We’ve written several articles about the rise of the General Counsel (GC) and the increased role that GCs play as trusted, strategic advisors to CEOs and corporate directors; now I think that it’s time to bring well-deserved attention to the increased role and importance that Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) are making in every industry, nationwide.
Our compliance practice started during the banking crisis. Long-standing financial clients with whom we had a track record of placing in-house counsel came looking for help in attracting compliance leadership. For many of our clients, it was their first effort to build a formal compliance department. We soon heard from other regulated industries, namely healthcare and energy, looking for the same assistance. For companies not dealing with government investigations or large regulatory penalties, compliance has always been considered a cost center. As we all know, this has all changed.
Over the past two weeks I’ve watched in horror as the media replays video from the two recent airline debacles. Without even seeking out this news, I have now seen each video more than a dozen times. Every time the video is replayed, I watch the reaction of everyone around me, and it’s not good. The blood and screaming must make for great ratings because the media has been relentless.
It occurred to me that when a reporter reads off a billion-dollar fine assessed to a major bank for consumer credit fraud, there’s no emotional video or story attached to it and the people around me barely raise an eyebrow. But, because of their higher visibility, consumer product (and services) companies are experiencing first-hand the reputational risk associated with a breakdown in compliance and the pressure from the media. Overlooking formal training, auditing, and reporting leads to immediate consequences, including the downfall of executive leadership and declining market cap and revenue, none of which the media will soon let us forget.
We’re now witnessing a major rise in demand for CCOs for consumer products and services companies. Please review a case study for a recent BarkerGilmore CPG industry search. I think that it’s fair to say that CCOs have now earned the deserved respect and have risen to become strategic advisors in every facet of business.