Compliance is a constant consideration in the world of a finance professional. But it’s certainly top-of-mind when it comes time for an audit. What will the taxman be looking for when they audit your business? Are you doing everything you should be, or will they uncover something unexpected?
To overcome audit anxiety and provide year-round peace of mind, businesses are increasingly looking at the benefits of having an in-house compliance officer.
Depending on the size and sector of your business, the role of a compliance officer is likely to take one of three forms. You might incorporate the requirements into the job description of an existing member of staff. You might include the requirements in the job description of a new hire. Or you might make it a standalone role.
Whichever route you take, it’s worth thinking about the characteristics of the person you’re looking for. What kind of person is the champion you need? And what will their role involve?
The Characteristics of a Compliance Officer
A competent compliance officer embodies their role. Ethical and principled. Fair and modest. Diligent. They’ll have conviction in spades.
Alongside these characteristics, they’ll also be proactive. They’ll be intelligent with a willingness and drive to keep learning – vital in a role where keeping up with legislation is paramount.
What Does the Role of a Compliance Officer Involve?
Essentially, a compliance officer manages compliance and ethics in your business although the specifics of the role will vary from company to company.
Compliance elements of the role are likely to cover implementation and management of policies and procedures. It involves ensuring everyone in the company is aware of the rules – and follows them. In other words, ensuring the business is compliant.
The ethics side of the role is about the spirit of the business – doing the right thing. It covers company values and training people in them as well as fostering a culture of compliance.
The Risks a Compliance Officer is Helping to Prevent
The core of the role is about ensuring the business is compliant with legislation and run ethically in order to avoid prosecution or censure. But in the course of their work, a compliance officer helps manage and reduce other risks and adds value across the organisation.
A company where employees feel comfortable inflating their expenses won’t be as profitable as it could be. (It’s worth remembering that one in five employees thinks it’s okay to exaggerate their expenses, so the problem may be more widespread than you’d like to think.) It’s also true that workplace values are essential to recruiting, retaining and motivating quality employees.
It’s good for business too – 56% of consumers stop buying from companies they believe are unethical.
The Challenges a Compliance Officer Faces
As with most things, the KISS approach makes good sense. (“Keep it simple, stupid” – or, more politely, “keep it simple and straightforward”.) When policies and procedures are simple and straightforward, it’s easier for everyone in the business to keep on top of them. Plus, when you keep things simple, the risk of people cutting corners or hoping their behaviour will pass unnoticed is reduced.
And if a proactive and public focus on compliance is new for your business, prioritising the biggest risks and expanding the remit over time may make it easier to keep people on side and engaged with the process.
Other Solutions to Drive Compliance
Of course, hiring a compliance officer isn’t the only route to peace of mind.
SAP Concur offers Concur Audit. The team carefully reviews claims making it easier for you to monitor policy compliance, secure preferred supplier rates and reclaim tax.
Whichever route you take, when you take control of compliance you put your business in a stronger position – and give yourself peace of mind.