10 Things Compliance Officers in APAC Must Do This Year

2020 saw landmark enforcement actions from regulators across Asia-Pacific as financial institutions across the region paid $5.1 billion in fines for anti-money laundering failures.

By March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had begun to grip economies, demonstrating the interconnectivity of the worldwide financial sector. The pandemic has wreaked extensive disruption to all businesses, and this is likely to continue well into 2021, with credit risks, insolvencies and unemployment all likely to increase.

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Remote working and “on-off” lockdowns may continue for some time, forcing firms to interface with customers differently and to be flexible regarding the repayment of loans or other credit facilities. These developments may lead firms to identify new opportunities and seek alternatives ways of doing business. There is some evidence firms have been addressing compliance problems head-on and dealing with issues at an early stage, while balancing commercial initiatives with regulatory requirements.

Irrespective of size, jurisdiction or sector of their firm, compliance officers should consider the following in 2021: 

1. Operational resilience — ensure continuity

2. Cyber security, data protection and anti-financial crime management

3. Anti-money laundering — highest-ever penalties in Asia

4. Consumer/investor protection

5. Digital transformation — balancing technological innovation with compliance imperatives

6. Regulatory reach and burden — understanding the regulatory focus

7. Accountability — resetting culture

8. Upskilling and training to meet technology requirements

9. Risk management agility and the growth of climate and ESG-related issues

10. Complaints and remediation

These 10 regulatory insights for Asia may help firms to think through the many challenges facing them, and to respond to the compliance and regulatory issues at hand.

To learn more about these challenges and how firms can prepare for them, download your copy of “ten things compliance officers in Asia-Pacific must do this year” expert talk, written by Niall Coburn, Senior Regulatory Intelligence Expert for Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence. 

The temporary relief provided to firms by regulators is short-term, but the remote working and the pandemic hardships will continue to bring challenges for firms well into 2021. Regulators will expect firms to fully adapt their policies and procedures to deal with such risks.

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Niall Coburn is the Regulatory Intelligence Expert at Thomson Reuters in the Asia-Pacific region and a Barrister at the Queensland Bar.

As an expert on regulatory issues at Thomson Reuters, Niall writes articles, white papers, gives presentations in the region and liaises with the banking industry internationally concerning regulatory developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, he was the regional Managing Director at FTI consulting, responsible for leading its Regulatory and Forensic Investigation Practice in Australia. FTI is a global consulting firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange with 500 offices worldwide.

Niall was also a Senior Lawyer and Specialist Adviser at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. In this role he led high-profile investigations into complex corporate crime cases. He has also worked internationally, being part of a team that created the regulatory structure for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Niall was appointed Director of Enforcement at the DIFC in 2003 and worked with international law enforcement agencies to combat financial crime.

Niall has also worked in the Asia-Pacific region in his own consultancy, Coburn Intelligence in China and Hong Kong, investigating major frauds and misleading conduct in the investment industry.

Niall was awarded an Australia Day Honour from the Commonwealth Government for his work leading major criminal investigations at ASIC. He is a Barrister of the High Court of Australia and a member of the Queensland Bar Association and the International Bar Association.


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