Magazine article American Banker

Exec's Efforts Put Compliance Up Front

Magazine article American Banker

Exec's Efforts Put Compliance Up Front

Article excerpt

MARGARET McKENZIE IS ONE of those people whom bankers formerly loved to hate -- a compliance officer.

Bank employees, she said, used to look at their colleagues from the compliance section and grouse, "Oh, look at these people. They are creating all this paperwork for us and we have to follow all these procedures because Margaret McKenzie wants us to."

"But now, at least at my bank, they are starting to realize it is in their best interest," said the 42-year-old senior vice president for Old Point National Bank in Hampton, Va.

Having prevailed on her home turf, she is using her role as head of the American Bankers Association's compliance committee to proselytize the rest of the industry.

"I try to get the message across to the CEOs, particularly of community banks, to say this is no longer a back-room function," she said. "Compliance really happens on the front line. It does not happen in the back room."

At the ABA conference on compliance in June, Steve Cross, the Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency's deputy comptroller for compliance management, said the biggest problem regulators have with banks is that management is not taking compliance seriously and working it into its everyday operations.

"I thought it was interesting for him to make that comment because he is right on," she said.

Ms. McKenzie has headed the ABA compliance committee since October 1991. Her term ends in September.

Under her guidance, ABA compliance seminars changed from a lecture format to a serious of shorter, interactive discussions. …

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