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How to Get a New Risk or Compliance Officer Up to Speed

4 min read
Mar 16, 2022

Training is important for anyone entering a new role at a bank, credit union, or mortgage company—but that’s not the only way to help a new employee get up to speed. When onboarding a new employee, especially in a specialized role such as compliance or risk management, it’s important to leverage every tool in your box to help that employee understand their new role and begin contributing to the institution. 

Looking for ways to help a new risk manager or compliance officer hit the ground running? Here are tips for three scenarios. 

If you have time for a coordinated handoff... 

If a long-time employee is retiring or being promoted to another position, your new risk or compliance officer may have the opportunity to work with their predecessor for a direct handoff of institutional knowledge. This is the best possible scenario—it can be made even better with a good risk management or compliance solution in place. 

An organized compliance officer will have all their policies and procedures in one centralized location that they can show their successor. However, it’s even more helpful if those policies and procedures can be easily cross-referenced and looked up by regulation. This will help the new staffer to understand the connection between specific policies or procedures and the applicable regulations (because there are often more than one) they implement. This is especially helpful when regulations are inevitably updated, making it easy to identify what documents need to be edited to reflect the changes. 

Related: 11 Can’t-Miss Compliance Management Tips from Top Compliance Officers

The same holds true for risk assessments. Knowing which risk assessments were conducted when, the results of those assessments, and what they mean for the institution’s overall risk profile is essential to being a good risk manager. Sure, you could stash all those reports in a binder, but that won’t alert the risk manager when the next assessment is due or ensure all the assessments are conducted using the same assessment scale and framework. It won’t let the new risk manager assess overall enterprise risk management (ERM) at a glance or assess risk in real-time. 

A documented audit trail is also immensely helpful. A long-established risk or compliance officer may log activities in a spreadsheet and supplement that document with an encyclopedia of risk and compliance activities documented in their brain. They generally know who did what when—even if no one remembered to record it. That neural record won’t be any help to a new staffer.  

If your FI anticipates the departure of a superstar risk or compliance officer (or even just a good one), make sure they have a centralized, organized location to document all their knowledge. From risk assessment ratings and controls to reporting and audit trails to complaintsfindings management, and board approval of policies, it’s important for everything to be recorded to ensure a more seamless transition. It ensures that your new staffer will spend less time catching up on what’s going on and more time actively monitoring and managing risk. 

If they are going to inherit a mess... 

Let’s be honest. Sometimes a FI’s risk management or compliance program isn’t where it needs to be. It can even be a downright mess. 

Policies, procedures, and other key documents may be on paper, in file folders or drawers, and on hard drives and share drives across the institution—if they exist in the first place. Examiners may be not-so-subtly hinting that your program needs a substantial overhaul. The new staffer may need to make sense of a tangled web or be expected to build an entirely new program.  

If your new risk or compliance officer will be tasked with developing a brand-new program, there are two options. They can research and build everything from scratch or the FI can adopt a solution that provides a framework and the tools for implementing a program. 

The benefit of building a program from scratch is that it can be customized to the exact specifications of the institution—once the risk or compliance officer sorts out what those needs are. The downside is that can take a very long time, especially if the FI isn’t used to having in-depth discussions about risk.  

Adopting a risk or compliance management solution gives your new staffer a head start when it comes to building a new program. From controls and risk libraries to compliance alerts and libraries of standard rules, regulations, and implementation plans, it provides a framework that can cut implementation time by more than half.  

It also gives staffers access to experts in risk management and compliance management that can offer insights into best practices. 

Related: 7 Features Every Compliance Management System (CMS) Needs 

If they are new to risk and compliance… 

Good compliance talent is hard to find. Sometimes the best option is growing that talent in-house by promoting a bright, organized, and driven employee.  

When bringing on a risk or compliance officer that doesn’t have a background in risk or compliance, the best way to shorten the learning curve is to provide them with tools that will help them learn on the job. 

I’m not talking just about compliance or risk training, which is a bare minimum requirement. I’m talking about a tool that will guide them through the entire process.  

Risk and compliance management software helps new staffers more quickly understand the scope of the FI’s program and what needs to be done next. It also helps them keep pace with regulatory change—alerting them to changes applicable to the FI. Instead of reading hundreds or thousands of pages of regulation, employees can read an executive summary that tells them what the changes are (and offers suggestions on what needs to be done to comply). 

It provides reports, showing what risk and compliance activities require attention and who is tasked with doing them and make it possible to understand the big-picture issues that need to be addressed so they can focus their learning on the most pressing concerns. 

These solutions also come with extensive support and training, giving your staff access to a bench of risk and compliance experts who can help them get a handle on the situation. 

Related: 6 Features Your FI Needs in a Risk Management Solution 

If your FI is anticipating significant changes to the staffing of its risk or compliance management programs, an ERM or compliance management solution may be just what you need to ensure a smooth transition or set the stage for a fresh start. 


Related: What is Business Continuity Management?


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