The pace of regulatory change and the amount of work it involves is leading compliance officers to become more demanding and expect more from consultancies they partner with, according to Ron Weekes, European chief executive at ACA Compliance Group.
He added that they wanted to partner with firms with “a depth of expertise” that could also provide “a better understanding of how other firms have reacted to the regulatory pressure”.
It was this client demand that led to ACA acquiring Cordium. The acquisition, which was first announced in April 2018
but completed earlier this month, enabled the two firms to expand the expertise they could call upon in the UK as well as make business efficiencies, Mr Weekes told thewealthnet
One advantage that Cordium brings to ACA is a Malta office. This presence in an EU country could be useful when Britain leaves the EU, Mr Weekes said.
However, the period of uncertainty over Brexit is causing an issue for compliance officers. Mr Weekes explained that until further details on any agreement reached between the UK and the EU are available it is difficult to plan around the issue. He sees little value in having a number of contingency plans ready when the outcome is so unclear.
There is still plenty to keep compliance officers and their teams busy in the meantime, though. Mr Weekes said this often requires extra staff. Here ACA offer both outsourcing and what he refers to as insourcing services.
Last year wealth management firms where busy preparing for the introduction of MiFID II. Now that this piece of regulation is in place the pressure is still not off, Mr Weekes said. He added that the FCA has now indicated that it will be reviewing how firms have adapted to MiFID II and how they are meeting the requirements in practice.
But it is not just the big compliance project work such as MiFID II or GDPR that take the time of compliance professionals.
There are also a number of on-going regular tasks, many administrative in nature, which a compliance team need to complete.
Mr Weekes said that ACA is able to help with both sides of the compliance coin. For example, some firms will outsource big compliance projects. Others may “insource” and temporarily expand the compliance team by bringing in people from ACA to focus on smaller tasks. This allows the in-house team to work solely on the larger projects, or whatever the need may be at that time.
It is not just people that help ease the compliance burden. Technology can, and will increasingly will be, used to in this area, Mr Weekes said. To this end the combined Cordium and ACA are able to provide and recommend “reg tech” to meet firm’s needs, he said.
Being able to help firms ease this compliance burden and, partly due to the acquisition, having a broad range of skills and expertise available will lead to organic growth for the firm, Mr Weekes argued. In addition, it would consider further acquisitions. These would need to be a strategic fit, he stressed, and work with the firm’s long term business plans.