In the third of three posts on the future enforcement of U.K. financial crimes, we explore how to prevent misconduct before it begins by implementing an effective business conduct programme. See the first and second posts in the series.
Each of the four trends related to enforcement of financial crimes in the U.K. underscores the need for businesses to have an effective business conduct programme that encourages a healthy, “speak-up” corporate culture. Organisations should consider taking the following five steps to ensure that their programme best mitigates their risk:
Establish a robust business conduct programme that blends the right content, technology, and expertise to best support a strong corporate culture.
According to the Ethics Resource Centre's most recent U.S. National Business Ethics Survey, “when companies value ethical performance and build strong cultures, misconduct is substantially lower. A strong culture backed by an effective business conduct programme is an organisation’s best approach to mitigating risk.
Report any potential violations of the law to the appropriate authorities promptly, and cooperate fully in any investigation. Particularly with the potential for DPAs, having a robust business conduct programme will be essential to receiving reduced penalties—or even to avoiding prosecution altogether, as Morgan Stanley did in the U.S. Similarly, full cooperation with the investigating authority will be central to being a candidate for a DPA.
Offer employees a variety of ways to raise concerns internally.
All organisations should have a whistleblower hotline service to augment reporting to managers, human resources, the compliance office or legal team. When issues are raised, ensure that they are investigated promptly and thoroughly using tools like an incident management software solution.
Distribute “speak up” policies companywide.
Ensure employees are trained on their duty to report and managers are trained on how to handle reports and prevent retaliation.
- Ensure active oversight by your board of directors.
Boards need to better understand their role in ensuring proper business conduct—including ensuring that financial crimes are not seen as “part of doing business”—and in holding executives accountable.
The legal and compliance landscape is changing quickly. It’s up to organisations that are subject to U.K.laws—which is nearly every organisation that does business in the U.K.—to strengthen their compliance programmes to meet these new challenges.