Do you have 30 minutes to assess the robustness of your firm’s risk and compliance structure?
Regardless of the size and structure of your firm, you must comply with the SRA standards and regulations. With the SRA having issued their Risk Outlook for 2021, finding 30 minutes to talk to us will undoubtedly add value and be time well spent.
In the recently issued Risk Outlook for 2020/21, the SRA sets out its view on the key risks and challenges currently facing the profession with a view to helping solicitors take steps to protect both their clients and their firms.
SRA Chief Executive Paul Philip said: “I know that the Outlook is a valuable resource – it is certainly one of the most visited pages of our website. Of course, this year we are publishing against the backdrop of Covid-19, which has brought so many challenges for the legal sector and the wider community. Importantly, the pandemic has exacerbated some of the wider, day-to-day risks that already existed. We saw this happen very quickly, for example, when the number of cybercrime reports recorded by the National Crime Agency rose 400 percent in the first weeks of lockdown as criminals tried to take advantage of those – including law firms – working from home.”
As well as looking at cybersecurity, this year’s Risk Outlook has information on Brexit and its implications, reminding solicitors of their obligations to keep client money safe and to prevent money laundering.
The regulators’ assessment of risks in the sector is also accompanied by suggestions about what firms need to do to meet their obligations, identify where their firm may be vulnerable, and what they could and should be doing to mitigate these risks.
As will be seen from the link below the focus for the SRA in the coming year is: –
- Anti Money Laundering – preventing criminals from using law firms to launder money. The SRA has for a long time been telling law firms to increase awareness and have robust systems in place.
- Client Money – protecting client money will always be a focus.
- Diversity – a continued drive to ensure that law firms are diverse with inclusive workplaces and cultures.
- Information and Cyber Security – ensuring firms have the appropriate systems and control to protect the firm and clients from online fraud.
- Integrity and Ethics – continuing to enforce the ethics and for firms and their staff to comply with the various rules and codes.
- Meeting legal needs – widening access to justice to drive legal needs to the people and businesses that need them.
- Standard of Service – ensuring all within a law firm operate with competence.
None of these issues should come as a surprise and they are a clear ‘heads up’ for firms to get organised and ensure they comply not just with the highlighted areas but regulation generally.
At The Strategic Partner, we have designed 2 compliance services (detailed below) that ensure a firm is operating within the regulation and continues to do so on an ongoing basis.
If it has been a while since you have assessed your risk and compliance infrastructure now is the time to act. A 30-minute call with our compliance team will help identify where you are now and where you need to get to.
To view the Risk Outlook, visit SRA | Risk Outlook 2020/2021 | Solicitors Regulation Authority
Robust Compliance Solutions That Are Cost Effective (starting from £210 a month for members) and Will Protect Your Firm
Whilst the regulator acknowledges the complications and challenges that COVID-19 has caused the legal sector, it has also made it very clear that the requirement to comply with the various rules, regulations and legislation along with risk controls has not changed. Whilst it is uncertain what new challenges face us in 2021, the regulator’s policies and procedures still exist, and whilst they may have to be adapted, the requirement to remain compliant has not been reduced.
Firms must ensure that employees are fully aware of their responsibility to continue to operate in accordance with the compliance requirement of the firm and not to ignore or work around such requirements. A robust compliance structure will be capable of being maintained throughout whatever crisis occurs and will test a firm’s approach and help identify any weaknesses so they can be rectified.
However, for many firms, designing and maintaining a robust compliance regime in-house, without sufficient understanding, resource or time can be extremely debilitating to partners and their business, as compliance with all the required regulations is not as simple as it may first seem. Often expert advice and guidance is essential to ensure your firm achieves a compliant status and maintains it.
At The Strategic Partner, we work with firms to ensure that all their risk and compliance policies, and procedures, including those for AML, cybersecurity, and fee transparency, are in line with expectation and more importantly we work with them on an ongoing basis to assess and adapt them to ensure they remain relevant.
The Strategic Partner’s packaged compliance solutions for firms enables our clients to achieve a compliant status, and we continue to work with them on an ongoing basis.
This enables the owners and staff to focus on services for their clients and running the firm knowing that their AML and other regulatory requirements are taken care of.
At £3000 per annum – £2500 for members – (which can be paid monthly or quarterly) the solutions are cost-effective, not least of all in comparison to any potential costs and fines a firm could receive if they are found in breach of any of the obligations and find themselves confronted with an SRA enquiry.
Our service includes as standard:
Compliance and Anti Money Laundering
- Drafting bespoke policies
- Training of all staff (annually)
- Annual audits
- Annual firmwide risk assessment
- Access to a helpline
- Implementation of notification forms giving access to compliance officers
- Implementation of checklists to control and manage risk and regulation
- Implementation and management of registers to record information and evidence compliance
- Reporting on all activity to evidence compliance
- Ongoing updates to policies and newsletters to educate and share intelligence
Ongoing Compliance Guidance and Administration
- We receive all notifications from your staff.
- We manage your compliance registers.
- We will ensure that the details are entered onto the registers and we will then update them on an ongoing basis moving live matters into closed by working with the compliance officers and fee earners to resolve issues raised.
- We will interact with fee earners monthly to ensure the notifications are sent and those people who are not engaging, we will speak to directly as needed.
- We will maintain an undertaking register for the firm.
- We will prepare a monthly report for the compliance officers which sets out the activity and gives a general overview of compliance matters and provides direction on issues with solutions and trend analysis.
- We will also ensure aspects such as account reconciliations are completed monthly and stored on the COFA file.
We deliver the resource and the expertise that a firm may not have the time to deliver.
Our two cornerstone services provide firms with a robust risk and compliance structure. You can view the full details by clicking on the links below and visiting our product brochures.
Our Compliance Administration Service
The combination of these services provides firms with a bespoke service that achieves a compliant firm and ensures you stay there.
Get in Touch
We would be very happy to discuss your current approach to regulation and compliance and how our services will assist you in ensuring your firm is protected.