Managing requirements in regulated industries is a continuous process. For companies operating in times of uncertainty and economic upheaval, a robust business continuity plan becomes the mainstay of survival to grapple with unforeseen circumstances.
The uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 have brought about a change in events that nobody could have ever foreseen. As organisations tackle the burden of workforce constraints and a new norm of remote work, they are encountering several obstacles in the area of regulatory compliance.
At Apiax, we have conducted a short survey with compliance and risk professionals across a broad spectrum of banking institutions and asked them about their main challenges in compliance operations.
Risk and compliance audience surveyed
As part of our business continuity in compliance research, we interviewed key executives (Heads of Compliance, Heads of Risk, COOs, Heads of Legal, and Compliance Officers).
To ensure broad representation, we included organisations that operate in one country, cover a group of countries, as well as those with a global presence.
- Global organisations: 14.3%
- Regional institutions (a group of countries): 57.1%
- Local institutions (one country): 28.6%
The business continuity processes of an organisation are not at last based on the scale of operations. This has been taken into account by including respondent organisations of various sizes. Size of the organisations by the number of employees was:
- 100–1999: 42.8%
- 2000–10,000: 28.6%
- 10,000 and above: 28.6%
Summary of results
Our survey was topped with a Q&A session over a webinar to roundup the results for assessment. These are some of the topics addressed.
How business continuity plans work in practice
53% of the respondents surveyed faced no problems in putting their business continuity plan in practice, but a significant number mentioned encountering problems in its implementation. Interestingly, not a single respondent said that the business continuity plan was out of sync with the organisation’s goals. It further underscores the importance placed on the business preparedness as part of a company’s risk practices.
Key challenges in keeping compliance units operational
A significant number of 46.9% of the respondents emphasised access to compliance sources as the main issue encountered for keeping their compliance units operational. While teams were available and collaborated efficiently, it was the paper-based compliance resources that were found cumbersome for remote work practices.
Lack of access to regulatory knowledge was more of a constraint than changes in the remote working environment. Only 34.4% of the respondents considered technological infrastructure as one of the key challenges in ensuring business continuity.
A technology-driven compliance framework would be preferred in a remote workforce setting for compliance operations on-the-go.
Managing compliance content and documents remotely
When asked about governing compliance documents remotely, 40.7% of the respondents revealed that they could not manage legal and compliance manuals and country guides smoothly. At the same time, 59.3% of the respondents could access documents without major issues.
Compliance team collaboration during remote work
In the present scenario, where teams are collaborating remotely on compliance matters, 28.1% of the respondents said they encountered challenges in ensuring a consistent and seamless workflow. While 71.9% of the respondents said they managed team collaboration for business compliance to a great extent despite inconsistent team availability.
Delivering compliance information to business stakeholders
A large section of the respondents at 75%, said they encountered hurdles in the delivery of compliance know-how to business stakeholders. Only 25% of the respondents revealed a consistent delivery of compliance answers to their client facing employees. The gap between business and compliance makes it difficult for legal and compliance professionals to distribute compliance knowledge seamlessly to front-end co-workers.
Confidence in compliance operations
Among the companies surveyed, 32.2% of the respondents were not able to guarantee that all processes and operations functioned compliantly. At the same time, 67.8% of the respondents mentioned complete confidence in their compliance processes.
The survey brought to the fore the challenges faced in the implementation of regulatory compliance when teams are functioning remotely. As companies ramp up the adoption of technologies to match changing events, business continuity in compliance keeps pace with the next phase of digital transformation.