Compliance Best Practices: Focus on The Means, Not Just the Ends


Focusing on the end result is often what many compliance officers are concerned with.  If you get the result you want, that’s all that matters in the end – right? Not quite.  After all, so much rides on how you achieve the end result.

As a compliance officer, you likely wear a number of “hats” within your business. From change agents and business managers to quality assurance representatives, project managers, and therapists – each role plays a critical part in successfully doing your job of ensuring successful “end” results for the company.

A strategy for mastering these different roles – or for achieving any goal – is to focus on how it is to be done and done effectively.  As a compliance professional, consider how you advise, support, and contribute currently – are you maximizing your influence to get things done?

Ask yourself the following questions to see if you are leading with a focus on the “means” or the “ends”:

  1. Do you use fear of enforcement or fear of the government when challenged?
  2. Do you think what you say is more important than how you say it?
  3. Do you think Compliance issues are more important or more serious than business issues?
  4. Do you feel as though you are siloed or alone in your work?
  5. Do you identify issues that are “out of scope,” distancing yourself?
  6. When you innovate to support the business, do you exclude business ethics considerations?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, consider whether you are losing an opportunity to be influential and make a more meaningful impact.


Becoming an Influencer

Building influence takes time. A fantastic place for compliance officers to start is with building trust by excelling as a project manager, tailoring surveillance to material business risks, and connecting with clients and those associated with your regulatory duties as a gatekeeper.

Trust won’t come automatically with your job title as a compliance officer; instead, an influential compliance officer makes an impact by earning the trust of the business while maintaining his/her gatekeeper role. Trust will be earned has you show knowledge of the regulatory landscape, listen to colleagues and develops approaches that meet current and future commercial or organizational needs.

The goal is to become more than just an advisor on legal issues. As MaryJean Bonadonna, CCO at AXA Advisors, believes: “Compliance has to be embedded—not just inserted.” When you become a true influencer, you’ll find yourself engaging on non-compliance issues such as business products, internal controls, or any number of other topics.

When we become influencers in our organizations, we can more effectively insert compliance within each element of the business – applying our knowledge, expertise, and anticipation of business or legal challenges, ultimately allowing the company to be effectively proactive.

In the end, ironically, it’s “the means” – how we achieve results through influence – not “the ends” that will create successful compliance within your organization.  The how is done with earned influence.  Learn more about becoming an influencer who focuses on “the means” by visiting,