From Collector: The Many Sides of a Chief Compliance Officer

Mounting regulatory requirements in the credit and collection industry have propelled compliance officers to the top of the org chart. Learn how to identify and nurture the traits that will make your CCO most effective.

2/9/2018 2:00:00 PM

Collector MagazineNewsCompliance

While legal and regulatory compliance has long been a collection industry priority, for many years the compliance officer position was considered to be only for companies with budgets large enough to afford the extra C-suite seat—and the costs that person’s efforts would likely incur.

Instead, the compliance burden was often shouldered by the CEO or president, or divvied up between middle management.

In the collection industry, chief compliance officers stepped into the limelight after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed in 2010, and the position became even more critical after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was jolted to life in 2011, Collector magazine editor Anne Rosso May reports in the February issue.

Today, you’ll find compliance officers in most financial services organizations—the position reached #16 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Business Jobs of 2017, and boasts an impressively low 1.7 percent unemployment rate.

Their essential mission couldn’t be more straightforward: Chief compliance officers are charged with making sure their company meets all state and federal regulatory expectations.

To do this, they must have a deep understanding of how their company works, including how all branches communicate with each other and how processes are developed and carried out, as well as the company’s markets and client needs, Rosso May reports.

Needless to say: it’s a busy and often stressful job.

“This role is absolutely critical to the continued success and growth of our organization,” said Andrew B. Robinson, president and CEO of Associated Credit Services Inc. “If an agency does not have a culture whose very foundation is compliance, they cannot continue to thrive.”

Rosso May reports on five key traits effective CCOs possess, and tips on how you can help nurture these critical characteristics in your own CCO.

CCOs are experts in industry laws and regulations and engrained in every part of the company.

They possess strong communication skills, especially when it comes to delivering bad news about regulatory shifts that require changes in a company policy or procedure.

“Any time compliance gets involved, the typical pushback from operations is: we’re not going to be able to collect,” said Dave Rainbolt, chief compliance officer for Allied Collection Services Inc.

Finally, anyone charged with the role of CCO is very organized and knows they have job security in the industry.

A CCO’s to-do list is always a mile long, and every item on it is critical to your organization’s risk management strategy, Rosso May reports.

“You need a task-oriented personality to help you get through your list,” said Jack Brown III, president of Gulf Coast Collection Bureau.

Good CCOs have experience meeting strict deadlines and maintaining at least a façade of calm while doing so. Creating a system to track proposed, in progress and completed policy or procedure changes can also help them stay on top of initiatives and detect important patterns.

While the future direction of the CFPB is unknown, the compliance officer’s place in the credit and collection industry seems pretty secure, thanks to increased scrutiny at all levels.

“The agencies that don’t embrace compliance will do one of two things in the next 10 years: they will cease to exist or they will consolidate. Basically, they will be left behind,” Rainbolt said.

“If you’re an agency owner, my advice is this: This is your opportunity to come out ahead. Take the opportunity while you have it and if you need help or don’t know where to start I’m happy to help and so is ACA,” Rainbolt said. “Compliance can be complicated to navigate, but we can do it.”

Read more tips from CCOs in the field, such as Tanya Kisler, chief compliance officer at Magnet Solutions; Albert Cadena, president and CEO of USCB America; and April Lindauer, chief compliance officer at I.Q. Data International, in the February issue of Collector magazine.

Did you know?

ACA International has two designation programs specifically designed to educate both new and experienced compliance professionals: the Credit and Compliance Professional Designation and Credit and Collection Compliance Officer.

To get started, visit ACA International’s Education and Training website.

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