Around the globe, workplace automation is reducing time allocated to manual tasks and providing more opportunities to focus on higher-level responsibilities. With a system that automates much of the decision making process, compliance software reduces many of the manual burdens that compliance officers face.
From buying shares to taking a client out to dinner, employees can simply log onto the compliance platform and submit a request for review. Integration with existing company systems as well as public data systems can offer a centralized look into the critical data needed for compliance assessments — and that’s just the start of it. Keep reading to take a deeper look at what compliance software could do for you.
Why is compliance software important?
In the age of Big Data, there are extensive amounts of information being created and collected at all times. This makes it imperative to have dedicated software programs that can collect and manage this data. With regulations constantly changing, compliance software is just as imperative.
For example: In the financial sector, with serious fines, penalties, and sanctions always looming — threatening the welfare of not only firms but of individual employees — compliance software keeps compliance teams operating with maximum efficiency while making it easy for employees to comply.
Do I Need Compliance Software?
- Are you struggling to keep data current and easily accessible?
- Do you struggle with audits and generating meaningful reports for yourself, your team, and upper management?
- Are you starting to lose good people to compliance departments in other enterprise firms?
- Perhaps most importantly, are you having difficulty simply identifying questionable activity?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s a sign that an enterprise firm needs compliance software.
How Do I Find the Right Compliance Software?
If you’re looking to buy compliance software, take the opportunity to ask detailed questions to help you determine the right fit. The vendor should be able to provide a software roadmap, demos, references, and records showing they meet all security and tech requirements.
Along with these basics, it’s important to understand the level of support and training the vendor offers. This is essential during the implementation period as well as for ongoing software maintenance. It’s vital to understand every detail of the software and the contract before you make a decision.
How Do I Get Buy-In For Buying Compliance Software?
Companies typically judge an expense by its return on investment, or ROI. But with compliance, it's much harder to get to that clear-cut number. A compliance officer's mere presence on the job may stop problems before they ever manifest. But how do you insert something as intangible as risk into an ROI equation?
Think about it this way: Companies regularly assign hard values to soft costs and benefits. Intellectual property—like copyrights, trademarks, and patents—is highly valued and regularly factored into overall company worth. How much does your company stand to lose if it falls out of regulatory compliance? Framing compliance software in this light is key to getting leadership and other stakeholders on board.
Key Features of Compliance Software
Any compliance platform you build or buy will likely remain in place for years, so it pays to choose one you can live with. The following are key features you should have in your compliance software platform:
Build or Buy Compliance Software?
When you build compliance software, you set the pace and priorities from the development stage and throughout its lifetime at the firm. This provides you the unique ability to meet all the specific needs your firm may have. But with this ownership come the various costs associated with maintaining compliance software.
When you buy, there are numerous options and vendors available to you. These platforms can provide you with predictable costs, economies of scale, and a fast turnaround. You're also freed from software maintenance or development on the sidelines, so you can focus on what your firm does best.
The most important factor in implementing compliance software is knowing which option — build or buy — is right for your firm. Many, many details factor into making the right choice, so it’s best to do your research.
How to Manage:
Managing employee trading, or personal account dealing, is a top priority for most compliance teams, as it could present potential conflicts of interest. With compliance software, this process has become more accurate and efficient than ever before. Employees can log into the compliance platform, fill out a request form, and receive an automated approval or denial. The system can cross-reference the data to provide a precise and accurate decision. If any request warrants further investigation, the compliance team will be notified.
Outside Business Activities
Outside business activities (OBA) are always a top concern for compliance teams. Similar to personal trading, pre-clearance is the compliance officer's best friend when it comes to managing OBA: employees log into the platform, fill out a request form, and await an automated approval or denial on whatever it is they want to do.
Certifications are extremely helpful when it comes to managing OBA. Compliance software should collect and store all certifications from the firm’s employees, which provide an extra layer of security and protection against potential conflicts of interest.
Private investments that collide with a company's code of ethics or industry regulation can cause problems for not only the firm but for individual employees. Pre-clearing means that, before any personal investment is made, an employee must first check in to make sure it doesn't conflict with any internal or external rules or regulations.
Compliance software should also allow for easy updates or changes in employee investment positions. In cases where a quick approval or denial isn't possible, the right software will automatically trigger a multi-level review process.
Gifts And Entertainment
Wining, dining, and gift giving are a time-tested way of conducting business, and can be crucial to maintaining good firm-client relations. But if not properly managed, it can result in conflicts of interests. Pre-clearing is an efficient monitoring tool, since the firm's code of conduct is programmed directly into the automated compliance software. The platform collects and integrates data from other firm systems as well, which is cross-referenced when any request relating to gifts and entertainment is made.
Powerful software algorithms can decide whether or not an employee can make a monetary contribution to a political candidate or political entity without putting an enterprise firm in violation of any SEC regulations.
A beneficiary management capability lets you manage lists of individuals or political entities benefiting from donations made by your employees. A contribution data service supplements the political donations data you've collected from within your firm, giving you more confidence that donation limits aren't being exceeded.
Software also simplifies the compliance department’s manual workload, automatically verifying or auditing what was submitted into the system versus what was actually donated.
The Importance of Quality Data
Ensuring quality data is a top priority for any firm and compliance team. Compliance software offers a platform via electronic feed that can remove human error and safely exchange information from system to system. This efficiency measure prevents quality data from falling by the wayside and applies to both external and internal partners.
Remember that not all data feeds are created equal. Some are more important than others — it's critical that you know which is which.
Where Should My Data Live?
Should you host the compliance software platform and data yourself or do you trust your vendor to do it? Each has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand what will best suit your firm.
If the platform is hosted onsite, you have complete control and unlimited access with little to no delays in populating data or pulling reports. This also comes with the challenges of running all the servers and staying ahead of all updates.
If the program is hosted offsite, you’ll see a different variety of benefits including economies of scale as well as ease and safety within collaboration. There are many facets to onsite and offsite hosting. Understanding the pros and cons of each one is just the start to finding your best fit.
How Important Is Data Security?
Data theft is becoming increasingly common, which makes data security even more crucial. A compliance software vendor's approach to data security can tell you a lot about the company as a whole, and is an automatic differentiator in the age of Big Data.
The vendor’s approach to security should cover the basics but cover them well. That means physical security, like locating the data center in an unmarked structure, as well as guards, fences, and biometric checks. It also means Tier-3 network topology and ISO 27001, all of which are fundamental.