ComplianceFinancial Planning

Compliance in the time of Covid-19

By: Tanya van Aswegen, General Manager, Compli-Serve SA

Navigating compliance requires some out of the box thinking given so many of us are still working from home. Some of the compliance officers (COs) at Compli-Serve SA have shared how it has been and where compliance may be heading.

Compliance meets creativity and agility

Updates to legislation in response to Covid-19 are ongoing (and were significant before) and with physical visits to an FSP premises a key part of getting compliance done, Theresa van Diggelen notes that more “creative and agile” ways to monitor compliance are needed. “The fact that we can’t visit to check on the operational ability of an Financial Services Provider, for example, means we need a way of evidencing compliance without actually being there.” The time it took a client to respond to queries was a good measure of this (within reason, as some clients play the role of teachers, nannies and general ‘home managers’ too). “Clients’ able to adapt to telecons or video meetings as opposed to face-to-face, qualifies as evidence too.” 

The influx of new and ever-changing regulations, notes Nadia Verappen, has highlighted the need for a robust regulatory framework to ensure resilience and greater transparency within firms. “Maintaining communication and company culture makes a firms’ ability to demonstrate clear reporting lines that are operationally effective, even more important. In addition to this, compliance needs to have direct access to the board, should any issues need escalation.”

The changing CO

Anel Naude feels the CO role could expand to include training or coaching clients to provide digital evidence of compliance. Examples include client proposals or record of advice documents. “Assessing evidence in digital format allows COs a greater opportunity to apply their minds,” she says.

Riana Grobler hopes for more cost-effective ways to do compliance. “If we can find the balance between occasional onsite visits and more frequent online meetings, it is simply more efficient for all parties.” 

Elzabe Botha now takes the possibility of Teams/virtual meetings instead of physical meetings into account, when determining fees for new clients. The extra time she has out of traffic means she is always on top of her inbox too. “Working remotely also means I can test client’s data security and uploading methodology.  Many clients save their client files in soft copy, but their naming methodology is confusing.  By doing remote monitoring, I can test these processes and procedures.”  

Riana feels lockdown has been a good test for clients and whether they have an effective business continuity plan with effective systems, procedures and access to records in place, to ensure that their business activities can continue. 

The personal touch

While working from home is working well, it does not replace human interaction. “I believe that to maintain key relationships you need to physically meet with people from time to time, and this is especially true for most South Africans. It’s a matter of balance that will be different for everyone as things evolve. It is a dynamic, exciting time,” says Catherine Cooper, CO and Director of Compli-Serve KZN.

With the majority of our correspondence with clients and service providers being online and with the ability to report on various regulatory compliance matters via video conferencing, online portals/reporting and email, embracing the new working world is possible, but there are rules to follow. This is made easier with the assistance of dedicated compliance support, because the regulations are only going to keep coming. 

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