A key message I picked up at TSAM Boston recently was how the role of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) has changed dramatically in progressive buy-side firms.

Think about how historically the role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was belittled and marginalised with throw away descriptions of bean-counters. Not too long ago similar descriptions of the CCO as a chief box-ticker were thrown around with abandon. The office of the CCO was simply seen as a necessary evil in response to the onslaught of regulation faced by firms; an office whose only function was to produce audit tick sheets and ensure the correct ticks ended up in the right boxes.

Today the CFO is seen as a strategic partner that adds value across all aspects of the business and rightfully has a chair at the senior executive table. Similarly we are seeing an evolution of the CCO position within firm’s that have a strategic regulatory response in their DNA.

Key points I picked out of the panel discussions were:

  • The CCO should act as, and be seen as a strategic partner to the business
  • The CCO should be a member of the senior executive team in their own right, and not an adjunct to the GC/CFO
  • The CCO should focus on growing the breadth of skills and capability in their organization to respond to the needs of the new demands on compliance. 

The CCO in the CCO 2.0 office establishes the tramlines in a clear and unambiguous manner, allowing the firm to operate fearlessly in pursuit of the returns demanded by investors. They seek to engage the business agenda in a clear and unambiguous manner. They are facilitators that shine a light on the righteous path rather than erecting barricades on the paths of regulatory darkness.

Barricades are not necessary when the correct road is well sign posted!