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Volume 32, Issue 2

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Friday, 12 April 2019 15:05

What is Compliance SME?

Donna Boehme, the “Lion of Compliance” shares that true compliance SME is the first and most foundational element of a strong compliance program. An experienced CCO with true compliance SME earned in the field and in the profession understands on many levels the multidisciplinary nature of the work, the optimal way to educate and facilitate collaboration and what can realistically be achieved through each phase or cycle of a strong, effective compliance program that supports and is driven by a culture of ethical leadership.

In 2016, two researchers from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business published a report on their study “Why Don’t General Counsels Stop Corporate Crime?” The simple answer: “Because it’s not their job!”

This is precisely why true compliance subject matter expertise, earned in the field and with the profession successfully designing and managing compliance programs (“Compliance SME”), is the first and foundational element of the modern Compliance 2.0 model. The modern 2.0 model recognizes compliance as an independent profession, distinct from Legal, with the subject matter expertise (SME) needed by senior management to lead and advise its approach to the modern and existential issues of compliance, ethics, culture and reputation.

The modern Compliance 2.0 model takes the place of the failed Compliance 1.0 model that was based on a naïve and misinformed assumption by boards and CEOs that compliance should be structured as a captive subset of legal and thus driven solely by the legal mandate and mindset. That flawed model failed to accommodate the stark realities that compliance and ethics was emerging as a completely separate profession and SME from legal, with very different mandates, core competencies, practices and skill sets. At the same time, advocates for the in-house bar were sensing an opportunity to respond to the chaotic legal services market and claim the new role of Chief Compliance Officer for the legal field. Yet, in their zeal to claim the CCO role as nothing more than a “legal lieutenant” and a “process integrator,” these voices resulted in driving compliance into a flawed model destined to fail because it lacked true compliance SME and positioning to drive its distinct independent mandate.