The message that compliance can become a proactive function and generate a competitive advantage for companies is not easy to pass, as compliance is often perceived as a bureaucratic and blocker element with respect to business. But the situation is expected to change. In fact, compliance not only can, but needs to generate a competitive advantage for those companies that will be able to revolutionize their approach and equip themselves with appropriate technological tools, such as our RegTech SaaS Daitomic. In order to validate this hypothesis and to raise awareness about state of the art, critical issues and prospects for technological innovation in the compliance sector - both in finance and in other highly regulated areas -, we decided to interview some of the most experienced people on the Italian scene, within our new Compliance Talks column. The first person we had the pleasure of interviewing was Michela Turri, Managing Director at Aksilia Group.
Michela, tell us more about who you are and what you do for your company.
«I started my career as a Certified Public Accountant and Auditor, but I have been working in corporate compliance for over 20 years. At Aksilia Group, I develop services for clients, working closely with the internal business units in the regulatory field, each of them with specific skills according to the relevant legislation. Mine is a work of integration to reduce the company's effort, generating concrete and immediate value in responding to regulations».
What do you enjoy most about your job and what would you be happy to avoid?
«I am passionate about strategy and business vision, therefore I am always looking for innovative ways to create value for our customers. However, I also have to deal with operational activities and practical support, two aspects that are often a burden, especially when proper tools and clear organization are lacking. I would like to be able to devote more time to the realization of strategies and visions with a broad impact for customers».
What are the main skills a Compliance Officer must have in your opinion?
«The Compliance Officer is a figure that is becoming more and more important in any company, as he or she is responsible for ensuring the company's regulatory compliance, but also has a role as a guarantor, educator and facilitator in the adoption of good practices. He or she needs to have transversal skills, thus having a more integrated and comprehensive view of the regulations and all the policies that have to be followed at company level».
What is the main problem or limitation in the area of compliance?
«One of the main problems is the lack of clarity and integrated management. In many cases, this results in a lack of compliance with existing regulations, implying a major effort on the part of the company to be adequate. Compliance should be managed with a more integrated view and greater awareness of the company's process and business. Compliance is an essential function, which ensures the sustainability and legality of the organization's operations, avoids unnecessary costs, improves reputation with internal and external stakeholders, and also ensures greater long-term success of businesses».
What would you like to change from the current way you do compliance?
«I would like to achieve a greater delegation of responsibility to the people in the team, but also to streamline the operational process, automating certain activities that are repetitive, so that I can have more time to develop projects with greater added value for clients and to achieve the set goals»
Do you think there are sufficient resources dedicated to compliance in Italy?
«In my opinion, it is crucial to invest more in corporate compliance, because it is not just about compliance, but has a broader organizational logic. Ensuring regulatory compliance is obviously a priority, but it is equally important to adopt a corporate culture based on ethics, transparency, and social responsibility. This requires adequate investments in compliance, both in terms of processes and human resources. And any organization that complies also promotes an ethical and responsible culture, but also gains greater trust from stakeholders, resulting in long-term competitive advantages. I believe that, to date, people working in corporate compliance have often not been adequately trained in the need for innovation that exists in the management of the compliance process, so it is certainly necessary to create a culture in this sense as well. At Aksilia Group, we do training to create a more innovative and integrated approach to compliance, with a transversal vision, which takes into account the immediate impact on the business. Even if compliance is always seen as something that does not give value, whereas it is closely linked to business continuity. A change of paradigm, of mindset, is needed. We are trying to do this also in respect to ESG objectives, therefore sustainability and governance, but also towards innovative services that favor a digital approach to compliance. We need an integration of innovative models and systems with a broader vision, which also involves top-level management in understanding the direct impact that compliance has on the business and the company».
In which steps of compliance processes would you most need the support of innovative solutions?
«One is certainly the one you have taken as the focus (regulatory alerting, ed.), a key part that needs to be taken into serious consideration, so as to plan actions to close gaps and exploit them as competitive advantages. Another aspect of compliance processes we work on is the management of risks related to regulatory non-compliance, hence the Risk Analysis that we do with respect to the impacts of non-compliance».
Do you currently use technology tools to support your work?
«We use our GRC - Aksilia Suite -, an integrated system to support companies in managing compliance risks, to assess the risk and the impact that compliance has on the company. The goal is to effectively manage the wide range of business processes, monitor performance and costs, adapt to changing market and regulatory needs of customers, and ensure flexibility and scalability in compliance».
If you had a magic wand, what tool would you create to support your work?
«Certainly a tool that automates regulatory alerts and allows planning even in anticipation of regulatory changes, like your platform (Daitomic, ed.) does, would also speed up the study and analysis that we constantly face in order to adapt processes, activities and practical actions to be put in practice. Also with respect to business risk analysis, we are working on making it as automatic as possible».
Turning to current issues, how do you comment on the recent crises of major companies such as SVB and Credit Suisse? What impact will they have on the financial ecosystem?
«These events will have to act as a warning, because the lack of transparency in governance does indeed generate great concern for companies and for the financial system as a whole. Therefore, a proper compliance management is needed to ensure business continuity, stability and growth of companies is crucial».
Even in the Crypto and Fintech sectors there have been examples of lack of stability (FTX bankruptcy, sanctions at N26, etc.): how much will regulation affect these sectors?
«These are sectors that will continue to grow, but they will necessarily be regulated, because a lack of regulation leads to instability and unreliability, so we need effective legislation to avoid security and trust issues that could hinder growth and development. Proper regulation must ensure transparency, fairness and a favorable environment for competition and sustainable growth».
Finally, what do you think about the possibility of applying Generative AI like ChatGPT to compliance or, more generally, to regulatory analysis?
«Generative AI is absolutely a great opportunity, which we have to integrate and think we can bring to the service of companies. Therefore, besides the privacy issue that still needs to be investigated (consultation of the Garante della Privacy in Italy, ed.), it is essential that we deepen this type of integration and approach».