Albert Einstein once said, “it has become appallingly obvious that technology has exceeded our humanity”.
Well, sorry Einstein, but at present, we will have to disagree. In this new world, it is in fact technology that has enabled us to reach those we otherwise cannot and to see the faces of colleagues and loved ones we have been temporarily separated from. It isn’t the full package, but it’s as close to human interaction as we can get, and in some ways, it has improved communication and delivery considerably.
The role of the Compliance department is to maintain regulation, monitor training and update the business on ever-changing regulatory policies. Our purpose is to stay ahead of the FCA’s expectations, remain on top of any risks that could impact our clients and keep our Planners and supporting teams developing in the right direction, ensuring high quality performance for clients and the business. During the pandemic it has been imperative that we found a way not only to meet these aims while away from the office, but to find ways to remain engaging, interesting, understandable and… human! Here are some of the ways we’ve adapted to the new working environment.
Communicating more effectively
A lot of what a Compliance department does is to create frameworks for processes within the business and assess the risks that surround the day-to-day tasks each area of the business undertakes. For example, we make sure administrators and client PAs are fully trained and aware of any data protection dangers when they handle post, emails and sensitive data, to protect our clients. We oversee Progeny’s service propositions including all informative, client-facing documentation a planner needs to start the client journey. This enables the planner to provide the client with clear guidance and full transparency on our services and the support they will receive.
For us to carry out these duties effectively, we are reliant on honest feedback from our teams to help us to build these frameworks, foster understanding and increase empathy between all parts of the business. Effective communication is key because it allows us to get the best level of understanding and appreciation that we can, so we can apply better logic to regulation, make policy practical for every department and maintain a healthy business.
The use of a video conferencing platform and chat function has greatly improved the flow of communication between departments and has made obtaining honest feedback and achieving mutual understanding so much easier. We can create chat groups, work parties and friendly forums that have helped to cut through the intimidating and formal stereotype of Compliance. As a result, we are getting better feedback now than ever and long may this continue.
We have also taken the opportunity to rethink how we present and package information, turning some perhaps wearisome word documents into modern blog-style pages and transforming regulatory updates into engaging Q&A articles.
Pioneering approach to the practicalities
There have been many ways that technology has helped us to overcome some of the practical hurdles we have faced in a world of remote working. As a team we have overcome the issue of wet signatures by adopting e-signatures and DocuSign methods. We have implemented email confirmation and improved audit trails which allow us to back up and provide evidence of processes that, for now, we cannot carry out in person. We’re using the technology available to help mitigate risk.
Cybercrime has increased over the course of the pandemic, so we’ve risen to the challenge by rolling out some high-tech virtual training to combat the risk changes in this climate. We have eagerly embraced the software that will allow us to host virtual events such as quarterly training days and monthly updates to our peers. We are currently planning a training day for our Wealth team members that will have all the features of a physical event, like break-out rooms, live polls and custom-made graphics.
As a business that spans the length and breadth of the UK, it’s important for us to be able to reach every Progeny location on the map at the same time to deliver the same message consistently, clearly, and creatively and our embrace of technology has allowed us to do that.
Reaching, connecting and delivering
We’ve demonstrated that not only can we find ways to still reach everyone in a pandemic, but we’ve also actually improved how we’ve connected with them. As a Compliance department, we don’t just send updates, we get up on your laptop screens and deliver them. We’ve used technology to break some social barriers and we’ve given stuffy office etiquette a shake down (within reason). Humour and humanity has flourished over a little thing called the VPN. We are so privileged we have the ability to propel a department like Compliance and its cause through a pandemic and beyond to ensure our work ethic continues to be honourable, providing solutions for clients that meet their needs in a safe and trusted environment.
We have all learnt how to use technology in ways that we wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to find before. I’m sorry Einstein, we haven’t lost humanity through technology; we’ve just found a fun way to find it again!