Financial services firms, pharmaceutical companies and other heavily regulated organizations have long devoted significant resources to a compliance office, typically with a chief compliance officer and strong support staff. Multinationals have embedded part of the compliance function locally, typically with reporting to both the central compliance office and local management. But companies not facing heavy regulation, even large ones, have struggled in deciding whether a full time compliance office is needed.
Well, now there are clear indications that a full time role is becoming more common. Compliance Week recently reported on two studies saying just that. One is from the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), who’s survey shows 75% of the 365 respondents has a chief ethics and compliance officer or similar title with “top-level oversight of compliance.” And 40% said the compliance chief has no other role in their company, and for companies with over $1 billion in revenue, the number is 55%. Where the title is shared, it’s with the company’s legal department in 23% of the time. The other survey was conducted by the Society of Corporate Compliance & Ethics, showing that of 560 respondents, 97% have a designated compliance or ethics officer, with 36% having no other title. Of those with another role in the company, 20% share responsibilities in the legal department. As with the OCEG study, other shared roles range from the chief audit executive, CFO, and head of human resources, among others.
Also telling about the relative importance of the compliance officer role is the reporting relationships. The SCCE study, for instance, shows the chief compliance officer reporting directly to the CEO in 55% of the organizations. And the compliance officer provides reports to the board of directors or a board committee both in writing and face-to-face in 80% of the companies. And with a more senior role comes higher pay. The OCEG study shows the most common level of compensation (36%) is between $150,000 and $250,000, with 20% reporting pay at $350,000 and above, not counting bonuses, stock options or other forms of pay. As we might expect, pay in larger companies is at the higher end, with companies with more than $1 billion in revenue showing 23% with total compensation at the $450,000 level or higher.
Certainly, if you’re directly or tangentially involved with compliance, these numbers probably aren’t surprising. With the regulatory spotlight shining brightly and companies struggling to keep costs from soaring out of control and to enhance compliance program effectiveness, companies are looking to strengthen the role of their chief compliance officer.
© Steinberg Governance Advisors, Inc. 2010. The information presented here does not constitute legal or any other type of professional advice. Companies are encouraged to consult legal counsel concerning their responsibilities for legal and regulatory compliance.