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The Ethical Beginnings of Compliance

Wednesday 17 May, 2017
by Naomi Burley, Managing Director, GRCI
Factors such as complexity and sophistication of products and services, distribution channels, customer demands and unprecedented advances in technology have resulted in increased political and regulatory intervention into business. GRC professionals are at the forefront of these changes and can contribute as a culture change agent.

Naomi Burley, MD GRC Institute has a look at how compliance and an Oath can go hand in hand.

Translating an Oath into action

The GRCI welcomes initiatives from bodies like The Banking and Financial Services Oath, which encourage individuals within organisations to embrace voluntary codes that raise the conduct bar and enhance the ethical culture of organisations.

Our members, as compliance and risk professionals, carry something of a heavy burden. Charged with moving their organisations along the compliance maturity pathway, they are also responsible for building an understanding of legislative and regulatory requirements, while at the same time empowering their organisations to make informed decisions, take risks and treat both customers and colleagues with the consideration required by law and—ideally—beyond the minimum requirements of discretionary, ethical behaviour.

For many, their organisations resist these requirements, regarding them as superfluous (they think they know how to behave in the best interests of the market, customer and shareholders without outside influence), or as an onerous and costly exercise with little or no benefit.

Others accept the benefits reluctantly, viewing compliance as a means towards levelling the competition field, or achieving the core objective of a stable business and organisation.

Both circumstances establish the level of challenge for compliance and organisational risk managers, and this begins with the building of a framework that teaches and enables staff to take compliant actions. It is the responsibility of these professionals to transform the board’s wishes to ‘be compliant’ (whether willingly or enthusiastically) into a living program that gives skills, knowledge and empowerment to staff at all levels and embeds the responsibility for living up to the commitments made on their behalf, by their board, throughout the organisation. Compliance professionals don’t ‘do’ the compliance ‘for’ everyone—they provide everyone with the ability to be compliant.

The Banking and Financial Oath is a wonderful vehicle to help raise the bar for individuals in financial services. What it provides is the opportunity to argue less about legislative technicalities and understandings, and to concentrate more on the essence of the intent. For those within organisations who are able to commit to this Oath, we invite you to meet and partner with your compliance professionals and allow their expertise to assist you with making it a living, robust commitment, and not just a marketing line quoted by your board.

Your Oath is your promise; your compliance professionals will make it your reality. Partner with them. Engage with and learn from them.

For further information about what your compliance team can help you with, visit:


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The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
  • I will accept responsibility for my actions.
  • In these and all other matters;
    My word is my bond.