues such as employee wellness have surfaced. In an increasingly remote-first work environment, HR teams have the tricky task of accepting work from home’s olive branch of business continuity, while knowing that prolonged isolation is a deadly threat to creativity, collaboration, and long-term goals.

Third-party dependency

Whether you have an operational resilience manager or not, possessing a framework for managing third-party relationships that are interwoven with critical operations is a must. This is another way of saying that the client shouldn’t be at the receiving end of issues related to sourcing and other external dependencies. Achieving this includes performing due diligence and risk assessment according to your standards for operational resilience before entering into an agreement.

Governance, risk, and compliance

GRC is integral to operational resilience – and not just because organizations are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of regulatory authorities! A good operational resilience framework includes having a governance structure that can respond to disruptions. Ongoing risk assessment too is crucial to weeding out vulnerabilities and avoiding threats. As mentioned earlier, being resilient means moving away from silos and being more holistic and here, GRC software serves aptly as operational resilience technology.

Solutions like VComply ensure you have a better way to run your business. VComply is a comprehensive platform you can use to govern risks, stay compliant, and implement an operational resilience strategy in a way that you cannot with spreadsheets and binders. With automated reports, integrated workflows, data centralization and more, you can more reliably work towards making your business‘ disruption-proof’.

With a better understanding of what operational resilience is, proceed to define what it means in the context of your organization and grow your business strategically!

VComply Editorial Team
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What is a Risk Register? What are the Key Elements of a Risk Register?
Dec 10, 2020
10
Minutes

Every business has some inherent risks that it must deal with. As the name suggests, a risk register forms a central repository for all risk-related information for an organization. This includes the type of risks, the impact they may have on an organization, and the risk management plans of the company.

In this article, we'll take an in-depth look at what a risk register is, and how it helps companies manage risks.

What is a risk register in risk management?

A risk register is a repository or a document that contains details about potential risks an organization faces. It describes the risk as a whole, the category under which it falls, and the potential impact of the risk. It is an instrument in project management and risk management that helps recognize and mitigate potential risks. It also lists precautionary steps an organization can take to overcome these issues.

The purpose of a risk register is to assemble information about all possible risks in one file, so it becomes easy to assess them, work on them, and resolve them.

What is the need for a risk register?

Here's why a risk register is a necessity for all organizations:

  • Identification of risks

A risk register helps identify the various types of risks associated with a business, enterprise, or project. A dedicated team generally conducts an in-depth investigation of factors that will affect the organization such as weather, resources, or market, and makes a note of these in the register.

  • Analysis of risks

The risk register shows the impact of each risk and when it may occur. This helps organizations be prepared at all times.

The recent pandemic has had a detrimental impact on various businesses such as and travel, restaurants, and physical stores. It illustrates why constantly analyzing and preparing for potential business risks is of utmost importance.

  • Prioritization of risk

Not all risks are equal. Some need instant actions, while others may not pose an immediate threat to the business. Diligently noting down all potential risks helps businesses prioritize risk in an organized manner. Organizations can classify risks as high, low, or medium priority, and deal with them accordingly.

  • Allotment of risks

To manage risks in a better way, organizations can use the risk register to appoint relevant team members to manage potential risks. Without building this level of accountability, it can be difficult to keep track of risks.

  • Useful notes

The risk register also contains issues that have not been recorded before but may also be of importance. This helps ensure that important information doesn't slip through the cracks.

Key elements of a risk register

Here are some key elements that a risk register must contain:

  • Index

This is a place where a risk is identified by its given distinctive number. In every project, many risks are entered in the index, even if it is a small project. This helps easily find risks.

  • Title

The title is a narration of risks. It describes the intensity and nature of the risk.

  • Illustration of risks

This gives a detailed explanation of the risks that are mentioned in the risk register.

It shows us how complex the risks are and which areas they may affect. By reading the description, the stakeholders decide on the steps to be taken to mitigate the risk.

  • Rank

This is the level or the magnitude of the risk. Rank is used to understand how serious the risk is. If the consequences of the risk are dangerous, then it should be ranked as a high priority.

  • Prevention plan

Actions to be taken to avoid risks are stated here. Strategies are implemented to prevent the risk from occurring. Each person in charge of the risk should work on avoiding the risk as far as possible.

  • Status

This shows the latest activities that have been undertaken about a risk. It shows the status as completed or pending, along with corresponding dates.

Steps to create a risk register

Here are the major steps involved in creating a risk register for an organization:

  • Design a risk register

Ensure that the risk register is updated and has the correct format. This will ensure you get all the relevant information and a clear picture of all the levels of risks associated with a project. It will guide your team to get better results.

  • Brainstorm possible risks

Study and evaluate your plans in a granular manner, to uncover even the smallest risk involved that can harm your efforts. Think of ways that the risks can be avoided or at least reduced in impact.

  • Note every detail

The risk register should analyze each risk minutely. It should describe the risk, steps to control it, how to manage the risk if it becomes a reality, and the person accountable for each risk.

  • Enlist risk management experts

With their skills and knowledge, risk management experts can forecast when a risk will appear and what will be its intensity. Some of these experts include investment bankers, and risk and financial analysts. While preparing their risk register, organizations must also seek help from experts to properly identify and evaluate risks.

  • Conduct a hypothetical analysis

The hypothetical analysis is a series of assumptions that may be made in regard to a project. What may go wrong with a project, what will the potential impact be, and what actions can the team take to reduce the impact, these should be part of a hypothetical analysis.

  • Encourage communication

A risk register is not only a tool that records risks and actions to overcome them, but also a communication channel between stakeholders. To make the most of it, a risk register should include varied views and perspectives. Every viewpoint should be considered while taking any decision so that the interest of all the members is intact and unharmed.

  • Keep the risk register secure

While the participation of all members of an organization should be encouraged, the ability to view and update the register should be limited to a few trusted employees. Only a few stakeholders such as owners of the organization and senior-level managers should be provided rights to edit and audit the risk register.

  • Prepare useful summaries  

Senior-level executives may not be able to view every part of the risk register. Thus, a summary can give them an overall picture of the risks involved, and guide them to take necessary actions.

Best practices of monitoring a risk register

Take a look at the best practices while monitoring a risk register:

  • Track progress

Organizations must continually track their progress, concerning risk management.  They must evaluate past actions, present activities, and future goals to ensure the level of risk is kept to a minimum.

  • Collect data

Initially, at the start of the register, there may not be much data available to an organization. As bigger issues start to appear and you gain more experience, make a note of information such as high potential risks, medium risks, and so on. Study your past performance, how you handled risks in the past, and what you can improve on.

  • Create  a risk heat map

A risk heat map helps you assess risks in a meaningful way. It shows you the probability of certain risks and what impact they may have on a project.

Wrapping up

We hope this article serves as a starting point for you to create a risk register for your business. Managing and preparing for risks is quintessential for each business. Once the inherent risks are identified, you can plan and implement controls to mitigate risks.

VComply’s risk management software provides a centralized system to determine and maintain a register of potential risks for the organization, and evaluate the impact of the risks, and implement controls for the treatment and mitigation of risks. Contact us to learn more about how VComply can help you manage your risks.

VComply Editorial Team
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What is Business Continuity Risk ?
Dec 4, 2020
20
Minutes

Business continuity risk refers to threats that disrupt the functioning of a business. These threats maybe any untoward incidents or disasters that negatively impact an organization.

 

There are a number of business continuity risks that make organizations suffer, such as cyber attacks, data breaches, security incidents, fire, flood, transport disruption, and terrorism.

 

Perhaps the best example of business continuity risk is the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic on businesses all over the world. As shops closed down indefinitely and consumers were forced to shelter in place during lockdowns, businesses faced huge losses. A record number of people were laid off, as companies struggled to make payroll or pay rent.

 

For essential services that were allowed to continue such as health workers and food supply managers, it became a matter of huge concern to protect their health and wellbeing. To ensure complete safety of workers, organizations were required to provide them with PPE lists, hand sanitizers, masks, and strictly observe social distancing measures.

 

A business continuity plan helps to mitigate such unforeseen risks, and ensure smooth and efficient functioning of the organization.

Types of Business Continuity Risks

Let's take a look at five business continuity risks that a firm must monitor and control:

1.  Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity attacks area major source of concern for businesses. Network and system damage by hackers not only damages a firm's reputation but can also cause monetary damage.

 

For example, Software AG, a German tech firm, was attacked by Clop ransomware in October 2020. The cyber-criminal gang demanded more than $20 million ransom. The attack disrupted parts of their internal network.

2.  Data breaches

Data breaching refers to releasing or revealing important, private and sensitive information to an untrusted person or environment. In the first half of 2020, there were 540 reported data breaches in the U.S.

 

Some examples of data breaching include loss of USB drives, mobile or computer devices, laptops, and computer networks. Such breaches can put sensitive information regarding the firm and it's customers in the hands of unscrupulous people and cause severe damages to the business.

3.  Terrorism

When terrorism strikes a country or city, it instill a sense of fear and uncertainty in it's residents and the public at large. Employees and organization security forces might be ill-equipped to handle attacks of terrorism. Property damage and business interruption are the most obvious impacts of terrorism.

 

Further, even after a terror attack, tourism and day-to-day life in a country remains affected. It takes a few months for businesses to resume their operations as usual.

4. Fire

Fires generally take place suddenly, without any warning  signs. They often occur due to faulty firm equipment or misuse of organizational tools and instruments.

 

Keeping a fire control plan involving fire brigades, fire alarms and fire extinguishers as a precautionary measure to control fires, is quintessential for businesses of all kinds.

5. Supply chain disruption

Disruption in supply chains is also a big concern for organizations. Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, often lead to such disruption. As a result, the supply network between companies and suppliers weakens and the supply chain suffers.

4 Major Risks of Not Having A Business Continuity Plan

Not having a business continuity plan might be more dangerous for a business than you think.

 

Here are four major risks of not having a well-defined plan to handle business continuity disruptions:

1. Death and Injury

When organizations suffer from natural disasters and other threatening events, it leads to loss of life and brutal injuries to workers, clients, and other individuals associated with the business.

 

This can be prevented by keeping premises under regular inspection, maintaining tools and equipment, and posting warning signs, if combustible or dangerous equipment is being used.

2. Business Failure

Disasters and unexpected incidents also affect and damage business property and goods. After suffering such damage, organizations are generally unable to recover.

 

For example, due to Covid 19, more than 100,000 restaurants have permanently closed this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. Business continuity plans provide better alternatives for businesses to survive even after a disaster.

3.  Reputational Risk

Disasters also affect a company's reputation in a negative way. People’s lose trust in a company and start to view it with a healthy dose of scepticism.

 

For example, a fire may damage a firm’s internal property as well as injure people, which might make the public think the firm is not secure and doesn't take necessary precautions to safeguard it's personnel and premises. This might discourage future clients and employees from associating with them.

 

Likewise, a firm's reputation can also be damaged by data breaches. People's trust towards a firm decreases due to the spread of sensitive data.

4. Loss of data

Loss of essential data not only disrupts business activities but also puts the company's future in jeopardy.

Mitigate Business Continuity Risk: 4 Steps to Create a Business Continuity Plan

To develop resilience as a business and future-proof it's functioning against unexpected disasters and events, businesses must prepare a business continuity plan.

 

Here's a four-step guide to mitigate business continuity risk:

1. Scope and Teamwork

The first step involves putting together a team for implementing a business continuity plan. Management buy-in and commitment to the BCP process should also be established in this step.

 

The firm must clearly explain the key reasons for having a BCP, namely, to protect employees, suppliers, and customers as well as the business operations themselves.

2. Business Impact Analysis

Business impact analysis helps determine the potential impacts of a disruption to critical business operations. The BIA can be facilitated by asking the following questions:

  • Which activities are critical to the core operations of the business?
  • What resources need to be obtained to resume these prioritized activities? This includes both internal and external resources such as vehicles, inventory, human resources, and electricity supply.
  • What is the maximum period of time for which a business might be able to withstand temporary disruption? This identifies the time frame for the prioritized activities to be resumed.

Post this, a firm should assess external risks which may affect a business. This helps establish the types of disasters which an enterprise may face.

 

It's essential to account for all possible disasters a business might face, be it natural, data-based, corporations-based. To get a more accurate assessment, firms should also look at past events and disasters that similar businesses may have faced.

3. Develop Strategies

Information gathered from the business impact analysis should be utilized to develop strategies which help an enterprise tackle an emergency and resume operations efficiently.

 

Strategies must include different types of plans to figure out how the enterprise will function during the time of emergency. Some basic questions your strategy might answer include:

  1. How will customers contact the organization during that time?
  2. How will the organization gain access to electricity and food?
  3. Will the organization be relocated elsewhere?

The business continuity management team is responsible to ensure these strategies are implemented should a disaster strike.

4. Plan Testing

The final step of this plan consists of testing your plan to improve your ability to successfully recover from various unexpected scenarios.

 

BCP testing should be exercised to experiment the effectiveness of your plan.

 

A few pointers to effectively test your business continuity plan:

  • Review plan strategies and ensure each disaster or scenario has been accounted for.
  • Ensure each employee is aware of the significant sections of the plan and their roles in a disaster or scenario. Carry out BCP simulation tests.  These tests include actual recovery actions such as restoring backups and live testing of superfluous systems.
  • Involve vendor partners in your testing process. This will help you attain accuracy in your tests and receive feedback from the vendors on the effectiveness of your plan.
  • Document the results of your testing and implement processes by following up on the results, to improve your BCP.

Wrapping up

Business continuity plans help organizations safeguard their existence as well as retain the trust of their customers and employees. The lack of a well-documented business continuity plan can disrupt the functioning of a business, affect it's employees' physical and monetary health, and in some cases, cause complete business failure.

 

While it's difficult to anticipate when the next pandemic might strike, or when businesses will fully recover from the current one, one thing is clear: failing to plan is planning to fail.

VComply Editorial Team
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COVID Risk Management for Credit Unions
Oct 5, 2020
4
Minutes

Impact of Covid-19

Covid 19 has upended normal life as we know it. Apart from a gigantic impact on the economy as a whole, the pandemic has also put the future of credit unions at risk. In this article, we'll be examining the impact of Covid 19 on credit unions, steps to manage the impact, and a quick checklist for credit unions to manage risk in uncertain times. 


Stay at home orders have resulted in a disruption of local and international economies. Loss of assets, income, and unemployment in turn prevent people from being able to pay their loans. Decreased liquidity, increasing provision costs, and a decrease in loan portfolio income are just some of the negative impacts of the health crisis on credit unions. The resulting institutional stress has led to reduced capital reserves of credit unions. 

Credit unions around the world are now talking about cash flow management, liquidity management, and spending considerable time restructuring loan implementation. Some other measures credit unions are taking include managing and analyzing non performing loans, dealing with regulatory constraints, and gradually moving towards collections at some point in the future.  The best course of action for credit unions is to focus on asset recovery, building their reserves, and mitigating risks as far as possible. 

Risk Considerations for Credit Unions During Covid-19 

Here are 7 common types of risks credit unions should consider managing during Covid-19

Legal risk 

Credit unions may face potential legal consequences if employees working from home are not compliant with any of their policies, or they end up carrying non-compliant activities. 

Credit risk 

Owing to reduced income and increasing layoff during the pandemic, this is one of the major risks credit unions face. 

Liquidity risk

An increasing demand in loans causes a shortage of funds and liquidity for credit unions. 

Interest rates

Low interest rates put a pressure on interest rate margins, and consequently reduce earnings for credit unions. 

Reputation risk

An inability to communicate properly with employees and members result in negative comments on social media, leading to a damaged reputation. 

Strategic risk

A huge economic impact on industries such as travel and tourism, increasing healthcare expenses, and spikes in loans all lead to failure to meet strategic targets and plans. 

Organizational risk 

Work from home orders and closure of schools leads to a decline in the workforce. It may also lead to frauds, decreased productivity, and an inability of vendors to provide services. All of this disrupts the functioning of a credit union. 

Mitigating the Impact of Covid 19 on Credit Unions 

Each credit union's strategy to manage risks will differ as per the restrictions laid down by their government and their state. 


Managing the health crisis

If a state allows workplaces to be open, then credit unions must take all measures to keep their members safe. This includes keeping their reading areas of their lobbies free of crowds, and implementing social distancing measures in earnest. They must also digitize any processes that do not require in-person meetings. 


Ensuring security of members 

The next priority of credit unions should be protecting the interests of their members. 


To provide monetary assistance to members, they should help members with restructuring loans, providing loans at low interest rates, helping  members with deferred payments, and providing loan extensions. They must also communicate with their governmental institutions and get recognized as an essential service provider. They should also offer financial counseling to their members to help them get through this challenging phase. 


Cash flow management 

It's imperative for credit unions to manage their liquidity during this period. Even though they must expect slow growth during the pandemic, they should use cash flow management tools to proactively make projections for the future and manage the flow of cash. 


As credit unions make concessions and become more flexible in their loan services for members, they also have to identify its impact on portfolio performance and proactively plan their loan recovery strategy. 


Education and support

Governments across the globe are taking aggressive fiscal stimulus measures to reduce the impact of the recession. Credit unions must serve as educational institutions, helping their members and the public at large take advantage of these measures. They should also help members rebuild their savings. As the public starts to see a credit union as an ardent supporter of its members and their welfare, they will be more confident to bring their savings to credit unions. They will also likely be more loyal to credit unions. 


Risk Management Checklist for Credit Unions During Coronavirus 

It is quintessential for credit unions to keep a constant tab on the developments taking place in their state, with regards to Covid 19. This includes keeping an eye on stay at home orders, new regulations to control the spread of the virus, and expected developments in various industries. This is a critical component of risk management for credit unions. 


Risk assessment helps credit unions identify and assess threats during Covid 19. 


Here's a quick checklist to help credit unions identify and mitigate risk during the pandemic: 


  1. Function according to the policies implemented by the government and ensure safety of its members. 
  2. Offer low interest loans to people and implement flexible loan recovery strategies as well to handle credit risk.
  3. Limit their exposure to long-term investments and loans, and balance the duration of all assets. This will help them to control interest rate risk. 
  4. Promote communication with their members and ensure the availability of help to members when needed. This will help them handle reputation risk. 
  5. Conduct regular meetings with teams and maintain ongoing communication. Analyze and evaluate policies and plans, to balance strategic risk. 
  6. Help their workforce adjust in a work-from-home environment.  Have necessary backup plans and policies in place to avoid transaction failure.


Conclusion

While Covid 19 has presented never-seen-before challenges for credit unions, by carefully assessing and considering all possible risks, it is possible for credit unions to sail through this difficult time with minimal damages. The first priority of credit unions should always be to safeguard their members’ interest. Without member support, credit unions cannot thrive. 


If you’re a credit union looking to manage risk and governance in a hassle-free way, check out GRC software by VComply

VComply Editorial Team
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The Importance of Risk Assessment for RIAs
Oct 8, 2020
4
Minutes

The Securities and Exchange Commission has laid down various rules and regulations for registered investment advisors (RIA.s), to prevent fraud and unlawful activities. One of the activities that a RIA must undertake to ensure that they comply with all of SEC's requirements is an internal risk assessment of their firm. 


Risk assessment for R.I.As helps them identify the different types of risks based on their business model, conflicts of interests, and affiliations. While conducting a risk assessment, they might discover operational and compliance risks related to their firm, and thus be able to remedy it. 


Investment advisory firms are prone to some common errors such as incorrect filing of form ADV, making wrong fee calculations, and also a lack of organization of records and books. 


Let's take an in-depth look at the importance of risk assessment for RIAs and how firms can conduct it. 

What is an RIA?

A registered investment advisor is a person or firm, that helps institutional investors and affluent individuals manage their wealth and investment portfolios. 


All investment advisors must register either with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) or state securities administrators. The latter is usually a government or regulatory agency, or official, overseeing and enforcing state-level regulations and rules regarding securities transactions.


Apart from managing assets for their clients, RIAs also create portfolios by using bonds, mutual funds, and individual stocks. They may also use a mix of individual issues and funds or only funds for streamlining asset allocation and cutting down on commission costs.


Registered investment advisors must follow the fiduciary standard. This means they must always keep the interest of their clients at the forefront. They receive compensation from their clients for their investment advice. 

What is Risk Assessment?

The purpose of risk assessment is twofold: to assess risks to the investment firm and assess potential risks to its clients. They must carefully assess and prioritize operational issues, procedure, and vulnerability in their organisation. Ultimately, they must try to mitigate and minimize risks. 

Purpose of Risk Assessment

The best way to detect and prevent regulatory violations is having written policies and procedures. This is usually the responsibility of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). 


Firms should conduct an annual audit for all their processes. This helps them: 


  • Understand the risks their organization may be exposed to
  • Assess of they have the right processes and procedures in place to mitigate risks
  • Customize processes and procedures to be able to mitigate newly identified risks


Risk assessment serves as a timely shot in the arm to help firms know if their organizational policies and procedures are sufficient to manage risks. Identifying potential compliance slip ups can help them avoid penalties in the future. 

Issues That Risk Assessment Should Address 

Risk assessment for RIAs begins with identifying all conflicts and compliance factors that may create risk exposure for the firm and its clients. Then, they must design policies and procedures that address those risks. It is expected that the policies and procedures should address the following (but not limited to) issues:


  • Safeguarding records and information of clients
  • Preventing fraud and incorrect usage of client assets  by employees for the from
  • Accurately storing and maintaining records, so they cannot be modified or altered unauthorized  
  • Ensuring full disclosure of statements and advertisements to clients, regulators;# and investors.  
  • Portfolio management processes
  • Fair trading practices
  • Business continuity plans


Identifying Risks for RIAs

There are many types of risks that may harm the interests of a firm and its clients. Take a look:  


  1. Strategic risks arise from inadequate business decisions. 
  1. Operational risks arise from the inadequate operations systems, mismanagement of information systems, and transaction processing. These risks can result in unforeseen losses. 
  1. Being unable to meet the financial obligations counts as a financial risk.
  1. Compliance risks arise from the possibility that a breach of internal policies or procedures may impact negatively or disrupt the firm's condition or operations. 
  1. Finally, reputation risks arise from the possibility that inappropriate management or employee actions may cause the public or press to form a negative opinion of the firm or its products and services.


An individual or a risk committee may identify these risks or any other risks by brainstorming about possible threats to the interests of the firm and its clients. 


When identifying the risks, it is important for the advisers to think outside the box. After successfully identifying the risks, the individual or the risk committee should assign a person or team to examine a firm's policies, day-to-day business processes, procedures, and systems surrounding the risks. Then, they must ascertain the level of risk, and propose reasonable compliance solutions for eliminating or decreasing the risk.


Wrapping Up 

Risk assessment is an essential responsibility for a registered investment advisor. It allows them to safeguard their clients against potential harm, and also ensures their firm complies with the necessary regulations and laws. 


If you're an RIA looking for a better way to assess and manage risks, take a look at the governance and legal compliance solutions provided by VComply

VComply Editorial Team
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Digitizing GRC and managing compliance remotely in a COVID world
Oct 6, 2020
6
Minutes

Compliance takes work. Surprise audits, producing relevant documentation, coordinating compliance needs across your organization, assigning responsibilities--the list is endless. 

If you've been using spreadsheets, or worse, physical records to manage compliance, you know it's nothing less than a nightmare.  Now imagine doing all of this virtually, without any of your key stakeholders in the same room. A few scenarios come to mind: chaos, miscommunication, and finally, penalties for noncompliance. 

Covid 19 has forced all of our essential work to shift to the virtual world, and this includes compliance. Regulatory agencies are now conducting virtual audits, and nonprofits need to be prepared in case their facilities come under review.  There is reprieve for nonprofits though: VComply offers simple, quick, and hassle-free compliance and regulation software, so nonprofits can manage their compliance needs smoothly. 

In this post, we'll discuss key features that enable seamless compliance management and the transformation nonprofits can undergo when they adopt VComply's compliance solutions. 

VComply Helps Nonprofits Manage Compliance During Covid 19 In a Stress-free Way 

VComply is a cloud-based governance, regulation, and compliance software built especially for nonprofits and organizations such as credit unions. It allows companies to manage compliance virtually, making it ideal for remote teams. 

Let's drill deeper into features that power VComply's compliance solution and make them unique: 

  1. Centralized documentation: The larger an organization grows, the more complex and diverse its compliance needs become. It's fine to work with spreadsheets in the beginning, but soon you need a central repository to manage all of your regulatory needs. VComply offers a centralized system to manage compliance, that helps you simplify compliance structures across your organisation, build accountability, escalate issues, and nurture a culture of proactive compliance. 
  1. Cloud-based: In a world where  work from home is the norm (at least for a while) and in-person gatherings are restricted, VComply's cloud-based solutions are a boon for nonprofits. No matter where your employees are  based, they can access their compliance information at the click of button and produce it when required for review. 
  1. Secure: Data security is a major concern for nonprofits, as breaches become common. Data theft can cost a nonprofit millions in penalties due to violation of laws such as HIPAA. Luckily, all data stored in VComply is compliant with local storage laws and 100% secure. 
  1. Evidence collection: VComply allows you to upload images or take pictures within the app, and store them as evidence. And it's available in an easily searchable format, so you don't have to scramble for important data again. 
  1. Powerful reporting: Unless you love rummaging around in spreadsheets to find compliance details and reports, you'll find VComply's robust reporting tools to be a boon. You can search for compliance reports by person, location, department, and organization.
  1. Compliance dashboard: See at a glance what every department in your organisation is up to. Escalate issues that matter, and focus on areas where you're lagging behind. Say good-bye to endless follow ups and say hi to a smarter way of working. 
  1. Notifications: Automated notifications help you track your compliance timelines with ease. The more processes you automate, the more time and resources you can save, and redirect towards your core mission. 
  1. Diligence score: This is an effective metric that helps you gauge the performance of each team member, and how well they complete their compliance responsibilities. By tackling compliance bottlenecks at an individual level, you can eliminate compliance issues and penalty risks once and for all. 

 

Benefits of Using VComply for Non Profit Compliance 

Now we've gone over the key features that make VComply an indispensable tool for nonprofits, especially in a stressful time such as Covid 19. 

Let's take a look at how exactly VComply can help you make compliance less of a headache, and more of a piece of cake. 

 

Improved processes 

Electronic or manual filing systems are not just difficult to scale, but also an administrative burden. 

 

A lack of streamlined processes for managing compliance can quickly get overwhelming. For example, quality and compliance specialist at Center for Human Development, Dan Sadowski, told us about how they managed compliance before adopting VComply: 

 

"Programs were managing their compliance requirements in a variety of ways. Often a series of emails were required just to confirm a simple obligation. The abundance of documents for policies and procedures can get overwhelming at times,”

 

On the other hand, a tool such as VComply provides you with an enterprise-level view of compliance activities and gaps, in real time. Track your progress, deadlines, and updates with a few clicks. 

 

Proactive compliance 

If your nonprofit is fairly old, you're aware of the dynamic nature of regulations and laws. Take a look at this: One of VComply's clients has over 8 different regulatory bodies, including eight that don't speak the same language. Combined, these bodies account for 1,000 regulations and over 400 standards to keep track of. Without a better system, managing compliance with such a high level complexity can often feel like a knee jerk, panicked reaction. 

 

VComply allows nonprofits to build a strong culture of compliance in their organization. This involves tracking and monitoring areas for improvement, staying vigilant at all times, and benchmarking compliance performance against previous years. Our clients have reported higher levels of accountability and compliance success. 

 

Time savings 

We'll let Michelle Cove, director of compliance at Center of Health Development explain, 

"Confirming with programs that they all have inspections to complete took at least 4 hours. Now we can see all that on our dashboard and produce a report in seconds.” Naturally, all of these time savings result in reduced areas levels across an organization, better performance, and an increase in quality of work and life. 

 

Always prepared, no matter what 

Surprise audra can often be a source of anxiety for nonprofits. When each department has a different location for storing documents and a different naming convention too, procuring all requested reports in one place can be cumbersome. 

 

With VComply, nonprofits can instantly generate reports based on responsibility, person, facility location, and/or state or federal regulation (ex: HIPAA requirements). 

 

During the pandemic, this can be especially helpful, as you're able to virtually access all information in one single place. 

Focus on people's welfare

While compliance is an unavoidable part of running a nonprofit, it's only a means to an end, and not the reason why you exist. As a nonprofit, you likely have a long term goal in mind to serve your community and beneficiaries

Adopting a robust system of compliance such as VComply helps you save time, resources, and manpower, and focus solely on your mission and purpose. 

Putting It All Together 

Covid 19 has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based applications and software, and the effects can only be described as revolutionary. 

 

Nonprofit companies looking to better manage their compliance needs and build a culture of accountability, should definitely seize the opportunity of virtual audits to give VComply a try! 

VComply Editorial Team
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Healthcare Non-Profit Compliance Primer
Oct 1, 2020
10
Minutes

As a healthcare nonprofit, you have the opportunity to impact thousands of lives. However, being a healthcare nonprofit comes with it's fair share of regulatory and organizational issues that can affect your long term future. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the common compliance requirements of healthcare non-profits.

Types of Healthcare Nonprofits 

As varied as healthcare issues can be, there are many different types of healthcare nonprofits too. Let's take a look at some of the most common ones below. 


Community Healthcare Centers

These are federally funded 501(c)(3) organizations that provide healthcare services to low income groups. They are generally located in areas where people do not have access to medical support. They serve people from diverse backgrounds and communities. Apart from basic healthcare, they often provide programs related to nutrition, exercise, and wellness. They form a critical component of the public healthcare system, ensuring people in both urban and rural areas benefit from healthcare innovations. Even though they’re nonprofits, they work with cutting edge technology, equipment, and systems to ensure the best care for patients.  


Drug de-addiction centers

Rehabilitation centers for drug addicts are another type of healthcare nonprofit. The cost of enrolling in a private de-addiction facility can be out of bounds for people from low income households. Unfortunately, such people are more likely to develop habits of drug abuse and dependency. Thus, they are more in need of such services. Nonprofit centers such as these help people cope with depression and anxiety, and ultimately, eliminate their dependence on drugs. 


Mental healthcare centers

While physical health is important, mental wellbeing is also a crucial aspect of healthcare. Non profit mental health organizations help people recognize signs of mental distress and address them in a timely manner. Generally, mental health is considered a taboo topic and people refrain from talking too much about it. An important role of these nonprofits is also to raise awareness about mental health issues, and encourage people to come forward and seek help. Mental healthcare centers consist of professionals who help people cope with distress, both emotionally and psychologically. 


Common Compliance Requirements for Healthcare Nonprofits

Nonprofit healthcare organizations enjoy various benefits from the government, including a waiver of taxes. Hence, they are closely scrutinized by government bodies and must comply with certain rules and laws to maintain their nonprofit status.  Organizations that fail to meet federal compliance guidelines face penalties and fines, and can also be barred from raising funds. 


Some common compliance requirements for nonprofit healthcare organizations include: 


  • Form 990: Nonprofit healthcare organizations must submit form 990 to the IRS (Internal Revenue System). This form informs them of its mission, motives, and upcoming programs. 
  • Donation receipts: Healthcare nonprofits must keep a regular account of all the donations they receive. For donations higher than $250, the nonprofit must provide the donor with an acknowledgement receipt. Donation records must be presented to legal authorities when required. 
  • Fundraising: In order to raise funds, healthcare non profits must have a state license, and renew it on a yearly basis. Those organizations that do not have a valid state license are not permitted to raise funds. 
  • HIPAA for healthcare nonprofits: HIPAA is an act that protects the healthcare information of patients and ensures it is not shared without consent. Under this act, healthcare organizations must employ a set of measures to protect sensitive health information. We have covered this act in detail below.  


Board  and Grant Reporting

The board of a healthcare non profit organization serves as the guiding light for its actions, helps ensure that it is legally compliant at all times, and manages and supervises it's activities. Each board member should have a specific role. 


First and foremost, it is important for a board to ensure a healthcare nonprofit meets rules and regulations in the healthcare industry on an ongoing basis. Board members are also responsible for providing strategic leadership, financial stability, and executive support to a nonprofit organization. 


The board must develop and communicate the organization's vision, mission, and goals. It must continually monitor the organization's progress and outcomes. Typically, a robust system for evaluating performance should include the budget, balance sheet, income statement, annual report, and financial reports. These are all critical documents when filing the 990 form. 


In terms of legal compliance, the board must ensure all 990 filings are made on a regular basis. Finally, the board is also responsible for heading fundraising activities for a healthcare nonprofit.  Successful healthcare nonprofits are generally managed by enthusiastic board members, who regularly attend meetings, actively participate in every aspect of the nonprofit's functioning, and represent the organization in a positive manner. 


HIPAA for Healthcare Nonprofits

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, implemented in 1996 to safeguard the privacy of healthcare information. The goal of HIPAA is to ensure that healthcare information of the public is not shared with any unauthorized parties, without an individual’s consent. 

To maintain the security of patients’ health information under HIPAA, healthcare nonprofits are expected to do the following: 


  • Encrypt emails that contain sensitive data
  • Draft policies around how health information should be distributed and documented 
  • Avoid using fax as a method of sending health information
  • Use passwords to protect sensitive information when sending it via email or another electronic system 

The HIPAA is enforced by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. If an employee or consumer makes a complaint, it is investigated and corrective action is taken against non compliant organizations. 

Often, HIPAA violations occur when healthcare information is stolen, sensitive data is copied, or information is disclosed verbally.  

Violation of HIPAA can incur severe penalties for healthcare organizations. These include: 


  • Civil monetary penalties for unknown violations between $100 and $25000 per calendar year per violation, enforced by the Office For Civil Rights
  • Penalties up to $50,000 and one year of  imprisonment for knowingly obtaining or disclosing individually identifiable health information. 
  • Up to $1,00,000 and five years of imprisonment, for violations made under false pretenses. 
  • Up to $2,50,000 and ten years of imprisonment, for violations made with the intent to sell, transfer, or use for commercial advantage, personal gain or cause potential harm.

HIPAA violations have cost many hospitals and organizations hefty fines. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center was charged a fine of $218,400 after they put the public health information of nearly 500 patients at risk. In another case, the Anchorage Community Medical Health Services had to pay a fine of $150,000 after a malware revealed the records of more than 2,700 patients. The center used outdated systems and software, and did not upgrade their technology. This case underlines the importance of processes and procedures, as well as regularly checking your software for malware. 


Why does a GRC software solution make sense for a healthcare non-profit?

It can be hard to detect security and compliance issues in growing and complex healthcare nonprofits. Moreover, compliance with HIPAA and other regulations often entails huge amounts of paperwork that healthcare organizations can find cumbersome. 

A simple solution to their compliance needs is using an automated compliance software that extends across through their entire organization. This will help them maintain consistency and minimize human error. 

An automated system for healthcare compliance such as VComply offers the following benefits to nonprofits: 


  • Efficient processes: A cloud based platform for storing data protects healthcare nonprofits from manual labour, helps redirect resources to patient care, and eliminates errors. With simple checklist and reporting capabilities, you can see patient data and well as any pending compliance requirements at a glance. 
  • High level of security: Violations of HIPAA and other regulations are often a result of human error. This can be eliminated with the help of a digital system. An automated system for organizing and managing patient data is both convenient and effective for healthcare nonprofits. Regular checks and updates ensure patient data is always secure, up-to-date, and easily accessible. 
  • Compliance with HIPAA and other regulations: You already know that compliance is of utmost importance to healthcare nonprofits. With automated compliance you'll be able to enforce reliable compliance processes, keep track of changing rules and regulations, as well as get regular updates of compliance actions needed on your part. This helps you consistently meet your compliance requirements in a quick and timely way. 


We hope this article sets you up to successfully fulfill your legal compliance needs. Violations of laws such as HIPAA are often the result of technical oversight and not keeping pace with changing technology. With the right tools and software, they are completely avoidable, so you can focus on what matters most: providing world-class patient care. 

VComply Editorial Team
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