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ASIC’s signal relevant to all Australian businesses, says PolicyPoint

Following ASIC Chairman, Tony D’Aloisio's comments - in the wake of the Opes Prime / ANZ Investigation - that robust compliance procedures are “imperative” in volatile times, compliance education specialist PolicyPoint urges business to consider four quick steps to boost their compliance culture.
  • 19 March, 2009 16:01

<p>“ASIC’s comments reflect a well-founded concern that the strain of recessionary conditions will see more organisations falling short of their compliance obligations,” comments Rob Pieiga, PolicyPoint’s GM- Service Delivery.</p>
<p>“Under normal circumstances, the continued ability to operate is a powerful incentive towards compliance. However, recessionary conditions mean a company’s profitability and even survival is threatened, the pressures arise to cut compliance corners, especially if compliance is seen as a ‘cost’ rather than a benefit to the organisation.”</p>
<p>“PolicyPoint joins ASIC in reminding organisations that they must ensure adequate compliance and risk management arrangements are in place to meet their obligations, even as the market tightens. As a strong compliance culture is business’ best defense against the risk of compliance breaches, we urge business executives – especially those charged with compliance and risk management – to make their compliance culture a corporate priority.”</p>
<p>Noting that companies are unlikely to support initiatives that don’t mirror their current mindset, Pieiga recommends that executives consider the quick, cost-effective initiatives that ensure everyone understands that doing their job includes working productively AND in accordance with regulatory and business obligations.</p>
<p>Pieiga’s recommendations for executives charged with risk and compliance measures include:</p>
<p>• Face the issue squarely
The first question you need to ask – perhaps with some input from the CFO and/or outside auditors – is “what are the key risks for the business”? While your answer will include specific legal and financial risks, there should also be defined opportunities - such as staff pulling together to trim costs and boost productivity – that contribute to corporate goals.</p>
<p>• Highlight policies and procedures that reflect the risks (and opportunities)
It’s likely that you already have policies and procedures in place that specify your compliance obligations. Additionally – and it may be necessary to quickly develop specific policies that address current economic circumstances – ensure staff understand the company’s productivity and cost reduction requirements.</p>
<p>• Ensure these policies are known (not just known to exist)
Creating policies – even putting them on the Intranet or even emailing them to staff – is not enough to create a compliance culture. Unfortunately, up to two-thirds of your staff are likely to either not read, or not finish, reviewing your vital policies: rendering your compliance education initiatives a complete waste.</p>
<p>If your organisation has policies or procedures that must be understood, it’s vital to back them with measures that track that employees actually read and understand the policies they must comply with. (The good news is that automated services now exist that automate this process – among these, PolicyPoint also maintains an audit trail of which staff have completed their compliance training obligations).</p>
<p>• Repeat, repeat, repeat
Keep compliance obligations top-of-mind by having staff repeat their review of policies and procedures regularly– at least annually for ‘everyday’ policies, more frequently for policies that change or that are core to your compliance obligations.</p>
<p>Ultimately, comments Pieiga, there is no way now to know how the current global economic crisis will turn out.</p>
<p>“But what we do know is that tough times present a significant opportunity for organisations to show their worth by developing solid, cost-effective programs that minimise risk and aid both compliance and corporate objectives,” he concludes.</p>
<p>- ends –</p>
<p>About PolicyPoint
PolicyPoint Pty Ltd is the Australian-based developer of POLICYPOINT, an online business service that helps create a compliance culture by ensuring corporate policies and procedures are top-of-mind with staff. POLICYPOINT is a proven compliance management system used by legal, financial, manufacturing and government organisations in Australia and New Zealand.
Further information is available at www.policypoint.com.</p>
<p>For further information, contact:
Tracy Pendergast
Pentica PR for PolicyPoint
tracy@pentica.com.au
0411 034 868</p>

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