Last week I wrote a post about the best proportion of staff to have working in compliance. My husband – who for reasons of marital harmony is a dedicated and generally complimentary reader of this blog – is an engineer by training and he made an excellent observation. “Why do you call it compliance?” he asked. “Wouldn’t it be better received and understood if you called it – and treated it as – quality control?”
When he worked in an aircraft factory, he tells me, every part of the aircraft was regularly checked by quality control – often (coincidentally) one part in every ten off the production line. Some would be tested to destruction, and others just to within normal tolerances. Along the way, this meant that the factory was complying with all sorts of safety and manufacturing legislation, but the primary focus was on ensuring that the company was making parts to the standard to which it had agreed.
Surely this is what we should wish for the financial sector too: that they should supply products and services to the expected standard. And that standard includes not allowing them to be contaminated by criminal money. So maybe we should stop calling them compliance departments, and rebrand them as quality control – after all, people might complain about having to comply with laws with which they do not agree, but who could disagree (with any dignity or credibility) with wanting to attain and maintain high levels of quality?