The International Compliance Association’s Big Compliance Conversation explores and debates the latest challenges and issues facing regulatory and financial crime compliance professionals all over the world. In this article, Ruth Hutchinson offers five tips for moving from the second line of defense to the first.


The International Compliance Association (ICA) is a professional membership and awarding body. ICA is the leading global provider of professional, certificated qualifications in anti-money laundering; governance, risk, and compliance; and financial crime prevention. ICA members are recognized globally for their commitment to best compliance practice and an enhanced professional reputation. To find out more, visit the ICA website.

1. Recognize your own limitations

Listen and learn from client-facing colleagues. They will be able to share their specialist knowledge about the markets, customers, and products and help you to build your own understanding. This experience will help you improve product and client knowledge and, when mixed with your expertise as a subject matter expert, makes for an ideal combination when developing risk assessments.

2. Bring your commercial awareness to the fore

Understanding business strategy plays an integral role in ensuring your control solutions are fit for purpose; experienced first line colleagues can work together with you to help you develop and design controls that work both to manage risk and operate successfully in the commercial environment.

3. Learn the governance model

Identify the governance model in place in your new area and find the best places to engage. Talk to people and find out if there are any meetings or events that will give you this information. Remember, this might include meetings that cover non-risk topics. Interact, introduce yourself, and be seen.

4. Bring your humility but stay strong to the values of risk mitigation

Organizational psychology tells us that leaders who demonstrate humility receive better engagement from others. If you’re used to overseeing teams you’re now working with, this skill becomes even more crucial. As mentioned before, you are not going to know everything. Admitting your own knowledge gaps and respectfully deferring to others will lead to far more constructive discussions about mitigating risk than any display of arrogance would.

5. Appreciate the opportunity

Cultivating a positive compliance culture is integral to effective control performance. Here’s a rare chance to work across levels within your business, mutually educate, and learn from each other, as well as giving you the opportunity to help colleagues truly understand why risk management is so important.

The International Compliance Association is a sister company to Compliance Week. Both organizations are under the umbrella of Wilmington plc.