How we are building a culture of compliance that empowers businesses to grow without borders
By Jeanette Chan, Chief Legal, Compliance and Risk Officer, Chong Yi, Director of Compliance, NA and EMEA and Jennifer Thomas, Senior Licensing and Regulatory Manager at Airwallex
In part one of our compliance blog series, we explored how compliance protects our customers and their transactions through a global network of dedicated legal and compliance experts.
However, our commitment to security and compliance doesn’t stop at our customers.
Our global legal and compliance team is dedicated to not only upholding regulations across all the regions we operate in, but also building compliance into every facet of our business. From product and engineering, to business development and marketing, we put compliance at the heart and centre of everything we do.
Compliance in an evolving environment
There is often a misperception that the compliance function is counterproductive and the compliance team acts as a barrier to innovation. Within an organisation, the compliance department is often misunderstood and is seen to be unimaginative, and whose first reaction to ideas and requests is a resounding no, impeding the organisation from achieving its commercial business objectives. Initially, most organisations see their compliance efforts as a matter of ‘checking the boxes’ to avoid the risk of penalties and reputational damage.
However, the evolution of compliance can be seen today as a competitive advantage and an indispensable component not only to meet regulatory requirements but also for innovation, for business growth, and for adding value holistically to the changing environment.
At Airwallex, the compliance team understands the importance of its role as a business partner to both internal teams and external stakeholders. Therefore, our approach to compliance is unique and deeply rooted in our culture. Having the program built-in means we can create seamless workflows for employees, whilst still upholding customer and investor confidence through our robust security and compliance measures.
Building a compliance culture from the ground up
We take a data and knowledge-first approach. We use data analysis and reporting to improve the quality of business decisions and our wider compliance strategy. Before launching any new compliance procedure, we perform tests using data to critically assess output accuracy, consistency of deliverables and potential impact on service level agreements (already in place). Internal testing is rigorous, continuous, and transparent. New compliance processes will only be implemented after taking into consideration their impact on efficiency, the quality of compliance and the effect on ultimate customer experience. Balancing all those factors is an important component of any new process being considered.
We strike a balance between agility and compliance. The greatest challenge for compliance is to keep up with change. Working across multiple markets and jurisdictions means our compliance program is designed to adjust to the changing regulatory environment, while ensuring we remain consistent and compliant across regions. Having local teams allows us to better navigate each market and jurisdiction we operate in, while also recognising cultural, geographical and language barriers. Safe to say, we are constantly enacting, enforcing and evolving the way we work to ensure we are proactively addressing the business’ compliance needs.
We take an active approach to building awareness and education. Understanding the role of compliance and how it enables operations globally is essential. Successful company-wide understanding hinges on the strength of employee training initiatives at all levels. This starts at the very beginning with our onboarding process, where every employee undertakes comprehensive training on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing to understand the role compliance plays in keeping Airwallex operational and secure.
We also use internal messaging and support channels to foster an ongoing dialogue on compliance. All employees are encouraged to freely contact our compliance team - anonymously or otherwise - with any questions or concerns they may have. In addition, the training ensures our compliance officers understand our customers and the unique challenges they face.
We ensure meaningful engagements with regulators. New tech solutions and digital businesses have rapidly expanded the global economy. In this new environment, regulator’s scrutiny has become critical. This explains why Airwallex has built an open and continuous dialogue with regulators. We work in partnership with governing bodies to maintain our status as an industry leader - both in terms of creative solutions for, and protection of, our customers.
We ensure compliance remains a core value of the business. For compliance to take root in an organisation’s culture, it has to start from the top. At Airwallex, the leadership team is committed to constantly reinforce the value and the important role compliance plays to sustain our business long-term. This means we celebrate successes but also constantly strive for improvement to ensure we remain fully compliant across the business.
Compliance plays an integral role at Airwallex. It ensures we abide by internal rules of conduct and external rules and regulations, but also that we operate in an ethical and responsible way. By creating policies that are both comprehensive and flexible, our compliance strategy is always relevant to the evolving needs of our customers, regulators and broader stakeholders, and is aligned with the wider business vision to empower businesses to operate anywhere, anytime.
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