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The Rise of Chief Compliance Officers and More 2021 Predictions

The 2021 outlook for financial and risk reporting teams in financial services
December 18, 2020

The end of a year is always a time for reflection, both in our personal and professional lives. With 2020 coming to a close, let's all take a moment to say, "WOW!" 

This past year has changed us: how we work, how we live, how we learn—even how we do our grocery shopping. We've had to let go of the concept of "normalcy" and unwillingly embrace uncertainty. As a result, 2020 has been a year of adapting, resilience, and figuring out how to forge a new path forward.

With the pressures of 2020 spilling over into next year, we know financial reporting, regulatory reporting, risk, and control teams in the financial services industry will be seeking stability and simplicity in the way they work.

That opens the door for exciting new trends in 2021, such as the rise of the chief compliance officer (CCO). This is especially true in the investment world, where CCOs have played a critical role in maintaining the hard-earned trust of firms' clients, investors, customers, and key stakeholders in uncertain times.

Here's what else we're seeing in the year ahead in the financial services industry.

1. Expect a greater need for regulatory and supervisory offerings

There continues to be a desire to streamline data consolidation and filing capabilities for the vast amounts of required regulatory reports, from statutory filings to disclosures, and beyond.

Enhancing the connectivity of shared data across a suite of filings while maintaining and demonstrating control of data and complying with new regulations is a crucial need.

As we wait for nonessential workers to receive COVID-19 vaccines, it will be a long time before teams can meet in person for the dreaded all-nighters to triple-check numbers and data before reporting deadlines. 

Bottom line: We predict a new willingness in the C-suite to heed calls from chief actuaries, financial reporting directors, and compliance leaders to invest in technology that enables remote work, real-time collaboration, streamlined certification workflows, and automation of data quality assurance steps.

2. Cross-functional data aggregation and reconciliation will become more important

Every day, businesses capture, share, and use data to make strategic decisions. Yet it's been said that 60-73% of data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics, according to Forrester.

Data is a key organizational commodity that can be used for everything from detecting anomalies, spotting trends, managing risk, and finding new ways to compete. But information needs to be shared with the right people and in an easy-to-understand format.

Bottom line: The ability to understand connected data to properly oversee and govern will be a strategic advantage going forward.

3. Operational resilience and efficiency initiatives will come into the spotlight

If anything, 2020 taught the world that the ability to have sound and resilient processes is critical to keep an organization functioning efficiently.

Led by the back office, the financial services industry will seek out technology with workflow capabilities aimed at streamlining and improving process management while reducing operational risk from manual work.

Bottom line: Wasting time with manual copying and pasting, printouts, and a red pen is out. Automating low-value tasks, so teams can get on with high-level work that demands their expertise is in.

4. Technology will unleash the power to lead 

Through the necessity of connected processes—and as team members move into new roles or engage with other groups—technology users have expanded the use of specific platforms or applications across their organizations. This organic proliferation has highlighted the need to enhance enablement for DIY use of tech platforms for faster adoption.

At Workiva, we have seen how leaders in charge of implementing our platform to streamline SEC reporting, for example, have expanded to internal controls, internal reporting, and investor relations teams, so they also can take advantage of connected data, reporting, and compliance capabilities.

Regulators are also noting the role of executives who often don't get the glory or power they deserve, like an actuarial team or a chief compliance officer. 

"We notice when CCOs are expected to create policies and procedures, but are not given the resources to hire personnel or engage vendors to provide systems to implement those policies and procedures," said Peter Driscoll, Director of the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), in a recent speech. "But we do also see good practices where CCOs are routinely included in business planning and strategy discussions and brought into decision-making early-on, not for appearances, but for their meaningful input." 

Bottom line: The people responsible for maintaining the reputation of the enterprise in the eyes of bank, insurance, or investment data consumers will gain more clout in leading innovation and digital transformation for their organizations.

That's something we would love to say "WOW" about in 2021.

About the Author

Arthy Kumar is the Director of Product Marketing and Financial Services Industry Principal at Workiva. She drives the go-to-market strategy, execution, and success of reporting and compliance solutions for banking, investment, and insurance companies. Arthy’s previous roles at Workiva include Director of Program Management for Investments and Subject Matter Expert. Before joining Workiva in 2012, Arthy spent 14 years at Vanguard and MetLife. Her experience includes financial planning, portfolio analysis, relationship management of large institutional clients, and people management. She is a CFP® (Certified Financial PlannerTM) professional and a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).

About the Author

Heather Priory is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for financial services at Workiva. She drives the go-to-market strategy and execution for Workiva solutions supporting banking and insurance. Before joining Workiva in 2020, Heather spent 17 years in the financial services industry in a wide range of roles, including enterprise data management, CCAR, model risk management, and enterprise strategic transformation. Her research and areas of interest include big data and analytics, explainable AI, and machine learning. 

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