Floris Demenint, Compliance Officer at Van Lanschot Kempen. He previously worked for employers such as Kempen & Co, and at UBS.
You are a Compliance Officer. What does this involve, exactly?
The essence of compliance is ensuring we have set up our procedures and processes in accordance with legislation. To do so, we explain the requirements and consequences of legislation in practice. An important test is whether a client can make effective use of the information we offer, and whether it's clear how the costs we charge for our services are structured.
Alongside my regular job, I'm also secretary of the Insider Trading Committee. Van Lanschot Kempen is publicly listed, and this means we must publish any information that may affect our share price as quickly as possible. This may be a financial setback, an acquisition, or the appointment or retiring of a supervisory director. It is secure work, because the regulator can always ask for information.
What does your working week look like?
These days, we use the scrum method. As such, we always begin at 9:15 with the daily scrum meeting. We subsequently work in “sprints” lasting three weeks, in which time we complete a particular project. For me, scrum is a time management tool, which allows me to effectively plan what I have agreed to do. For example, this works well for the regular auditing of particular processes, or for scheduling training courses. However, the reactive part of our work, in which we investigate why something has gone wrong, is harder to plan. This means we don't follow the scrum method 100%.
What is the added value of your work for the client?
The difficult thing about compliance is that you must warn of risks that may arise, but which will not necessarily happen in practice. Have we correctly assessed a risk in principle, and is fate on our side? Then it might seem as if we have taken unnecessary precautions. But what happens if we underestimate a risk, and things go wrong? Then we're in big trouble.
A recent example is the money laundering scandal at ING: there, things went badly wrong. At such moments, the Executive Board asks us if this could also happen here. We then analyse this, and additional measures are sometimes put in place. But who knows, next year something else entirely may go wrong. This is why we always consider what you don’t see, what you miss. This requires conversations with the business. This is quite complex, and often feels like wasted time to them. In the end, a joint effort is required to avoid the fines that ING incurred.
What is the best part of your job?
If something has gone wrong, we start an investigation. What has happened, who did what and why? In practice, things will have gone wrong in various places in such situations because numerous preventive measures have failed. Problems like this are a puzzle, and I like that, as well as good discussions about the application of rules. It keeps you alert.
Which skills are important in your job?
You must be good at reasoning and arguing your case, because it isn't easy to convince someone of a risk. Having a good sense of how the other side feels, understanding what is going on. It's important to be able to weigh up interests and to stand your ground at the right moment. After all, you can't escalate everything to the Supervisory Board.
Joris Luyendijk wrote that people from compliance are often seen as “boring”. What do you think about that?
Firstly: I think that people should read more. It helps you to take a distance and to reflect on your work and your life. I read a lot myself. But I don't agree with this statement in Luyendijk's book. If people think compliance is boring, then they don't understand what compliance is. After all, we audit their work. If that's boring, then they are also boring. Compliance is nothing more or less than complying with legislation. We want to offer advice about this, and that is good for everyone.
Floris lives with his wife and two daughters in Naarden. His alarm goes off at exactly 6:15 a.m. Depending on how quickly he can get his daughters to school, he starts work in Amsterdam between 7:30-8.00 a.m. He takes the train four days a week. On the fifth day, he takes the car, because it is easier for his boxing lessons. In his free time, Floris enjoys reading – from thrillers to books about financial scandals. And comics: he has at least 500 at home.