The rise in rank of group compliance officers: a governance issue

The health and economic crisis has only reinforced the social and societal responsibility of companies.

As part of our work, we have interviewed CEOs, chairmen of boards of directors, audit committees, ethics and CSR committees of various sizes and in various sectors of activity about the role of governance bodies in corporate compliance.

They are unanimous in affirming that compliance has become a governance issue and that the cultural transformation of their company depends above all on their own transformation.

The objective of governance bodies is to ensure solid growth for the company in both the short and long term. 

We know that the board of directors determines the strategy and gives the means to the general management to implement it.

The board therefore has an essential role in the prevention, detection and understanding of risks. It plays a key role in defining and deploying the company’s culture, ethics and values at all levels. We remember the director of Uber who had to resign after a sexist remark to allow the company to rebuild its image and reputation.

Through their dual role of guidance and control, directors have not only the power, but above all the duty to ensure, in particular with the technical support of specialized committees such as the audit committee, the design and efficiency of the various compliance measures to be implemented by operational management.

This can be seen in the recruitments we carry out for groups not only in regulated sectors but also in other sectors.  One of the keys to implementing such a change is the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer who has acquired very solid operational experience to assume the role of true conductor, playing the score of the Comex whose tempo is set by the Board of Directors.

The group compliance officer can thus help to demonstrate that the risks of non-compliance are identified and controlled, that the program is robust and efficient, and inform the stakeholders of the measures taken by the company to prevent and detect failures, offences or risks of offences. It can also testify to the fact that the culture of ethics and compliance has become a value of adherence and exemplarity.

As Philippe Montigny points out, managers are increasingly aware of the fact that introducing compliance issues into the work of the Boards of Directors and the Executive Committee/Chairmen means both protecting the company from heavy penalties affecting its profitability and, above all, providing it with the means to build its sustainable competitiveness based on a constant need to innovate and respond quickly to market expectations.

We recruit compliance officers who understand the business and the workings of the company, and who know how to interact in a cross-functional and matrix manner with all the operational and functional departments in order to assess the operational, legal, financial and non-financial risks.

These very solid group compliance officers also have the courage to bring a pragmatic and critical perspective to the governance bodies. These lively and challenging exchanges enable them to reflect on the strategy, confirm it or redirect it according to future legislative, regulatory and international normative changes that could have an impact on the business, taking into account the expectations of stakeholders. They can thus anticipate the changes or even disruptions required to stay one step ahead of competitors, markets and stakeholder expectations.

Bridges between corporate culture, values and vision

The Board must therefore define a governance charter, agree on common values and visions, choose the strategy and also the leaders capable of implementing it.

How to succeed in such a challenge?

By building bridges and encouraging permanent, global, transversal and matrix, intercultural and interdisciplinary cooperation.

 It is time to associate compliance and culture, a combination that is less obvious at first glance, but which is nevertheless essential for good governance, the sustainability of the organization, the feeling of belonging and the creation of value.

Nurturing a strong relationship between the compliance players and the board of directors enables them to play their role in protecting the company, giving meaning to the action and reassuring the stakeholders.

The result: a more solid organization, more agile in meeting challenges and winning in a changing world, in order to preserve its image and reputation and therefore its competitiveness, value and attractiveness.


President of BCP Partners, a human strategy firm specializing in recruiting for the Finance, Legal, Risk & Compliance and Directors functions and in advising executives on governance / Board of Directors and Executive Committee / Management Board evaluation.

Doctor of Law, Company Director. Co-founder of the Cercle De la Compliance, former Legal Director and Secretary of the Board of Directors of listed companies.