Tips for an Effective Regulatory Compliance Training Program

It's hard to avoid a learning curve when it comes to finance-related regulatory compliance. Federal legislation rarely stays the same, meaning managers must make sure their finance and accounting teams (and all employees in some cases) are constantly on their toes to avoid penalties and added costs.

Businesses may be aware of the basic tenets of certain regulations but fail to account for some of the lesser-known and often-overlooked aspects of a law, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). For example, most finance and accounting professionals know SOX compliance requires verification of routine financial statements.  However, details in the fine print may apply to your business without you even realizing it.

While most chief financial officers in a Robert Half Management Resources survey  survey expressed confidence in their finance staff members' regulatory expertise, organizations and their teams must avoid becoming complacent or falling into a  false sense of security. One way managers can gain more control over the compliance process is to invest in regulatory-related training. 

The following tips can help reduce the learning curve for accounting and finance teams:

Make sure everyone is on board

Consider that everyone involved with compliance may not be on board with a training project initially. However, gaining buy-in is an essential step in making the initiative successful. Highlight to your employees how the program will help them in their jobs, and share your expectations, including learning objectives and the time that will be required of staff.

Know your options

Compliance training can take on a variety of forms. In addition to in-person sessions, many organizations offer online resources and certification programs that can more easily fit the schedules of busy employees. Choose a method that makes the most sense based on your organization's workload.

Hire a project consultant

Staff augmentation is another way to improve regulatory compliance training. By hiring a consultant who is familiar with regulatory issues, firms can give employees the opportunity to work with and learn from an expert who has years of experience helping companies.

While the training process is more of an internal and ongoing one, a consultant can act as a valuable supplemental resource. Managers can get the most out of engagements with these professionals during the course of a project and afterward by making sure staff members gain the expertise and tools they need to complete future compliance projects on their own.

Plan ahead

Don't put training off until the last minute. Regulatory compliance is a long-term process, and starting as early as possible will lead to a more successful program. The more time your business has to prepare, the lesser the chance your firm ends up incurring penalties or other negative consequences.

What has helped you conduct a successful regulatory compliance training program? What types of information do you recommend companies include?

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