Magazine article American Banker

CEOs Ignore Us, Compliance Officers Say

Magazine article American Banker

CEOs Ignore Us, Compliance Officers Say

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Compliance officers think their bosses don't understand what they do or why it's important.

"Sometimes the only way you can get their attention is hit them in the face," said Chuck Lewis, vice president and compliance officer of United Missouri Bancshares, Kansas City.

Gathered here last week for the American Bankers Association's National Regulatory Compliance Conference, bankers groused about chief executive officers at sessions covering everything from fair lending to advertising.

The ABA invited top executives to the conference for the first time. The four-day event drew a record 500 attendees, including 51 CEOs, presidents, and executive and senior vice presidents.

Educating Executives

While complaints were flying, there also was constructive discussion on how to better educate executives.

Margaret McKenzie Causby, senior vice president and compliance officer at Old Point National Bank, Hampton, Va., said it is the compliance person's responsibility to discuss problems with the executive. "Don't wait for management to come to you," Ms. Causby said.

A good way to grab top executives' attention is to drive home the fact that examiners will focus on how involved senior managers are in regulatory compliance. This involvement will factor into the bank's performance rating.

That understood, the compliance officer should then give a rundown of possible penalties, not just for noncompliance with high-profile requirements like the Community Reinvestment Act, but for everything, including flood insurance.

Mr. Lewis said most executives don't have a grasp on the trouble they could face. "I don't mean they're stupid," he said. "I mean they don't have the knowledge. Educate them now."

Document Everything

Once the officer has the car of his manager, said Mr. …

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