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The past year was a mixed bag for corporate compliance. In 2015, we saw major compliance scandals, like the Volkswagen emissions fraud, and the continued fallout from the GM recall, not Just for General Motors, but for its in-house legal team. The year also saw the continued rise of compliance professionals and a re-commitment by the Department of Justice to vigorously pursue compliance enforcement.
But enough about 2015. What lies ahead in corporate compliance?
1. CCOs in the Boardroom
Chief compliance officers will play a greater role in the boardroom in 2016, according to Michael Volkov, a corporate attorney and the writer behind the Corruption, Crime & Compliance blog. Volkov predicts that COOs "will eventually stand on equal footing as the Internal Auditor and CFO before the Audit/Compliance Committee."
Don't expect for it to happen on its own though. For compliance officers to have more sway, they'll need to be assertive and their boards will need to be sensitive to compliance issues.
2. Increased Use of Compliance Technology
God bless the robots who keep us in line. A recent survey, Volkov reports, shows that CCOs who use third-party risk management software are "more satisfied than those with antiquated paper programs." But it's not just a shift from paper to digital we'll see in 2016.
Expect to see a much larger demand for compliance tech solutions. Some companies are already ahead of the curve. JPMorgan Chase announced in April that it was rolling out software that could catch "rogue employees" before they actually do anything wrong.
3. Increased Criminal Charges
In September, the Department of Justice released the so-called Yates Memo, named after its author, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. The Yates Memo lists some major changes to the DOJ's response to corporate wrongdoing, announcing an increased focus of holding individuals personally and criminally responsible for corporate failings. If the DOJ follows through, expect to see even more individual prosecutions in 2016.
4. Continued ROI Pressure
The need to justify compliance programs and in-house legal departments won't let up in 2016. Compliance professionals should start focusing on ways to justify their cost to the company. We've got an a suggestion -- or two or three -- on just how to do that.
5. A Focus on Cybersecurity
The Internet's not going away anytime soon and neither are the threats of hackers and data breaches. When it comes to cybersecurity, corporate counsel have long outpaced their private practice counterparts, but they still fall short on the expertise executives want to see. Expect cybersecurity to continue to play a major role in the coming year.