Compli-Serve SA’s compliance officers, Riana Grobler and Nadia Verappen
Compliance can be low on the list of importance when businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, due to concerns brought on by Covid-19, the economic uncertainty in the country and generally making ends meet. Nevertheless, compliance is a critical part of any business and to fall behind puts you in dangerous water that can sink you quickly, without proper care and planning.
Compliance should be like water
A good tip for the compliance role during these difficult times is to “be like water,” says Riana Grobler, Compliance Officer at Compli-Serve SA. Why water? It’s quite simple, because the nature of water is to flow and “if water in a stream comes across a rock, it surrounds and flows around it naturally, while filling the gaps. Similarly, compliance should follow a flexible and adaptable approach by supporting a business and addressing critical risks.”
It should provide overall comfort and assurance to a business, making compliance less of a worry because it is being properly managed. Using an external compliance officer in challenging times has its benefits, as Compli-Serve SA for example, has a flexible approach depending on the type of business and circumstances and may be a cheaper solution too. So, keeping compliance in check during these challenging times may not only avoid any penalties or fines, which will cost you, but it could even cost less to be compliant if you look to external support.
Riana says that when dealing with different types of businesses and different types of people, it is important not to follow a rigid approach in monitoring compliance, but rather to find a compliance approach that would be suitable for each business and for the people involved in that business.
“Obviously, being flexible does not mean avoiding and turning a blind eye on real risks. Sometimes the water must crash against a rock where critical non-compliances are at stake, and the consequences must be dealt with before getting back into the flow.”
She says that by adopting this approach during these times, the compliance role may be seen as more flexible and supporting a business in a way that does not frustrate, but rather nurtures – or guides it gracefully.
See compliance as a business enabler
If compliance is like water, and water is life, then it’s easier to see it as an enabler than inhibitor. Compliance, like water, does allow for function. But compliance is often viewed as a hinderance to business, due to complex efficiency brought on by bureaucratic procedure and burdensome requirements for some tasks. Rules are there for a reason of course and cannot be worked around. Water may be fluid or resilient, but gravity should still be in charge.
“To view compliance as a roadblock is putting one’s business at a disadvantage,” says Nadia Verappen, another Compliance Officer in the Compli-Serve SA team. “It is time to reframe compliance and its role in organisations.”
Compliance should be viewed as a strategic partner in business, crucial to its eco-system. “A robust compliance framework provides assurance and confidence in your organisation’s ability to manage a response to the ever-increasing volume and complexity of regulation that we are faced with,” says Nadia.
To sink or swim is up to you
“Increasing the visibility of compliance, highlights that departments are able to work in synergy with a strategic approach to governance. This will protect an organisation against fines, reputational damage and partnering with precarious associations.”
By putting compliance front and centre of a risk mitigation strategy, it can safeguard an organisation against regulatory and reputational risk, saves money, and provides a competitive edge as a strong commitment to compliance is an increasingly crucial factor for prospective clients and investors. If you’re not yet on board with compliance, you should drop the anchor and change your status quo as soon as possible. The risk of drowning your business becomes higher the longer you wait.