Compliance officers will need to modernize their function thanks to changing consumer behaviors and increased adoption of digital technologies. This was the overarching theme of the latest Accenture Compliance Risk Study, which surveyed officers at 150 banking, insurance and capital markets firms across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Today and next week, I’ll delve into four key findings from our new research, which confirms investment banking compliance officers will have a central role to play as financial services firms evolve.

Compliance has kept its “seat the table”

Over the past year, compliance has retained its position as a critical control function for financial institutions. The function remains highly visible, with only one in five compliance functions now reporting to other functions, rather than directly to the board or CEO—and compliance officers know that that they must keep that visibility high to help ensure they remain relevant. How do firms intend to stay relevant? More than three-quarters of survey respondents say investment in the function will increase by at least 10 percent over the next two years.

A changing ecosystem demands greater compliance awareness

Read the report.
Read the report.

The last year has seen ongoing disruption to the financial services industry, exacerbated by the rise of digital technology. Customer behavior has changed, while a shifting regulatory landscape has also created new risks of concern to compliance officers.

Though the environment is changing rapidly, compliance officers we surveyed continue to be focused on managing relationships with external stakeholders—70 percent citing managing reputation in the public and media as critical to their function today. When it comes to understanding technology trends, very surprisingly, 59 percent of compliance officers surveyed do not think it is a skill that they should have to develop, and only half believe that understanding changing customer behavior is important to their function.

What these numbers indicate is that although the stature of compliance continues to rise—along with investment in the function—compliance officers’ understanding of the implications of a changing ecosystem seem less advanced than it should be.

Next week I’ll conclude my series by looking at the two other themes uncovered from our study. Until then, to learn more, read: