With the focus on personal liability increasing, compliance officers themselves are feeling more vulnerable these days.
That’s according to the findings of a recent report conducted by Thomson Reuters, “Rising Personal Liability—Perception and Reality,” which gained views from more than 2,000 risk and compliance practitioners across the financial services industry both through its customer summits of more than 1,100 attendees, and as part of a series of surveys it has conducted.
Overall, most risk and compliance practitioners believe personal liability will continue to increase—a point emphasized, in particular, by voting results at the Thomson Reuters New York customer summit, where 93 percent of practitioners said they expect personal liability of compliance officers to increase in the next year. Sixty-four percent said they expected a “significant increase," according to the report.
An apparent lack of oversight or awareness from senior managers exacerbates the regulatory focus on accountability. According to the 2015 Personal Liability Report conducted by Thomson Reuters, 49 percent of respondents said their senior managers “do not really know what is going on in their business.”
Compliance officers feel particularly vulnerable. When asked which role now carries the most personal liability, 67 percent of practitioners at Thomson Reuters New York summit, and 59 percent of customers at the London summit, responded with the “compliance officer.” In contrast, 22 percent of participants in New York, and 30 percent in London, answered the “chief executive.”
Analysis of global systemically important financial institutions in Thomson Reuters 2015 Cost of Compliance report provided further context around this concern. The results of that report not only were in line with those at the customer summits, but also 21 percent of compliance officers at the largest firms said they expect significantly more personal liability in the coming year.
Risk and compliance practitioners across the financial services industry also believe that greater personal liability will affect resources. Sixty-seven percent of respondents to the personal liability survey said the focus on accountability will have an impact on the ability to recruit and retain skilled senior staff.
“With this increasingly harsh spotlight focusing on senior individuals, there needs to be a greater awareness to the changes in regulatory expectations,” said Susannah Hammond, senior regulatory intelligence expert at Thomson Reuters and co-author of the report. “That includes awareness of the external regulatory environment, understanding and learning lessons from regulatory announcements, maintaining communication with regulators and a culture of compliance and accountability is established from the top, down.”