Compliance chiefs bemoan ‘gung-ho’ finance marketers

finance v marketingFinancial services companies are being weighed down by a raging battle between marketers and their in-house legal and compliance departments over the processes they go through to get campaign materials approved, amid claims of an “us and them” culture.

That is according to a new study by software company Red Marker, based on the opinions of 521 senior legal, compliance and marketing professionals in financial services companies across the UK, US and Australia, all of which employed over 5,000 individuals.

The study included retail companies, investment banks and asset-management firms, uncovering a pervasive sense of adversarial dynamics, and 83% of respondents admitting their relationships with colleagues in other departments are fractured.

Notably, marketing professionals are as equally concerned about the legal/compliance approval process as their counterparts, with 42% agreeing that both the approval process and the need to target the right audience present significant challenges.

However, marketers are even more concerned that compliance hampers their ability to perform their duties effectively, with four-fifths (81%) viewing compliance is an obstacle. A similar proportion (79%) find the review process overly protracted and cumbersome, attributing this to an excess of procedural steps.

Legal professionals are equally disillusioned with their marketing colleagues. Eight in ten (82%) believe that marketers lack comprehension of the rationale behind complex compliance regulations, while a similar proportion (83%) feel that marketers are inclined to shift blame when their content faces external challenges.

In fact, 85% have heard their marketing colleagues complain that compliance rules are overly stringent, despite the fact that 83% of legal professionals believe that eliminating repetitive checks could expedite the review process.

Red Marker chief operating officer Mark Wood said: “The tension between marketing and legal/compliance in financial services illustrates that the delicate balance between creativity and compliance can easily become adversarial.

“Standing out in such a competitive industry relies on swift and effective marketing. Compliance teams and marketers need to find better ways of working together to ensure content is produced and approved efficiently – but also in a way that reduces risk.”

Wood reckons that new technology, such as artificial intelligence, could offer a solution. A substantial 95% of marketing, legal and compliance specialists agree that AI-based tools capable of intelligently scanning and flagging marketing content for compliance and brand risks could significantly enhance the review process.

Among the key benefits desired, 33% expressed the need for automated checks of standard content like disclaimers, sources, and terms and conditions. However, there remains a concern, acknowledged by 30% of respondents, regarding accountability in the event of AI failing to identify a risk.

Wood added: “One of the key barriers between these teams is the stereotypes: marketers seeing legal and compliance as deliberately hindering, versus legal/compliance teams seeing marketers as too ‘gung-ho’. Giving marketing teams the training and tools to consider compliance issues early and often could pave the way towards a more symbiotic partnership.

“However, cooperation is paramount and both sides agree that they need to work together more efficiently to improve the business and help it meet its overall goals. That means having constructive conversations – and it could also mean using AI-driven technology to enhance processes by focusing on automation and standardisation.”

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