For a quick definition: A Virtual Compliance Officer is a professional who provides compliance services aimed at ensuring an organization’s adherence to regulatory requirements, remotely or from a remote location. Rather than working in a traditional on-site office environment, a virtual compliance officer uses technology, such as video conferencing, email, and automated collaboration platforms, to perform their duties and communicate with clients and stakeholders.
What Are the Advantages of Engaging Virtual Compliance Officer?
A virtual compliance officer performs many of the same duties as a conventional CO, but has some added benefits. For example, they provide access to resources like security and privacy experts without needing to employ all of these experts internally. It is especially helpful for companies with tight financial restrictions that might not be able to pay the hefty wages and administrative expenses linked to a full-time compliance officer.
Additionally, the vCO model gives businesses access to seasoned individuals and specialized IT security specialists who can provide guidance and help as needed. Outsourcing can actually reduce compliance risks by providing access to experienced professionals who are better able to identify and mitigate potential threats.
An outsourced Compliance Officer can bring a more efficient and streamlined approach to compliance, which can help organizations save time and reduce errors. Additionally, client businesses benefit greatly from the latest, cutting-edge security technology. This helps them to swiftly adapt to shifting compliance requirements.
An outsourced Compliance Officer typically has a wide range of experience and skills, which can benefit an organization by providing a broader perspective on compliance issues. This means they are also a helpful figure when examining the compliance policies and procedures and experienced enough to take the initiative to execute any necessary changes or improvements. They have the ability to think creatively and generate fresh concepts on how to effectively defend your company from security risks.
The virtual CO concept, in general, gives businesses flexibility and access to the most recent compliance tools and techniques without the same financial commitment. A vCO can be engaged on an as-needed basis, allowing organizations to scale their compliance support as their needs change. This helps the client company to reduce costs and optimize some of the burden involved with managing their compliance efforts while keeping engagements on track by utilizing the services of an expert virtual compliance officer. And, of course, by outsourcing compliance responsibilities, organizations can free up internal resources to focus on their core business operations.
Plus, the services provided by a vCO are highly customized to meet the specific needs of the organization they serve.
When Is It Helpful to Outsource the Role of Compliance Officer?
Part of the beauty of outsourcing is that it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision; a virtual compliance officer can step in at any time and provide the flexibility that your organization needs as things change. That being said, vCOs may be the perfect solution when:
- Your organization is approaching or in a period of transition and expects to need more personnel.
- The perspective of a third-party expert is particularly valuable, like for start-ups and organizations looking to improve their compliance program.
- Your organization is ready for more formal reporting and detailed recommendations for remediation.
- Your organization is ready for the next level of compliance maturity but some aspects are outside of your current team’s expertise.
- You need to set up customized CMS programs.
Related article: How Fractional Compliance Specialists Relieve Recession Pressure.
What Roles & Responsibilities does a Virtual Compliance Officer Cover?
But let’s get more into detail; what roles and responsibilities can a virtual compliance officer help you with? Because this is the big question when outsourcing. In order to estimate the ROI of outsourcing a compliance role, your organization needs to determine if the tasks on hand can even be covered by a virtual compliance officer. And you’re going to want to know how many responsibilities this external figure will be able to take on in order to make hiring and staffing decisions going forward.
Just like a traditional compliance officer, a vCO is responsible for ensuring that an organization complies with legal and regulatory requirements, as well as internal policies and procedures. Their specific roles and responsibilities may vary depending on the size and type of organization, but they typically include:
- Developing and implementing compliance policies and procedures.
- Monitoring and assessing compliance with laws, regulations, and policies.
- Conducting investigations and audits to identify compliance risks and potential breaches.
- Providing training and education to employees on compliance topics.
- Responding to and resolving compliance-related complaints and incidents.
- Maintaining records of compliance activities and decisions.
- Keeping an eye on trends and changes to relevant laws and regulations.
- Collaborating with other departments, such as Legal and Human Resources, to ensure compliance.
- Reporting on compliance activities and performance to senior management and the Board of Directors.
- Representing the organization in regulatory and legal proceedings related to compliance.
The overall goal of a compliance officer – whether outsourced, or on-site – is always to protect the organization from legal and financial consequences by promoting ethical behavior, reducing risk, and ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements.
The Virtual Information Security Officer first joins your company to offer information and insights that aid in securing it. Your VISO will offer broad advice services in that regard. Why does that matter? When you need them, your VISO will be prepared to study your problems or inquiries and then provide you clear, practical solutions by phone or email. Additionally, your VISO will make sure to keep you informed of any risks that could emerge as well as the most recent cybersecurity news.
Your dedication to safeguarding your company depends on the support and understanding of key stakeholders within your organization. In order to keep your Board “in the loop” and informed of testing, findings, and any issues, your VISO will plan frequent feedback and Q&A sessions for them.
Your company’s IT division keeps everything working smoothly. It’s crucial to keep this division fully secure and up to date with security developments. Your VISO will assist your technology department stay in top form by identifying, developing, and suggesting process and strategic changes.
Policy & Risk Management
Cybersecurity is like the waves; it goes in and out. The tide fluctuates between moving in one direction and another. Any vulnerabilities are identified and avoided so that you may keep concentrating on your business through the development and implementation of a continuous improvement program and the frequent performance of risk assessments. Your VISO will create your technology policy and oversee your risk assessments as a crucial component of your team to keep everything running smoothly.
In summary, outsourcing a Compliance Officer, including a vCO, can provide organizations with a cost-effective and flexible way to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, reduce risk, and improve operational efficiency.
Training and Education
The security of your business is a team effort, with your VISO establishing, managing, and putting into action your information security plan. Your VISO will conduct training with your entire organization and at the department level to keep your staff informed and empowered.
Training will be tailored to the duties and demands of those personnel, to IT best practices, and to the outcomes of any testing. Your VISO will also remind your team and give frequent material after they’re on the calendar to make sure information security is top-of-mind.
Related article: You Don’t Really Need to Hire a Full-Time Compliance Officer.