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Safeguarding Business Integrity. New standards to be set for compliance roles

There is an increased awareness in today’s business environment of the importance of good compliance in the financial services sector. The risks of financial and reputational loss and the possibility of public censure if a company’s compliance functions are not up to scratch have never been higher. Whether it is attempting to ensure that financial systems cannot be abused by organised crime, or preventing the mis-selling of a pension, the compliance function is pivotal to safeguarding business integrity.

Almost every firm in the financial services sector needs to engage with compliance issues, but formal qualifications are not a regulatory requirement for compliance officers and there are currently no agreed industry standards in this area. This is why a landmark project to establish the first industry wide-standards for compliance is being launched in a unique partnership between the International Compliance Association and the Financial Services Skills Council.

The International Compliance Association is a leading international professional body dedicated to the furtherance of best compliance and anti money laundering practice in the financial services sector. The Financial Services Skills Council is licensed by the UK government to influence education and training policy, improve business performance and to protect the consumer through ensuring that the skills needs of the industry are met.

Together, the International Compliance Association and the Financial Services Skills Council will bring unequalled expertise and authority to the development of standards of competence that will ensure that the compliance function truly safeguards business integrity.

We can only develop these standards with the expertise of the industry. Involvement at this critical stage would ensure that your views are taken into account for the long-term benefit of the business and individuals working in compliance. We are seeking input from senior compliance practitioners to do the following:

- serve on one of the steering groups that will advise on standards for the two main areas of countering money laundering and general compliance (e.g. the avoidance of mis-selling)
- join one of the working groups that will draft detailed standards for particular functions
- discuss your work with one of our specialist researchers
- comment on draft standards as they emerge

Setting standards to protect business integrity

A set of comprehensive and internationally bench-marked standards for compliance would be beneficial to the industry, the regulator and the consumer. Implementation of good standards:

- Protect businesses against risks of the failure of their system
- Support induction and career planning in the compliance role
- Allow training needs to be identified
- Help employers to set competence requirements for recruitment and promotion
- Provide a basis for job specification and job evaluation
- Enable businesses to demonstrate that regulatory requirements have been met
- Provide a basis for high quality qualifications

Bill Howarth, Chief Executive of the International Compliance Association, said: 'In the increasingly insecure global environment of our industry, the risks of the failure of systems have never been higher, for the reputation of the business, for individual compliance officers - who can now be held personally liable - and for the consumer. Good compliance standards are good business. These new standards will enable your company to guard against risks as they emerge.'

Tom Caple, Head of Sector Engagement at the Financial Services Skills Council, said: 'One in ten people in the financial services sector work in compliance, a dynamic and challenging environment requiring high standards of competence. Although our focus will be on compliance within the financial services sector, equivalent functions exist in other industries, many of whom will be interested in the standards that emerge from this project. The range of stakeholders demonstrates how important this project is, not just to the compliance community, but to the financial services sector as a whole, and beyond it to other regulated industries, especially to service industries in the "knowledge economy".'

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Tel: 0207 216 7381