Let's Call a Cease-fire in the GC vs. CCO Debate

On Board

, Corporate Counsel


It's time to call it quits in the ongoing debate over the general counsel/chief compliance officer relationship.

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What's being said

  • Holding onto the table leg. (Shut up!)

  • These sands have already shifted so the line is not drawn at a tie. Just not so that the status quo is the GC controlling compliance to enforce cooperation and colloboration.

  • "This is the perspective that the job of compliance officer is to advise on what is legally appropriate and legally inappropriate..."

    Yikes! Where to start? If you understand anything at all about compliance you know that no one is suggesting the Compliance Officer give out legal advice. As the govt said in Pfizer: "Management should hear both arguments"- Legal and Compliance. With a standalone CCO, Legal is STILL the owner of Legal risks, in fact that‘s critical to a strong compliance program, but within the frame of an effective compliance program overseen by the CCO. The straw man about attorney client privilege is meant to scare people. Has the author warned the last 5 big banks that created standalone CCOs that they have accidentally given away their privilege? (Guess JP Morgan, HSBC, Barclays, Goldman and UBS they didn‘t get that memo.) This boils down to some not wanting an independent CCO voice in the C-Suite vs what is needed for a strong effective compliance program with its own separate mandate. Other than straw men and distractions, we‘ve never heard a good reason why this is a bad thing.

  • So now is the time to stop talking? Putting aside the irony of suggesting silence to CECOs, which is the antithesis of what ethics and compliance programs are all about, why would this be best for the organizations, professions, and society that we all serve? How then do we continue to improve and innovate without healthy debate and conversation? Actually, I can‘t think of a more productive effort.

  • This is like suggesting we call an end to the debate for the independence of the Internal Auditor. We tried that once and ended up with another mountain of additional regulations. Those who advocate for interfering with Compliance Officer’s independence are asking for additional regulations. Justifying giving up on the independence for the Compliance Officer because some people want to prevent their independence is not a winnable argument. It was not a winnable argument for those who wanted to interfere with the Internal Auditors Independence. And it won’t be a winnable argument for those who want to interfere with the independence of the Compliance Officer. If we end up with another mountain of regulations we should hold the people who prevented Compliance Officer independence…. accountable.

  • This is a new argument! Let‘s stop discussing this! Like calling a Little League game when the score is 117-12? Sorry, but the stakes are high for companies, the momentum is clear and the "debate" is not ending- even if some don‘t like where it is going.

  • Well said.

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