What Does a Chief Compliance Officer Do?



One of the key figures of any organisation’s management team, the fundamental duty of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) is in overseeing the compliance across the business with regards to all relevant laws, regulatory requirements and procedures. 

“This needs to be someone who fulfils both a leadership role and specialist role,” says Compliance veteran, Nathan Dearinger, “a rare person who can walk the walk and talk the talk.” This balance of leadership and subject matter expertise is crucial in helping them to set the tone for the organisation. The CCO needs to have the respect of the business in order to influence senior leader counterparts, have an authoritative voice in C-Suite meetings and call out poor behaviours from other leaders.

“It is such an important role being at the top of the compliance pecking order,” explains Dearinger, “That person will be in front of C-Suite, Board and Regulators as much as they are in front of the business or their own staff but in many respects, they need to be connected, either through relationships or policies, or both.”

Some CCO’s rely on their teams for this connection to the business stakeholders or in other instances the CCO themselves might be so charismatic as to pull it off without that buffer. Those who opt for a more authoritarian rule may struggle to be as effective in the role.

Dearinger asserts however that the CCO shouldn’t really have many friends in the business, their goal is information. They need to have all the information that they need to do their jobs and that power should be enshrined in policy and guidelines. “They shouldn’t have to ask for information, it should just be given to them,” says Dearinger.

For someone to progress through the ranks to Chief Compliance Officer they will have developed a specific skillset and be a known entity within the business. This is a role that must command respect in order to be successful. 

The CCO is responsible for important issues such as having the final say on new senior hires coming into the team, preparing board papers and attending regulator interviews and liaison meetings so it’s crucial they stay abreast of what the regulator is saying. It is up to the CCO to apply their experience to help navigate the business in understanding where their weaknesses lie and how to reinforce them effectively via a strong compliance framework.

The typical day-to-day activities of a Chief Compliance Officer may consist of looking at individual matters of a regulatory or legislative nature that have been escalated through the business, team and committee meetings where the CCO will present the reports on how the compliance team is operating and how the business itself is operating from a compliance perspective as well as liaising with the board and managing their own team of people.

When it comes to their team, those who report directly into the CCO, they are responsible for everything that comes under a leadership role, from performance and pay to the size, dynamics and happiness of that team.

Fundamentally the job of Chief Compliance Officer is to balance regulatory requirements with the goals of the business while also ensuring that any risk is well mitigated in order that the business remains compliant.


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