Skemp: Compliance doesn’t have to stand in the way of innovation

It’s somewhat rare for a credit union professional to champion compliance as a friend to innovation. But, that’s exactly what Jason Skemp does in a new white paper written for credit union leaders. A senior manager for regulatory compliance firm PolicyWorks, Skemp authored “Compliance Doesn’t Have to Stand in the Way of Innovation” to encourage credit union executives and managers to rethink the role compliance can have in driving innovation forward.

“Let’s face it. Innovation is hard,” writes Skemp. “Incredibly strong forces challenge and frustrate those leaders seeking to innovate. Regulatory compliance often tops the list of burdens standing in the way of the creativity or change in mindset needed to foster true innovation. Yet, as the stories and perspectives contained in this paper show, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

One of the stories Skemp shares is of a Midwestern credit union facing down a necessary retooling of its short-term lending product to meet NCUA guidlines. Finding a solution to the problem, Skemp writes, is a form of innovation, albeit a less glamorous version.

“Regulatory compliance, while often viewed as a hindrance to innovation, can actually be a motivator. In some cases, innovation is forced upon a credit union because of new or updated regulation. In others, the need to develop fresh products or tweak existing ones comes about as the result of an exam finding.”

Another of the stories shared in the paper describes how a credit union involves the compliance officer in its product development committee This ensures the credit union can identify and address any regulatory trouble spots early on in the innovation process.

Skemp also shares tips for eradicating what he calls the compliance stigma. “Compliance officers will tell you their teams often suffer from the stigma of leading the ‘No Department.’ That’s because their guidance can often be viewed as stifling to new ideas. There are several factors that perpetuate this idea. With some adaptation of the way things have always been done, that can change.”

The full white paper, “Compliance Doesn’t Have to Stand in the Way of Innovation,” is available for download on the PolicyWorks website.

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