Corporate Compliance Insights’ CEO, Maurice Gilbert, chats with Roy Snell, compliance guru and one of the field’s foremost experts. Roy discusses how the profession has changed over the years, where it’s going and what makes for an effective Corporate Compliance Officer.
Maurice Gilbert: What sparked your interest in developing the HCCA and SCCE professional associations?
Roy Snell: You put this question in an interesting way. The use of the word “sparked” is important. I met a compliance officer over the phone in about 1995 or 1996 and [the experience was] so cathartic we set up a meeting in Minneapolis. About 60 people attended that meeting, which sparked the startup of HCCA. About 10 years ago, we felt there was a need to help compliance and ethics professionals in all industries, so we started SCCE. It was all sparked by the desire to get together and share, which is why any professional association really exists.
MG: What trends have you observed in the compliance profession over the past five years?
RS: The most recent interesting trend is the international growth. At this very moment I have someone promoting this profession and our association in Brussels and another staff member in Hong Kong. I was also recently working on our Board’s strategic planning meeting, which will be in London next year. The numbers are small now, but the future is bright. The other trends are the increase in compliance and ethics officer independence, authority and responsibility here in the U.S.
MG: What do you foresee happening in the compliance profession three years from now?
RS: We will finally have most of the backseat driving over with. I don’t know if other professions experienced this in their early days, but we are besieged with other professions trying to define our role and the function of a compliance program. People with no experience in our profession are really embarrassing themselves opining on our role. They are starting to realize how ill informed they look when they put themselves out there as an expert in a position they never held. Some of them mean well, others want to jump on the bandwagon and there are those who are trying to deliberately alter what should happen to serve their own profession. I believe they are going to discontinue doing this over the next few years.
MG: The HCCA and SCCE associations provide great services to their membership in the way of continuing education and certifications. What other services do the associations provide the members?
RS: One thing we do that most people don’t think about much (because it’s a little hard to describe) is that we try to help our 14,500 members by representing the profession. We work with many related groups to help provide education about the role of a compliance and ethics officer and the function of a compliance program. Many of the people involved in these groups we work with are leaders or Board members of our member’s organization. The more informed our members’ leadership is, the easier it is for our members to successfully perform the job. There is still a lot of misinformation out there. Sometimes it works a little better if the correct information comes from a professional association.
MG: What do you see as being the leading attributes of an effective CCO?
RS: It’s all the soft skills or people skills such as collaboration, negotiation, motivation, compromise, influence, etc. During the hiring process or the discussion about what skills CCOs need, everyone seems to focus on legal, audit, risk, ethics, etc. Business has had all those skills for years and it was deemed that we need something more. The whole reason our profession was started is because society wanted something more. It is my belief that what they wanted was someone who could coordinate the use of all those tools and in the end… effect changes. Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, HealthSouth, Penn State University and many others knew they had a problem for years, but there was no one in the room who could effect change. What they were missing is someone who would bring them a balanced perspective and convince them to fix the problem rather than wait, hope it went away or swept it under the rug.
MG: Compliance departments are often asked to accomplish their work with limited resources…do you see this situation changing any time soon?
RS: No. I think it will be ever increasing, but no amount of increase will be as effective as utilizing the organization’s existing resources. The organization has people in quality control, HR, audit, risk, legal, etc. that can help if the compliance officer would take the time to engage them. An effective compliance officer will also get every department head to help with things like responding to complaints and conducting compliance education specific to their department. Everyone can lend a hand. The effective CCO can make that happen rather than waiting for more resources.
MG: What role do you think an independent GRC magazine such as Corporate Compliance Insights might play in championing the compliance profession?
RS: Everyone can help. We need more education. We need all the help we can get to inform organizational leadership of the role of the CCO. We need all the help we can get in educating and informing this young profession. We have very few schools providing education for CCOs. Everyone can help with the fledgling concepts of CCO and compliance programs.
Roy Snell is the CEO of the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), which together now total more than 12,000 members. Roy was a co-founder and the organization’s first President. He has developed numerous partnerships with government, industry, and other professional associations, and he has facilitated collaboration between the compliance/ethics profession and the enforcement community. Roy has a Master’s degree in Health and Human Services Administration.
Through his work with the two associations, he has overseen the development of compliance and ethics books, manuals, videos, conferences and audio conferences. He has been a regular speaker in the compliance profession for more than 10 years and has spoken internationally for the United Nations on compliance and ethics. He is a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP)®.
Roy writes more than 25 compliance articles annually and has written for several international publications, including European CEO and The European Business Review. Roy is the co-editor of the Health Care Compliance Professional’s Manual and serves as editor, co-editor and advisory board member of several other books, magazines and newsletters. He has served as a source for many media reports, including national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine and Business Week. He has been quoted in international publications such as Financial Times and Ethical Corporation.
Roy is a former Mayo Clinic administrator. He is also a former consultant and compliance officer at the University of Wisconsin. He has participated in the development of compliance program guidance, professional certification programs and the Compliance Professional’s Code of Ethics. He has dedicated more than 15 years to the compliance profession and to the development of compliance programs on an international basis. Roy was named one of Ethisphere’s Most Influential People in Business Ethics in both 2007 and 2010.