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This month’s technical corner article comes from Amy Bell, Director at Teal Compliance
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Here Comes the Sun!
Goodness me, it seems like winter lasted for ages, what with lockdowns, stamp duty deadlines and kids self-isolating.
But we made it! Summer!
Time for sitting in the garden with a cold drink and a good book, time for exploring a new part of the UK on a staycation or spending well-earned Euros in a resort delighted to have visitors back.
Whatever your plans this Summer, don’t forget to make sure you have holiday cover for Compliance. Compliance is an all-year round activity and arguably is even more important in the Summer months when people are thin on the ground, so we really do need to make sure people are following procedures properly, so things are not missed.
Here are 5 key things you need to make sure are covered:
- MLRO – firms need to have an MLRO in case the need to report arises. Many firms these days have a Deputy who can cover. But, if not and your MLRO is going to be off, you need someone who can access the SARs portal and has a good understanding of the law in this area, so get this sorted as soon as possible. Get the access info for the portal and, if necessary, some training. The Law Society can help if you’re stuck working out whether to report so get the number to their Practice Advice Service to hand.
- COLP – I see fewer firms with Deputy COLPs but again you may need to report something to the SRA urgently. Remember, since November 2019 the reporting obligations are that matters which are capable of amounting to a serious breach of the SRA standard and regulations need to be reported as soon as possible and sometimes things cannot wait. Again, training here will be key, as well as letting the staff know who to report to in the event of the COLPs absence.
- Data Breaches – Not all firms have a formal Data Protection Officer. But you will have someone, I’m sure, who will be notified in the event of a breach. Like Money Laundering and Regulatory issues, these are also usually urgent, in fact, often the most urgent issues you need to deal with. Contact your insurers to see whether you have any cover in the event of issues. Do you have access to a team to jump into action if there are any breaches or cyber-attacks?
- Remind all staff about baddies! Criminals will often pick opportune times to target firms and Summer is a good one. Whether it is for a cyber-attack, identity fraud, risky (for AML) transactions, they will seek to take advantage of confusion because of the disruption of holiday cover, so a memo or short training session on these risks for staff would be a good idea.
- Sufficient cover for client needs to be met. I think this year, more than ever, we could have issues with balancing holidays. Loads of people are exhausted and many have taken very little annual leave since the start of the pandemic. Keep an eye of capacity numbers, do you have enough people to progress the files you have open? If not, consider potentially getting some locum cover. There are a few organisations out there now who can offer temporary legal role cover.
Above all, I hope everyone gets a really great rest, because from what I’m hearing the end of the year is going to be one of the busiest we have seen!
Amy Bell is Director at Teal Compliance.