The event began with the question of what compliance actually entails and how to define your role as a compliance professional within an organization. Where does the responsibility of the compliance professional end and where does that of another colleague within the company begin? While regulations or authorities provide a framework, the corporate context also has a significant impact.
Next to that, the ‘not always straightforward collaboration’ between first line and second line was discussed. Effective communication structures, visibility, and accessibility seem to play a positive role here. Internal training programs can also contribute to a positive collaboration if these programs are not only seen as learning tools but are also used to create awareness about compliance and risks, improving access to the internal compliance officer.
The question of how a compliance professional can add value to their company received a mix of answers. For example, a compliance professional can contribute to improving a company's image or reputation. The term "compliance officer" received some criticism in this regard, as it reinforces the perception that some have of compliance professionals being a kind of police officer. "Compliance business partner" was suggested as an alternative, following the nomenclature used by HR departments. This could be a better alternative not only because of the name itself and the impression it gives to others in the work environment but also to encourage the compliance professional to perform their role from that perspective.
The lack of Belgian networks for compliance professionals was also discussed. While legal counsels are supported by the IBJ network, auditors by the IBR network, and accountants or tax consultants by ITAA, such a network does not seem to exist for compliance professionals. Only those focusing exclusively on financial compliance have some form of network within Febelfin. A heartfelt appeal was made for the creation of such a network with sufficient education and interaction among its members!
Compliance and the War on Talent
The challenging search for talent in compliance was also addressed. It was confirmed by the professionals present that the demand for compliance professionals is high. A better influx from educational institutions could help rectify this discrepancy, but the absence of a specific "compliance" education program for students doesn't make it any easier. Additionally, existing programs often pay little attention to the various job opportunities within compliance. Alumni in law, economics, criminology, etc., often graduate without ever having heard of the term "compliance."
It was also found that many compliance structures struggle to offer sufficient interesting career opportunities, nudging compliance professionals to look out for other teams or companies.
Compliance and AI
As one of the buzzwords of 2023, the topic of AI couldn't be ignored. The participants acknowledged that there are opportunities, and that AI is an inevitable part of our (professional) lives. However, caution seems to be a priority for now. Compliance often deals with confidential or sensitive information, and using an AI-tool like ChatGPT or a translation site is not advisable until the processing of such data by the serviceprovider itself is completely clear.
In certain companies, such websites are blocked. However, some participants doubted whether this was the correct approach. They emphasize that they are looking forward to good training programs or courses related to AI, and, as true compliance professionals, they are also interested in how the regulations themselves will deal with this.
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