Top 5 Compliance Challenges Facing Financial Services in 2022

Hot off the digital press is Thomson Reuters’ 13th annual Cost of Compliance survey, highlighting the key compliance challenges facing risk and regulatory professionals within financial services.

The report also affirms a rise of compliance culture with many organisations reassessing their approach in this era of digitalisation and hybrid working.   

Developments in ESG, crypto assets, operational resilience and digital transformation have increased the complexity of compliance challenges and defined regulatory change, sparking a greater need for compliance than ever before. With this comes increased performance pressures which are compounded by competing priorities, tightened budgets and shortages of skilled talent. 

“Compliance functionality is a fundamental part of the in-house core competency required to secure the long-term success of (financial services firms)” says Thomson Reuters’ Regulatory Expert and survey co-author, Susannah Hammond. “Many are struggling to meet their commitments while maintaining an appropriate risk and compliance culture”. 

Here are the top five challenges compliance professionals expect to face in the coming 12 months: 

Compliance Challenge 1: Volume of regulatory changes

Nearly three in four (74%) survey respondents expecting an increase in regulatory activity. “As the financial services sector has developed, so have the risks that compliance professionals need to monitor on a daily basis” writes Susannah. Regulatory Intelligence saw over 64,000 regulatory alerts across 190 countries during 2021, the second-highest amount since 2008.  

Compliance Challenge 2: Lack of budget

The emerging challenge is that the tightening of compliance budgets will make it more difficult for the compliance function to deliver successfully on the broadening range of activities now being asked of them. Despite the widening compliance duties and budgets remaining largely unchanged year-on-year, there remains some optimism in the survey with more than 3 in 5 (62%) of respondents expecting an increase in budgets.  

Compliance Challenge 3: Availability of skilled resources

Whilst the most obvious change is the increasing need for technology understanding, more than half (53%) of the respondents In Australasia reported the need to recruit more skilled and knowledgeable staff. When asked to identify the top three specific skills needed for the compliance function, respondents selected subject matter expertise, attention to detail and communication and the difficulty in fulfilling this demand. 

Compliance Challenge 4: Effective compliance monitoring  

Some compliance functions will be expected to do more with less while over a third (35%) of respondents said they expect the size of their compliance teams to grow in the next 12 months. Practitioners also expect more compliance involvement in data analytics, tax, communications, social media and public exposure as well as designing products and processes, . 

Compliance Challenge 5: Cyber resilience

Organisations are aware of the risks around cybersecurity so it’s no surprise that this year’s survey found more than half (55%) of the respondents are expecting more compliance function involvement in assessing cyber resilience. Relevant and ongoing training with a reputable provider can help to recognise the warning signs of cybercrime and protect your firm from cyber breaches. 

“Without continued investment in technology and data capability, ASIC runs the risk of its effectiveness being diminished and, at worst, of ASIC becoming irrelevant over time.”

Speech by Joseph Longo, Chair at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

Managing the pace of compliance change 

The future of the compliance function will continue to be data & technology driven, integrated throughout the business, embedded in culture, and with more automation, skills and expertise.  

Financial services firms are already embracing digital transformation and moving compliance to a more automated environment, however all resources will need to become more sophisticated to make the type of changes required by compliance professionals. 

“The findings in the report are intended to help financial services organisations with planning and resourcing while allowing them to benchmark their own approaches with those of the wider industry”, says regulatory expert and survey co-author Mike Cowan. “The experiences of the global systemically important banks are analyzed where these can provide a sense of the stance taken by the world’s largest financial services firms.” 

Access the full 2022 Cost of Compliance report via the form on this page.

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