Joe Murphy on the Evolution of Compliance [Podcast]

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By Adam Turteltaub

Joe Murphy (LinkedIn) is rightly considered one of the founders of the compliance profession, joining the field when compliance barely existed. Since then, he has been not only a member of the community, but an innovator and, although he might blush at the term, a philosopher. He constantly explores what compliance is, could be and should not be.

In this podcast he shares his insight as to how the profession has evolved in the almost 40 years that he has been a part of it.

Looking at the changes over the decades, what has surprised him the most is the large number of people who work in compliance but are not a part of corporate compliance programs as we know them. He cites individuals in anti-money laundering (AML), environmental compliance and privacy as examples. They often operate outside of the overall compliance effort and may not have the real access to power needed to be effective.

What should have been done differently at the start of the compliance field? In hindsight he believes there should have been a greater emphasis on having a strong, independent compliance officer, truly at the top level of the organization. That’s where the greatest risks are, he notes.

He offers another thought in what should have been different: There should have been a greater focus on incentives. Companies continue to struggle with incentives and rely upon discipline more heavily than they should or could.

What would he change today? First, our attitudes towards conflicting areas of compliance and law, such as areas where privacy law may get in the way of conducting an investigation. Conflicts have always existed, he observes, and compliance teams need to navigate them.

Compliance also needs to navigate what he sees as treacherous seas created by those academics who have no practical experience in compliance but, nonetheless, write articles about it that then get cited and repeated, even if they are wrong.

Joe closes the conversation by looking to the future.  Not surprisingly, he encourages us in compliance to stand up for the profession and keep others from defining us.

Listen in to learn more from a truly veteran compliance professional.