How often do your compliance and regulatory team members meet with external clients or customers?

  • Once a month
  • Once a quarter
  • Once a year
  • Less than once a year

That's the questions posed to the audience at the Payments Compliance & Innovation Forum with the Canadian Institute last week, and an interesting revelation came to light.

The clear majority said less than once a year.

Perhaps this stat is not all that surprising considering the constantly competing interests of business innovation and compliance. But the payments space is positively bursting at the seams with emerging technology, increasingly complex data landscapes, and rapidly evolving client bases.

In the face of increasing fintech competition and innovation, shouldn't customers always be the number one priority?

Don't get us wrong, we strongly believe that the most successful payments businesses are those that learn to innovate and operate creatively within regulatory and compliance frameworks. Some see it as a stifling environment - we see it as a challenging one. But it becomes less challenging when the focus is less internally focused, and more oriented towards the most important part of any business: the customer.

So, how often should compliance check in with clients and customers?

We suggest at least once a quarter.


Well, checking in with clients allows compliance and regulatory officers to understand how process and operations affect end users, and ultimately business revenue. What is and isn't working for clients? Are there gaps in the process that cause issues, slowdowns, service interruptions? Are there new ways to reduce the costs of compliance while at the same time reducing risk and increasing client satisfaction?

The role of compliance in financial services is to help manage the risk to an organization and describes the ability to act according to rules and regulations both internal and external. As the cost of compliance continues to rise, an EY survey revealed that 85% of respondents believe opportunities exist to improve the linkage between risk and business performance.* That link, we believe, is strongest when the customer's experience is prioritized within a strong regulatory and compliance framework.

Compliance should not exist in a vacuum, and should not rely solely on checkboxes, reports, and rigid process. In fact, relying too heavily on reports and processes sometimes creates a roadmap for which to evade or avoid requirements, or otherwise be elusive in abiding by them. Reports can be selectively filtered, and can prevent organizations from seeing the whole picture.

By meeting face to face with clients, compliance can become a proactive discipline instead of a reactive control function. You're there to serve your client and help them understand and effectively implement services or products in market, within the constraints of rules and regulation. It's not a burden - it's a tool, an opportunity for dialogue, understanding, and business performance.

* EY's 2015 Global Governance, Risk and Compliance Survey

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