Survey Reveals Maturation of Compliance Field and Opportunities for Improving an Organization’s Compliance Function

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Post By: Paul Mayer, Executive Vice President, The Bonadio Group

To provide useful benchmarking information to organizations as they look to develop or enhance an effective compliance programs, The Bonadio Group’s Compliance Solutions Group conducted its third survey of compliance officers, which revealed the maturation of the field as well as key areas of opportunity for organizations to focus on regarding their compliance function.

Compliance officers across the country need up-to-date information regarding how other compliance programs are operating to effectively improve and sustain their own programs. This recent survey, which was sent to organizations of all sizes and received 139 responses, outlined several trends. For example, while compliance is increasingly viewed as a valuable component, there is still room for improvement in elevating the compliance officer role among senior leadership. Additionally, the majority of compliance officers reported that their organization does not have a succession plan in place for the compliance function.

Below are some important key survey findings:

  • Over 20 percent of compliance officers responded that they were not part of the Senior Leadership of their organization. In 2014, it was 28 percent, and in 2016, it was just over 21 percent. This demonstrates that most organizations are viewing the role as a valuable component of the organization, but there is still room for improvement in elevating the compliance officer role in some organizations.
  • Over 78 percent of compliance officers responded that they have been working in the compliance field for more than four years; in 2016, 71 percent had worked in the field more than four years. This data further demonstrates the maturation of the compliance field and the experience level of compliance officers.
  • Over 51 percent of respondents reported a salary of over $75,000/year, with almost 27 percent reporting a salary over $100,000/year. In 2014, 15 percent reported a salary over $100K, and in 2016, 22 percent reported a salary of over $100K. Again, this further demonstrates the maturation of the field and increase in experience level of the compliance function.
  • 37 percent of respondents said that they had an annual compliance program budget of $0 (excluding salaries and other compensation) in 2019, compared to 44 percent in 2014 and 41 percent in 2016.
  • With regard to whether the compliance officer position is responsible for overseeing other departments, about 83 percent said yes in 2019, compared to 70 percent in 2016. This further exemplifies the growth and expansion of roles and responsibilities of the compliance function.
  • With regard to whether the compliance officer is involved in organizational strategic planning, 76 percent said yes in 2019, compared to 71 percent in 2016.
  • 65 percent of compliance officers reported that the compliance function does not have a succession plan in place in their organization.
  • Almost 57 percent of respondents reported that they feel they do not have the resources to adequately carry out the compliance function, compared to 54 percent in 2014 and 2016.
  • 20 percent of respondents indicated that their organization does not perform an annual organization-wide risk assessment, while 10 percent were not sure, compared to 29 percent saying no and 10 percent being unsure in 2016.
  • 31 percent indicated that their auditing and monitoring process is not sufficient for an effective compliance program, compared to 33 percent in 2014 and 42 percent in 2016.

Key Areas for Improvement

From the survey findings, four major areas for improving the compliance function of an organization were revealed:

  • Lack of performing an organization-wide risk assessment
  • Insufficient auditing and monitoring processes
  • Inadequate resources to carry out the compliance function
  • Lack of succession planning for the compliance function

In the coming years, the compliance field will continue to mature and grow, and compliance officers will continue to expand their knowledge and experience. With this growth, we expect an increase in turnover in the compliance function. Roles and responsibility expectations are continually increasing, and with that change, salary expectations will continue to rise. It is critical to have a succession plan in place for the compliance function of any organization.

We also anticipate that new risk areas will continue to develop, especially as technology progresses. Performing a regular organization-wide risk assessment is a key component in developing a risk-based auditing and monitoring program as part of an effective compliance program.

We recommend that organizations assess where they stand in the four critical areas identified above and develop/implement a plan to address areas where they need improvement.