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Compliance Risk Study: Compliance function at a crossroads

Accenture’s 2016 Compliance Risk Study calls for building the compliance function of the future.


Accenture’s 2016 Compliance Risk Study uncovered good and bad news for the compliance risk function.

On the plus side, demand on compliance is growing—both in scale and in complexity. But the increased need has been met with slowed growth in the compliance function’s stature.

To keep pace with demand, the compliance function will need to change. But how? See our 2016 study for some starting points.


"According to study respondents, only 31 percent of compliance functions now report to the CEO—a 9 percent drop from the 2014 level."

By the Numbers

Accenture’s 2016 Compliance Risk Study surveyed more than 150 leading compliance officers
from banking, capital markets and insurance institutions around the globe.

The study gleaned these insights from respondents:

Accenture front line process

Front line processes

79% of respondents agree that compliance will take a more active role in front line processes

View study 

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Accenture risk resourcing

Risk resourcing

81% of respondents agree that compliance will optimize operations to manage a more complex set of risks under tighter resourcing conditions

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Accenture chief data officers

Chief Data Officers

87% of respondents agree that senior data officers will emerge as a critical organizational link for compliance

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Accenture invest

Invest in new topics

79% of respondents agree that compliance will invest in coverage of new topics such as digital platform, currencies, etc.

View study 

Previous compliance reports: 2015 | 2014


The Accenture 2016 Compliance Risk Study results point to several trends—as well as a need for the function to offer more tangible, sustainable outcomes.

According to the study:

  • Demands on compliance have been rising. As business functions have become more complex, so, too, has the need for compliance support.

  • The compliance function’s growth in stature is slowing. Two years ago, more compliance officers were winning seats at the executive table. That trend appears to have stalled.

  • When improving operations, compliance organizations should focus on delivering meaningful results—in response to more complex expectations—with fewer resources.

In response to these trends, we believe compliance leaders will need to keep making the difficult choices that support delivering excellent risk management services, and keep asserting a leadership role within the business.

"Most study respondents (81 percent) agree compliance will need to optimize operations to help manage more complex risks."

Pivoting to the new

Accenture believes now is the time for compliance to start building its function of the future. These action steps can help:

  • Reassert and clarify the compliance function’s role and mandate

  • Improve resource utilization

  • Prioritize high quality data and technology architecture advancements

  • Develop strong compliance talent

  • Communicate the results of what may become a multi-year transformation journey

The window for mobilizing and delivering early results is short. Compliance officers can begin now to shape the compliance function of the future.