Compliance. It’s a necessity in the alternative investments industry. And marketers are often frustrated by it, but there are ways to smooth the relationship between marketing and compliance. In this article, we’ll discuss how to up your curiosity to establish a stronger relationship with the compliance team and to make getting marketing materials approved easier.
Curiosity is Innate
Curiosity is innate to us. Just like when we’re kids and we ask “why” a million times. We want to understand the reasoning behind things and what they mean to our experiences. But as we grow older, we learn to follow social norms, company rules or school rules – often without question, or without feeling like we can ask “why.” The same thing holds true when it comes to compliance. Marketers are often fearful of compliance, and rightly, don’t want to put their firm at risk. We don’t either, and if you work to develop a relationship with compliance, you can often have an open dialogue that helps you advance your marketing programs and solve problems you’re running into with our industry rules standards.
How to Use Curiosity to Your Advantage
Let’s talk about why curiosity helps build relationships with compliance. Instead of fearing them and thinking of them as Dr. No, you have the opportunity to collaborate with them.
First, get rid of the stereotypes you might have about compliance. You know the ones…the person sitting in their office at their desk, their glasses on and the door shut. They have no interest in fun and they always try to make marketing harder. Forget all that.
Instead, think of how both marketing and compliance are there to benefit the company…and how when you work together, both teams can be even better at it.
Whether you’re new to your marketing role at your firm or you’ve been in it for decades, start building your relationship by setting up a meeting with compliance to understand the rules marketing should be following. This alone will go miles with compliance. They will appreciate that you’re seeking knowledge and want to help protect the company…which makes their job easier.
Ask about any new rules coming out (which are frequent), how your compliance team interprets them and what they mean for marketing. The open dialogue will help you understand how conservative your compliance team is in rule interpretation as there are many shades of gray in how rules are applied across the industry. It will also give you a sense of their personality and your best way to establish a relationship with them so you’re able to sit down and hash out how to address compliance comments on marketing material or figure out how to adhere to a rule.
Here are some key questions to ask your compliance team to increase your understanding of the rules and their perception of them, as well as their comments on marketing materials.
- What does this rule mean?
- Why do we interpret it this way?
- What can we do to adhere to the rule and market effectively?
- What is our risk around this rule?
- Can we add language to help address the rule? Or remove language?
- Instead of taking wording out of marketing, can we reword it/soften it?
- If we can’t use this, what would you feel comfortable using instead? (don’t underestimate the creativity of your compliance colleagues!)
- What are our options? (great one to foster collaboration)
As opposed to accepting, “No, you just can’t do that,” and turning around and going back to your desk. Get curious. A flat “no” might not be the answer. Ask your “whys” to find out for sure, and look for points of collaboration.