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4 Common Characteristics of the Best Compliance Officers

3 min read
Aug 27, 2015

If there were one word to describe frame of mind of most compliance officers today, it would be “overwhelmed.” We hear it every day in conversation with clients, partners and prospects alike. Effective compliance officers do an excellent job of rising above the stress. Here's how they do it.

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 Compliance officers are overwhelmed by the volume of new regulations. They are overwhelmed by the pace of change. And they are overwhelmed by increased examiner focus in so many different areas. This sense of overwhelm and the accompanying stress weighs heavily on many compliance officers and their teams. 

The best compliance officers manage their work-related stress by using a few simple tactics to prioritize and create clear expectations. Below, you’ll find out what those characteristics are and how you can apply them to your work today!

4 Characteristics of the Best Compliance Officers

We have the privilege of working with and serving some of the country’s most effective regulatory compliance pros. They've been around the block and really understand what it takes to effectively manage compliance risk. We've noticed several common characteristics that enable some to effectively handle the stress and manage today's compliance complexity with grace.

Here are the four common characteristics of the best compliance officers, according to our observations. The best compliance officers:

1. Set Realistic Goals by Clearly Defining the Institution's Compliance Priorities

The best compliance pros take the time to reflect and define what success looks like. They consider the institution’s “real” compliance risk and determine what they can, and perhaps more importantly, cannot do. They get alignment with management and focus on this abbreviated list of priorities.

Take a few minutes in the morning to define what you'd like to accomplish today, and how completing these smaller tasks will help you reach your broader goals.

2. Proactively Define Personal Boundaries

Hard work is important and a little stress is expected, but the most successful compliance managers seem to understand that too much stress is counter-productive. They know their personal limits and their own stress signals. They try to maintain balance in the midst of all this chaos.

With that said, consider what helps you relieve stress when you become overwhelmed. Is it a quick walk? Another cup of coffee or a quick, lighthearted conversation with a colleague? Developing these stress-relief habits may help you return to your work refreshed and ready to tackle the task at hand.

3. Maximize Productivity by Focusing on What Matters

The most effective compliance officers focus on the previously defined priorities, not on everything. All areas of compliance can be addressed over time, but not all at once. Often compliance officers get overwhelmed when they look beyond the top priorities and allow the peripheral issues to haunt them. Reconnecting with the department’s compliance priorities regularly can keep things on track.

Sometimes the bigger tasks may get pushed further down the list, simply because they seem more difficult or time-consuming. Handling the smallest items first can be an effective strategy, but it's also important to keep a sense of perspective so that the most challenging items don't sneak up, causing unnecessary stress.

4. Manage Time and Energy by Delegating and Leveraging Resources

We’ve noticed that some of the most productive compliance officers really understand the art of delegation and how to leverage the skills of others. They see outsourcing as a form of delegation and understand that outsourcing non-core competencies are critical. They think through what can and should be delegated or outsourced to others, both inside and outside the organization.

By involving other team members, you can help create a culture of compliance. Again, by focusing on your core competencies, you can leverage the experience and expertise of others effectively.

Ncontracts Viewpoint: We all realize that applying these four strategies is easier said than done - but it's still not as hard as you might think. Effective compliance management is really is all about setting achievable goals, maintaining balance, and execution. 

As you plan for compliance success in 2015-2016, know that Ncontracts would love to help you achieve your goals. From Fair Lending and CRA to BSA/AML, we can provide the insight, analysis and service you need. To learn more about how we can help, talk with a consultant today.



Related: What Is A Compliance Management System And Why Your FI Needs One

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