For the sixth episode of our Compliance Talks series, we delve into the field of insurance compliance with Antonella Coccia, General Counsel and General Secretary at AXA Partners in Italy and coordinator of the Compliance Officer and Data Protection Officer activities. The sixth interviewee in our column brings us into the world of insurances, where compliance plays a key role. Indeed, just like the financial sector, the insurance sector is highly regulated and therefore characterized by a constant and crucial effort to ensure regulatory compliance.
Antonella, tell us more about who you are and what you do for your company.
«I am the Head of General Secretary, as well as General Counsel, of all AXA Partners companies in Italy. In addition to the Legal & Corporate Affairs team, I also coordinate the activities of the Compliance Officer and the DPO. My company, AXA Partners, is an insurance company of the AXA Group specializing in the assistance and legal protection classes, as well as Credit & lifestyle protection, a guarantee for clients facing an unexpected life event».
What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find most difficult?
«Mine is an extremely dynamic role within the company. We have the goal of ensuring a continuous and constant oversight of the business and protecting, but with the right drive. Honestly, occasions of frustration are rare. Mine is a widely shared strategy in the company I work for. My team and I try to lighten the days a lot, we try to have fun even during the heavier ones. The only times I feel sorry is when, at times, we don't understand each other, when I can't get through to someone all the way».
What’s your typical day like?
«I get up very early in the morning and usually start work around 8, except when I take my son to school, in which case I start a little later. I try to schedule the meetings all after 10 o'clock to have a couple of hours of full concentration on the agenda, the priorities and the important documents that need my reading, although it is not always possible. Then the meetings start, which usually last until the evening. I play little sports, read less than I would like to, or even listen to audiobooks at double speed.... I come home and do not cook, preferring to talk to those I find waiting for me».
What are the main skills a Compliance Officer must have in your opinion?
«From my point of view, the most important skills that a Compliance Officer needs to have are:
What is the main problem or limitation in the area of compliance?
«The main limitation of the compliance function is that it often has a dogmatic approach. An effective and efficient system of internal controls cannot be abstract, but practical, and must take actual risks into account. We always talk about a risk-based approach, but then we end up applying rules that often protect nothing and no one».
Do you think there are sufficient resources dedicated to compliance in Italy?
«Like all back office functions, the compliance function is almost always understaffed. This is partly because, as already mentioned, it is often unable to properly communicate its needs and objectives».
In which steps of compliance processes would you most need the support of innovative solutions?
«In the compliance risk assessment steps, but also with respect to having an integrated dashboard of all internal controls systems».
Do you currently use technology tools to support your work?
«Unfortunately none, we do everything "by hand" with Excel, as per tradition».
If you had a magic wand, what tool would you create to support your work?
«I would like to have a tool that does an impact analysis of every new piece of legislation that goes into effect».
What do you think about the possibility of applying Generative AI like ChatGPT to compliance or, more generally, to regulatory analysis?
«I am not an expert in Artificial Intelligence, but from what I can imagine, it could become an important tool and support for all activities, so also for risk management».
In the last year there have been several crises, including of major players such as SVB and Credit Suisse: how do you comment on these episodes? What impact are they having on the financial ecosystem?
«Crises have always been there and always will be there. In general, I believe that the latest crises have had less impact than many people, including myself, expected. I believe that the "system" is now used to dealing with certain types of crises, absorbing them without excessive impacts».
Crypto and fintech are fast-growing sectors, but they have also shown low financial stability (see FTX bankruptcy, sanctions at N26, etc.): how much will the expected increasing regulation affect these sectors?
«It is very difficult to make predictions. In general, I believe that regulation is necessary in this sector, and if a regulatory framework can be established that, while regulating this sector, does not distort its essential characteristics, we can see in the coming years a new development of these markets».