Having a board-level compliance committee is now a standard in most organizations. Based on the regulation framework, processes, and internal structure, the role of these entities differs.
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.
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.
Operating as a non-profit organization in an overly competitive and capitalism-first economy means that there is no shortage of obstacles. Non-profits are bound by unending public scrutiny coupled with strict government regulations because of the special financial privileges they enjoy. The tax-exempt status combined with access to public funding is two very good reasons why compliance, on all fronts, can’t be ignored.
Regulatory watchdogs around the world served stiff penalties in 2020, with major financial institutions being asked to own up for their deficiencies and malpractices. Citigroup faced a $400 million fine for risk management shortfalls, JP Morgan was charged $920 million for illicit market activity, Westpac agreed to a record fine of AUD 1.3 billion for anti-money laundering breaches, Goldman Sachs was fined $2.9 billion in connection with the 1MDB scandal, and Wells Fargo saw a huge $3 billion penalty for he fraudulent account fiasco.