28 December 2018

In the global business environment, the only certainty is uncertainty. Even in a surging economy, risk abounds. Perhaps your competitor releases a brand-new product or develops a new technology. Perhaps your supply chain is disrupted by political upheaval or natural disasters. Perhaps your leadership is rocked internally by scandal or insider trading. But of all potential risks, the one that can be the most vexing is the problem of compliance. Regulations change with the political winds, meaning your company must keep up-to-date with these developments and adjust its business practices accordingly in order to remain on the right side of the law. Likewise, as your organization expands into new territories and jurisdictions, it will be bound by new laws and mandates, furthering the need for a clear-eyed look at compliance issues.

How then can a company understand its position in relation to overall compliance? Perhaps the most effective way is through compliance reporting. Compliance reports offer detailed accounts of an organization’s progress on particular compliance initiatives, or, taken collectively, can provide a broad summary of your company’s compliance efforts.

Who Compiles Compliance Reports?

In most large corporations, a compliance report falls under the direction of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). The CCO is responsible for establishing company-wide standards and implementing procedures to ensure that an organization’s compliance programs can effectively and efficiently identify, prevent, detect and correct issues of noncompliance with applicable laws, regulations, industry standards or company policies. Members of the compliance department may recruit or consult with subject matter experts for the completion of particular reports, and oftentimes, data is gathered from across the organization through grass roots reporting, polling and questionnaires.

In smaller organizations, or organizations without a compliance officer, the responsibility for reporting may fall on members of the legal department or another qualified employee(s). When choosing a manager to lead a compliance reporting team, it is best to find someone who has both expertise in the particular business operations under review and the regulations or mandates involved in the compliance initiatives. It is also important to note that this manager may need temporary relief from their typical duties, as compliance reporting can require a good bit of extra time and effort.

Who Reads Compliance Reports?

Compliance reports can have a variety of different audiences, depending on the particular focus of the report and whether or not the report is internal or outward-facing.

Outward-facing reports are usually part of a standard regulatory regime or specific compliance audit that an organization undergoes as part of a request or review required by regulatory agencies. These reports are read by members of the appropriate regulatory agency and can be integral in determining whether the organization faces fines, sanctions or other penalties. A thorough compliance report indicates that the organization is meeting regulatory requirements or operating in good faith and may sway a regulatory board to work with the company toward remediation.

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Internal compliance reports are often more targeted in scope, and depending on their focus, may be read by many different groups throughout the organization. A broad summary of compliance efforts might be presented to board members or select stakeholders to demonstrate the company’s position in reference to current regulation.

The details of a compliance report might also be of concern to a select department whose work with new regulations informs their business dealings or future plans. Finally, the lessons gleaned from a compliance report may be used to educate the wider workforce on the importance and necessity of following standard procedures and policies.

What Are the Benefits of Compliance Reporting?

Compliance reports identify areas within the company where compliance initiatives are being met effectively and those areas in which more work is needed to meet the standards of regulation or internal controls. Armed with this knowledge, business leaders can make more effective decisions about resource allocation, risk management and strategic planning for the future. In addition, the completion of annual compliance reports has two key benefits for organizations:

Peace of mind. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a compliance report is the peace of mind it offers owners and other stakeholders. Compliance is a complicated endeavor, with many of the goals seeming like moving targets. Compliance reporting offers concrete evidence that your organization is on the right side of regulations and controls, and can be the starting place for any plan to reconcile noncompliance issues. Annual compliance reporting can be an integral way of identifying likely problems before they develop into full-fledged violations. 

Client assurance. A thorough annual compliance report is like a clean bill of health. With it, your organization can demonstrate to clients and potential investors that your operations and controls are trustworthy. As the list of mandatory regulations grows, more and more clients expect organizations to be able to provide proof of compliance before they enter into contracts or invest funds. Those who cannot do so might be a cause of hesitation or concern for potential business partners.

How can entity management technology help?

Compliance reporting can be an arduous and time-consuming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Advanced entity management technologies offer several key features that help to make compliance reporting as quick and painless as possible.

Single source of corporate data. The process of creating a compliance report inevitably gathers data from disparate sources across the organization. Entity management technology provides a single source of verifiable corporate data, ensuring that reports are based on current, reliable information.

Built-in data analytics applications. Data analytics applications embedded in entity management software allow users to glean actionable insights from gathered information.

Data visualization capabilities. Users can take advantage of entity management technology’s data visualization applications. By deploying these applications, compliance teams can chart, graph or color-code compliance data, strengthening and clarifying their message to achieve the best possible results.

The increased regulatory environment of the past decade has forced corporations to take a hard, honest look at compliance initiatives. The best way to get a clear picture of your organization’s compliance efforts is through regular, thorough compliance auditing and reporting. Entity management technology can help compliance officers produce clear, effective reports quickly and easily. For more information about how Blueprint can help you with compliance reporting, contact an authorized Blueprint representative today.