Company Secretary as a Compliance Officer By CS Annu Sharma



Dear Folks 

Smile for all smile

The topic I choose to discuss with all of you is not just about the Company Secretary as per Companies Act, 2013 it is much more extended as we will get to know the responsibilities of a Company Secretary as a Compliance Officer with widen scope of an Organization. It all begin from November 2014 when Market regulator SEBI has mandated the appointment of Company Secretary as compliance officer for the purpose of the listing regulations. In case of Listed Companies, it is always seen that an Individual holds both the position as Company Secretary cum compliance officer as per SEBI (LODR) requirements.

Appointment of a Company Secretary has been one of the most talked topics in the recent times as Companies not just appoint them because there is a statutory requirement for a few class of the company including listed companies or company having paid-up capital more than the prescribed limit instead of all these reasons Corporates wants to be Compliance Oriented as well as  they don’t want to vain their hard earned money in penalties and non-compliance charges.

With the constantly increasing number of rules and regulations being instituted in a wide variety of businesses and industries, there’s a growing demand for workplace compliance services. In many businesses and industries, compliance officers are now indispensable as compliance cost is cheaper than the cost of non-compliance.
Let’s begin with some basic terminologies.

COMPLIANCE OFFICER

A compliance officer is an employee of a company that ensures the Company is in compliance with its outside regulatory and legal requirements as well as internal policies and bylaws. The chief compliance officer is usually the head of a firm's compliance department.

Compliance officers have a duty to their employer to work with management and staff to identify and manage regulatory risk. Their objective is to ensure that an organization has internal controls that adequately measure and manage the risks it faces. Compliance officers provide an in-house service that effectively supports business areas in their duty to comply with relevant laws and regulations and internal procedures.

 
HOW A COMPLIANCE OFFICER SERVES AN ORGANISATION?

A compliance officer is an employee of a company who helps that company maintain policies and procedures to remain within an industry's regulatory framework. Compliance officers wear many hats which are in detail below:
 

1.    A compliance officer must have a thorough knowledge of the company and an awareness of where possible regulatory breaches may occur. It is essential that the compliance officer effectively communicate the company’s key ethical principles and compliance regulations.

2.    Compliance officers organize regular training sessions for employees to communicate key regulatory changes and updates. This is particularly important in a heightened regulatory environment where change is constant.

3.    The compliance officer must work with business units and management to ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place that set guidelines on how to respond to a possible compliance breach.

4.    The duties of a compliance officer may include reviewing and setting standards for outside communications by requiring disclaimers in emails or examining facilities to ensure they are accessible and safe.

5.    Compliance officers may also design or update internal policies to mitigate the risk of the company breaking laws and regulations and lead internal audits of procedures.

6.    In the event of a regulatory breach, it is important for the compliance officer to have appropriate disciplinary measures in place to avoid a future recurrence.

7.    It is the compliance officer’s duty to ensure continual monitoring and review of compliance procedures to help identify possible areas where improvements could be made.

8.    Compliance officers are expected to provide an objective view of company policies.

9.    Influence by other employees, including management and executives, to overlook infractions may result in significant fines or sanctions that may lead to financial loss or even business closure.

10. Compliance officers must also have strong attention to detail. They need the ability to notice actions that may result in liability with Brilliant oral and written communication skills.

 
# 5 CRUCIAL TRAITS OF A SUCCESSFUL COMPLIANCE OFFICER:

Embodying these traits can accelerate the process of building relationships, earning trust, and gaining respect.

1.    Integrity. As the pillar of ethics at a company, a compliance officer must always act with integrity and tact and be an example to fellow employees.

2.    Agility. Regulations change quickly. A savvy compliance officer must stay up-to-date with industry rules and be ready to adjust at a moment’s notice.

3.    Transparency. A compliance officer must gain the trust of all employees and executives. Being open and honest in all interactions will take you far.

4.    Charisma. People skills are crucial for compliance officers to nurture a culture of corporate ethics and communicate the importance of compliance among all employees.

5.    Expertise. A compliance officer must not only know the current standards but also be able to interpret them quickly and accurately.


WHY COMPLIANCE OFFICER IS IMPORTANT?

Compliance risk is a complex subject as it varies by industry and also changes with the political and economic environment. While internal compliance may seem easier to manage since it is set up within the organization, it also is not always a black and white issue. That’s why having a dedicated individual who is responsible for such oversight can be beneficial. Here Compliance officer plays an important role.

To protect your business, no matter the industry, a compliance officer can oversee the internal and external environment to provide all that is needed to comply with rules and regulations. To enhance their powers by combining an automation tool with a compliance officer, you can significantly relieve the burden of compliance risk and allow your employees to focus on the tasks at hand that they were hired to perform.
 
In a Nutshell, a compliance officer identifies and mitigates risk for a company. Compliance officers are in-house employees who ensure the company and its employees comply with all external industry laws and government regulations as well as internal bylaws and policies. As corporate scrutiny grows and regulations tighten and grow more complex, compliance officers will need to adapt to the changing landscape.
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