The Man From FCPA attended the 15th annual SCCE Compliance and Ethics Institute in Chicago recently. Flying home to Houston offered some time for reflection on this year’s signature event for the SCCE. The event had over 1,700 attendees, and it was a great demonstration of the growth of the corporate compliance profession. Many of us got into the compliance profession through the legal function; a few came into the profession from internal audit or other corporate function.

Now however many practitioners new to the compliance profession are coming from other disciplines. It occurred to me that the next generation of compliance professionals will be university trained compliance professionals. This means more than simply a course or two on such regulations as the FCPA, export control or anti-money laundering laws; but with a much broader skill set which will enable a chief compliance officer or compliance practitioner to be more effect in making compliance help businesses not only do business the right way but also do business more efficiently and, at the end of the day, more profitably.

A great example of this was one of the keynote speeches by Kristy Grant-Hart, the author of How to be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer, who brought not only her passion for compliance to the role of a CCO but also discussed specific steps a CCO can take, from a wide variety of disciplines, to help make businesses run better. Her talk encapsulated for the evolution of the compliance profession, from someone inside a legal department or simply with legal training to using a much wider skill set, to help a company be run in a superior manner. While lawyers certainly can help to protect a company, one thing we do not do is make businesses run better.

The challenges for America and the world’s corporations to be in compliance will only grow going forward. When something as benign as providing a bank debit card can form the basis of a $185 regulatory fine, it demonstrates why a compliance professional needs to have a seat at the management table to help prevent such corporate disasters. Compliance with the FCPA will always be a part of the role of any CCO but as risk expand and grow, the role of the compliance professional will need to expand, along with the skill set to make it all work.