As we discussed in the first blog in this series, Accenture’s 2018 Compliance Risk Study indicated that Compliance functions are exploring innovative approaches to addressing new risks and achieving their strategic goals.

The pressure on Compliance to re-shape the function and to allocate resources to increase efficiency and effectiveness, both as a control function and as a strategic advisor to the business, is greater than ever.  But, after years of increasing headcount as a strategy for managing new threats and greater complexity, Compliance is now facing a scarcity of resources.

Firms have started to reshape the boundaries between the first and second lines of defense and have re-allocated resources to the first line.  According to the 2018 study, about half of organizations surveyed have between 50 and 299 employees who provide compliance support in the first line of defense.

Only 22% of respondents said they now have more than 500 people in their compliance function, representing a 9% drop since last year.  Yet, despite reductions in headcount, Compliance spending is slated to increase.  In line with findings over the last four years, 89% of respondents said that their investment in Compliance will increase over the next two years, indicating that technology is beginning to outpace talent as Compliance’s response to the need for change.

A related insight from our study is that Compliance should re-train its people to realize optimal returns on technology investments.  More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents saw a gap between skills currently available and those required, preventing Compliance from understanding the new risks it faces.

In the next blog in this series, we will look at another key study finding:  The need for Compliance to target continual innovation to respond to the needs of the industry.  For more information, please download the 2018 Compliance Risk Study or view a summary of our key findings in the presentation below.

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