Policies and procedures are the underpinning elements by which an organization establishes IR rules of conduct. Both serve to drive compliance, but do so through starkly different methods. One puts to paper the guidelines and rules that every organization expects its employees, and every other person connected to the company, to follow. The other, procedure, presents a step-by-step process for any company activity or function, thus establishing standards. The best example of the two in action is within organizations connected to the medical industry, such as a hospital.
In a highly competitive environment that thrives on doing anything and everything it takes to succeed, ethics are a key system used to govern business operations. Business ethics, by definition, is a system of beliefs that serves to guide a business organization and the individuals within that organization. These largely revolve around the behaviors, decisions, and values of all involved, and are sometimes incorporated into regulatory norms.
We know that good governance is the culmination of robust internal controls. Risk management specialists and compliance officers always speak about implementing internal controls. What exactly is the definition of internal controls? The federal security law, Section 13(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 provides a clear definition of internal controls interns of accounting and bookkeeping:
Every organization faces certain types of risks in business. Any factor that threatens an organization’s ability to achieve its goal is considered a business risk. The major categories of risks to consider are: strategic risks, compliance risks, financial risks, and operational risks. Another important way to categorize risk is based on the source of the risk and see whether they are internal or external risks.
In the present age, it is increasingly common to find many organizations, including industry titans, take near-fatal blows at the hands of non-compliance. Regulatory bodies around the world keep slapping fines and issuing notices to non-compliant companies. In 2020 alone, the largest non-compliance fine was paid by Wells Fargo, which was to the tune of $3 billion. Considering the financial consequences and likelihood of lasting reputational damage, staying compliant is of utmost priority for corporate boards.
On July 30, 2002, the American Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act to improve corporate disclosure accountability, transparency, and corporate governance across a public company. The SOX act is intended to protect the shareholders and the general public from business accounting errors and fraudulent activities. The act was passed in a reaction to a series of financial scandals that occurred during 2000-2002 period such as Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom.
In general, compliance refers to all the laws, regulations, and policies that an organization should confirm. When in compliance, the organization, employees, and third-party vendors will behave according to the laws and standards of the regulatory and industry bodies. The essence is that compliance helps organizations to act responsibly and obey regulations related to labor, work safety, finance, operations, and accounting standards.
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.
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.
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.