Best Practices

[Part 5] Creating a Comprehensive Compliance Communications & Training Plan

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INTRODUCTION:

You’ve meticulously planned, collaborated, and drafted everything you need. The time has come to implement your Compliance Communications and Training Plan.  Be wary, however, of future variables – putting your plan in place also means future-proofing it against unforseen events. And future events there will be.

 Step 4: Implement and Plan for the Future

bigstock-businessman-with-hat-in-front-42328192.jpgWhether with the group or alone, the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) now needs to set the sequence of activities specified in the Plan in motion, and begin showing results. Absolute perfection is not the goal here; instead focus on steady progress towards meaningful communications and training milestones that support the overall compliance program.

Place key Plan activities and dates in your calendar, along with interim reminders. Make it second nature to periodically revisit the Plan and take stock of where things stand. An automated compliance management system is a tremendous tool for organizing, and in some cases implementing, Plan tasks and activities.

Mergers/acquisitions, entry into a new country, a business downturn, or a regulatory investigation could all have a ripple effect and require Plan adaptation. New or revised Department of Justice, Securities & Exchange Commission or other law enforcement or regulatory emphases may change the topical order of communication and training events.

But since many of the most likely events have foreseeable Plan responses associated with them (at least at the macro level), why not include a Plan section or Appendix that both provides others with good insight into the compliance implications of certain events and that takes the Plan to the next level?

For example, there could be a Plan Appendix entitled “Possible Company Events and Associated Plan Implications”. Within the Appendix there could be a section entitled “Overview” containing a text box that had information along the lines of:

EVENT

COMPLIANCE PROG. IMPACT

PLAN RESPONSE(S)

COMMENTS

M&A

New employees to integrate; thorough assessment of other entity’s program for gaps; possible new risk assessment for combined entity; possible revised or new program.

Function of deal size, but wholesale Plan revision if substantial.

Post-closing, and before Plan revisions, significant compliance messaging as part of integration. Also, early evaluation of nature and scope of recommended revised training.

New country entry

Overall program impact will be driven by risk assessment of country corruption risks.

Communication and training response will be driven by risk assessment of country corruption risks.

A primary tool used in the risk assessment is the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI)

Business downturn

Will be a function of compliance budget cuts, if any.

If compliance budget cuts and/or material changes to other parts of business, Plan re-assessment may be required.

The US Department of Justice is playing increased attention, in investigations, as to whether or not a company provides “adequate resources” for its compliance program

Regulatory investigation

The investigation response could require full time CCO involvement at times, and a priority will be to demonstrate that a thoughtful and proactive program is in place that meets the definition of an “effective compliance program”.

Plan communication and training will be closely scrutinized by regulators. Communications concerning the existence of the investigation and proper conduct will be required. The existence of a thorough and active Plan will help to demonstrate the company’s commitment to compliance.

The definition of an “effective compliance program” is found in the US Sentencing Guidelines.

CONCLUSION:

By putting the Planning, Collaboration, Production, and Implementation in place, you will ensure the most comprehensive and efficient path to a superior Compliance Communications & Training program. The time spent designing and putting the Plan in place is a worthwhile investment that will stand internally in the short term, and may be disproportionately valuable should there be a regulatory investigation during the Plan’s existence.

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