In January, we surveyed the compliance community to find out what your priorities are for 2023. We asked about what you’re focusing on this year, the most important thing you’re working on, and the area of law you’re most focused on this year.

Survey Says! What Your Priorities are for 2023...

We all know the expression “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

While this may be true some of the time, when it comes to compliance offices and their honest answers to survey questions, the statistics never lie!

In January, we surveyed the compliance community to find out what your priorities are for 2023.

We asked about what you’re focusing on this year, the most important thing you’re working on, and the area of law you’re most focused on this year.

The responses were exciting and sometimes very surprising. Let’s dig in, shall we?

What are your biggest areas of focus for 2023?

 

The first question we asked is “what are your biggest focus areas for 2023?”

For this question, we allowed multiple answers. The biggest focus? Training.

57% of you are focused on training this year, narrowly followed by risk assessment at 52%. Policies and procedure development/refresh/management came in third with 47% of responses. Communications tied policies and procedures at 47% to come in joint third.

The bottom three areas were investigations (23%), conflicts of interest management (21%), and building the compliance team (20%).

Of the choices, what is your highest priority for 2023?

 

This question elicited a much more nuanced distribution than the previous question. For this question, only one answer could be chosen.

At the top of the pile was policy and procedure development/refresh/management at 24%. This is unsurprising, as policy and procedures ranked in the top three focus areas for the majority of survey respondents.

What is surprising is that training development/refresh came in as the top focus for only 15% of respondents. Although 57% of respondents are focused on training this year, only 15% of respondents have it at the top of their priority list.

Similarly, although risk assessment is a focus this year for the majority of survey participants (52%), it’s only the most important focus for 14% of people. Risk assessment lurks in the background as important, but not the most important activity.

What’s at the bottom of survey responses? Investigations and conflicts of interest management both scored as the highest priority for just 2% of respondents. Conflicts management being low on the list isn’t surprising as it scored at the bottom of the major focus areas people chose for 2023. The same was true of investigations, so the responses track for questions 1 and 2.

What substantive area is the most important focus for you in 2023?

 

The last question on our survey dealt with substantive areas of law. The usual suspects were on the list – bribery, privacy, antitrust/competition, trade compliance, money laundering, ESG, modern slavery/human trafficking, and the catch-all “other.” For this question, only one answer was allowed.

Which substantive area of law ranks highest?

It probably won’t surprise you that bribery/corruption ranked first in the survey with 36% of respondents saying that is the most important area of law for 2023. Originally, the field of corporate compliance came out of the bribery space, so it’s natural that this area of law is top of mind.

Close on the heels of bribery and corruption for the top spot is privacy. Privacy law is in a major expansionary phase right now. The California Consumer Privacy Act has recently been bolstered by the California Privacy Rights Act. Four other US states have enacted privacy-related regulation (Utah, Colorado, Connecticut and Virginia), and many others are in the process (I’m looking at you New York and Washington).

In addition, the European Commission is on the brink of an adequacy decision that may re-enable easy data transfer from the EU to the US. In October 2022, President Biden signed an executive order meant to meet the requirements of the EU’s GDPR such that a voluntary program similar to the Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield programs could restart. If that happens, there will be a huge sigh of relief within the compliance profession and in the business community. Fingers crossed!

Back to the survey. ESG is climbing in the ranks, with 16% of respondents stating that this area is their top focus. Trade sanctions only ranked highest with 10% of respondents. Considering the ongoing challenges with the war in Ukraine and ever-escalating Russian sanctions, this outcome was a surprise.

The least popular answer to this question was money laundering. Only 1% of respondents ranked this as their most important focus. Since this blog and website focus primarily on corporate compliance as opposed to financial services compliance, this is, perhaps, unsurprising.

Key Takeaways

The compliance industry is abuzz with a strong focus on the basics. Training, communications, and policy drafting/refresh are major focuses, as are risk assessments. Anti-bribery remains king (or queen, whichever you prefer). Privacy is becoming more and more important, and ESG is moving up the totem pole as well.

This year promises to hold new legislation and regulation, as well as new sanctions and disclosure requirements. It’s an exciting time in the profession.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey. We appreciate it! Onwards and upwards! Wishing everyone a fantastic 2023.

Spark Compliance Consulting assists companies in all of the major projects identified in the survey. We perform compliance risk assessments, program evaluations, policy drafting/refresh, training creation, and the creation of investigations and conflicts of interest programs. We advise on anti-bribery, privacy, ESG, and others. Contact us at kgranthart@sparkcompliance.com or go to www.sparkcompliance.com for further information.

Kristy Grant-Hart

CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.

She’s a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.

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Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She's a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.

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