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The compliance function in banks

Jonathan Edwards (Senior lecturer in the School of Finance and Law, Bournemouth University)
Simon Wolfe (University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK; tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3118; fax: +44 (0)23 8059 3844; e‐mail:

Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance

ISSN: 1358-1988

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a consultation paper in late 2003 on the compliance function in banks. The aim of the consultation paper is to set out the views of banking supervisors and provide basic guidance for banks. Whereas there is no attempt to prescribe a uniform approach, a clear set of general principles is laid down for the role of the compliance function within banking organisations. Furthermore, recognition is given to the fact that diversity exists between banks with respect to their internal organisation of the compliance function and also to diversity in the legal and regulatory environment affecting the compliance function across jurisdictions. The core objectives of this paper are to examine the BIS approach to the compliance function and look at how this is likely to evolve. The authors draw on experience from the UK life assurance industry where substantial inroads have been made to embed a compliance competent culture within such types of financial institutions. A partnership approach is highlighted as essential to achieving a viable and meaningful compliance function. Finally, an ethical approach is explored as the possible future direction for banks. The first section reviews the new principles for the compliance function; the second section describes issues that arise; the third section analyses a partnership approach and explores an ethical approach; and the final section provides a summary and conclusion.



Edwards, J. and Wolfe, S. (2004), "The compliance function in banks", Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 216-224.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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