Complacency and compliance are a dangerous combination. What worked last year may not work this year. Compliance is an ever-evolving process. It is critical that an advisory firm’s chief compliance officer keep abreast of all regulatory and examination changes.
Even more critical is for the firm’s senior management to support the compliance process. They can do this in several ways. First, by example: Compliance starts at the top, not the bottom. Senior management should also provide the necessary resources to enable the CCO to effectively discharge his or her duties. If the CCO doesn’t ask, then management must inquire. Ultimately, it is ownership and senior management that will suffer the consequences of a deficient compliance process. Don’t wait until the firm receives notice that the regulators are coming to ascertain the status of the firm’s compliance processes and exam readiness. Be proactive.
Senior management should meet with the CCO on a regular basis to address compliance efforts. Moreover, the CCO should be involved in the firm management process. If advisors are leery of including the CCO, then they likely have appointed the wrong person.