The Best Time Management Tools for Compliance Professionals
Deadlines, meetings, coordination, analytics, reporting, regulation updates -- the list of responsibilities for compliance professionals in financial institutions today seems endless. Not to mention the fact that you’re operating in a high-risk and highly complicated industry, which makes accuracy and attention to detail paramount.
No matter how you do the math, there are only so many hours in a day. So, how do you balance the critical nature of fair lending and compliance activities with the urgency needed to complete them? How do you make enough time to address all of your priorities? Are you promoting productivity or simply spinning your wheels?
Taking control of your schedule begins with implementing time management tools and practices that support and streamline your efforts. You need smart solutions that help you avoid the pressure of intense time constraints.
Keep reading to learn three time management challenges for compliance professionals, as well as the best tools to manage them, reduce your stress and work confidently.
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Unlocking the Secret to Sanity: “How Do I Prioritize?”
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you lose focus on compliance priorities and allow peripheral issues to get in the way. After all, ensuring fair lending and compliance requires a multi-faceted approach, and the ground beneath you is always moving. You’re required to fully understand the organization’s risks and develop systems to mitigate them.
You’re facing a seemingly never-ending stream of to-do items, which can cause distraction and lead to wasted time. In a scramble to cross tasks off your list, you end up pushing bigger, more difficult and more time-consuming ones further down, regardless of their urgency or level of importance. With so many responsibilities clamoring for your attention, it’s a struggle to stay focused on what matters most and even determine what to delegate.
Adding another activity to your day may feel counterproductive to achieving your time management goals, but spending a few extra moments prioritizing your responsibilities can actually help you save time overall. It gives you direction and clarity, both of which facilitate confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
THE TOOL: Your own calendar
If this sounds like a simple answer to a complex problem, you’re right. But that doesn’t make it any less effective. You’re the gatekeeper of your own schedule, which means it’s up to you to execute a strategy that will best fit your needs. To harness the power of prioritization and take back control of your calendar, follow these tips:
- Establish the rhythm of your monthly, quarterly and annual compliance goals, identifying and recording daily and weekly compliance deadlines along the way.
- Back into each objective, and set interim notifications for short-term tasks to be completed in the course of achieving long-term goals.
- Block off time each morning to compile a full list of required duties and estimate the amount of time each task will take.
- Utilize your outline of goals to evaluate the relative importance of each item, and reorganize your list based on urgency and approximate time output.
- Add calendar entries that reflect this schedule (and predetermined calls/meetings), with reminders to begin/end each task.
- As new items arise throughout the day, determine where in your list of priorities they should be assigned and take the time to update your calendar.
- Utilize color, categorization and other features to create an accessible visualization of your schedule and priorities.
The substantial compliance responsibilities you bear require some resilience and adaptiveness, but you can still rely on a sturdy framework of organization. Actively and intentionally keeping a tidy calendar can help provide the structure you need to successfully manage your time.
Staying in the Know: “How Do I Make Time for Industry Updates?”
Keeping up with the changes in the compliance industry is no easy feat. You’re functioning in an ever-evolving landscape, and staying on top of constant updates can be downright exhausting. From UDAAP and HMDA Plus to Fair Lending, Flood and OFAC, your leadership team and the people on the ground rely on you to comprehensively understand and communicate compliance issues. If you don’t keep up with the shifting regulatory landscape, you may put your organization and even your job at risk.
That said, staying on top of industry news is easier said than done. It’s easy to push this task to the back burner while other seemingly higher priority items take its place. Nonetheless, maintaining an up-to-date understanding of industry trends and insights is essential -- and should be treated as such.
THE TOOL: Access to expert news outlets
In order to sustain a firm grasp of current and changing regulations, news and happenings in financial compliance, you’ll need to leverage industry publications.
Of course, there’s more to it than simply subscribing to an online industry magazine or knowing where to find the pertinent information. The key is making this effort a routine task, one that you schedule and automate just like you would any other pressing compliance responsibility.
Begin by identifying the best resources for news and updates, such as:
Sign up for email subscriptions to any of these resources that provide one, and create a filter in your inbox that automatically sends your subscription emails to a designated folder. You can also set up easy-to-digest RSS feeds for various resources and consolidate or organize them using aggregation solutions like Feedly, NewsBlur and Digg.
Once you have set up the automatic delivery of industry news and updates, it is critical to block time on your calendar at a regular cadence (e.g., once per day/week) to access these folders and feeds. Remember: the time you appropriate for this task should be honored. Regulatory knowledge is indispensable when it comes to addressing compliance risk at your financial institution. Ultimately, it deserves to be handled with the same seriousness as other compliance duties.
Dissecting the Data: “How Do I Make Analysis More Efficient?”
Analyzing and reporting on lending data is a primary requirement for managing your risk of discrimination, but performing this function manually requires a ton of time as well as statistical acumen. And even if you’re relying on technology, you may be employing clunky or legacy software that doesn’t address your efficiency needs.
A data analysis solution that adds stress instead of minimizing it is the wrong option for you, period. If you’re spending hours upon hours getting your Fair Lending data into an organized, usable format for analysis, you’re wasting valuable time.
THE TOOL: Ntransmittal
Cut through the extra exercises in disparity identification and get right to the results. With the streamlined features of Ntransmittal, the analysis and reporting work is handled automatically and quickly, saving you countless hours.
As a Ntransmittal user, you reap the benefits of:
- Interactive dashboards, tables, charts and maps that make data reporting fast, easy and accessible
- A guided review with a dedicated Fair Lending analyst to assess your data and explain your risks
- A deep dive into statistically significant data that may draw the attention of examiners
- Expert insights to leverage for taking action on the software’s findings
These invaluable returns and advantages make the Ntransmittal solution a top tool for time management.
Ncontracts Viewpoint: Yours is a high-risk role, even for very skilled and experienced individuals, and there is no “easy button” for the time management problems that plague your profession. There are, however, proven tools to help you obtain control and clarity.
Take a more efficient, confident approach to compliance activities by leveraging the resources available to you. It all starts with knowledge and information.
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