Report Urges Compliance Officers To Evolve, Help Set Corporate Strategy

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By Yin Wilczek

June 22 — With regulatory headaches increasing, compliance professionals should actively participate in setting corporate strategy, a June 22 PricewaterhouseCoopers report suggests.

In a poll of 1,102 compliance executives, PwC found that only 35 percent were involved in helping to develop or implement corporate strategy.

At the same time, the vast majority of chief executive officers are concerned about over-regulation and its impact on strategy, according to PwC's “2015 State of Compliance Survey.” Moreover, many CEOs say their companies likely will compete in new areas within the next three years.

The compliance function is “ideally equipped” to help companies navigate compliance risks and achieve growth targets, the report states.

Time to ‘Evolve.'

By offering their insights, compliance professionals can give CEOs and other senior management the “ability and confidence to take the risks required to implement their growth strategies—and to do so more rapidly than their competitors do,” the report states. Compliance input also can give the company a “significantly stronger platform upon which to push boundaries and seize opportunities.”

It is time for chief compliance officers “to evolve and become a more strategic partner to the CEO,” PwC principal Sally Bernstein said in a related release. “Addressing compliance needs within the context of the broader business strategy can help put organizations in a better position to drive growth while proactively navigating risk and regulatory complexity.”

In addition to proactive participation in corporate strategy, the report also recommended that CCOs:

• review the strategic plan and develop ideas for handling new or unusual compliance risks;

• forge close relationships with key business leaders throughout the company;

• define or redefine the scope of compliance across the company and build partnerships with other compliance owners within the business; and

• implement efficiency initiatives to improve the efficacy and reduce the cost of the compliance function.


‘De Facto' CCO 

In other highlights, the report found that the general counsel is the “de facto CCO” at 48 percent of the companies surveyed that did not have a designated CCO. It also found that named CCOs report to the GC at 31 percent of the companies surveyed and to the CEO at 26 percent of the companies.

PwC further found that the top five areas that come directly under the compliance function are:

• codes of conduct;

• ethics program and controls;

• Foreign Corrupt Practices Act matters;

• investigations; and

• hotlines.


In another recommendation, the report suggested that CCOs broaden the mix of talent within their compliance teams by adding individuals with business and sector expertise, and complex data analysis and technology skills.

The report also suggested that CCOs need to better understand where compliance obligations sit across their organizations and how they are reported.

“Once defined, they can drive collaboration across business units to ensure all obligations are being managed effectively, while also helping develop solutions that address potential regulatory risks and concerns upfront,” PwC managing director Andrea Falcione said in the release.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at

The report is available at