As businesses become larger and more integrated the need for corporate compliance officers becomes more of a necessity than a luxury. This is even more obvious in highly regulated industries such as insurance and financing. The reasons to have a corporate compliance officer are also fairly obvious especially if you engage in conduct or behavior that could conceivably put you on the wrong side of the law. If that were to happen, the penalties that could be imposed might very well destroy your company. Many of the decisions that might incur this kind of reaction could be chalked up to common sense decision making, but many times you just can’t be too careful especially in today’s environment.
What qualifications should you look for if you decide to hire a corporate compliance officer for your company? Well, let’s look at a well-respected compliance officer to see. You couldn’t get anyone any more qualified for this position than Helane Morrison. Growing up in Brooklyn New York, Morrison studied journalism at Northwestern University until she moved to California to attend the Berkeley School of Law. After graduating, she also had experience as an assistant for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmum. Justice Blackmum had a great influence on Ms. Morrison as a lawyer because he was a champion of overturning harmful and discriminatory institutions. Because of his influence, Morrison began to develop her own passion for justice and equality that continues to follow her career as a compliance officer.
Her career in law took off when she chose to specialize in security law and defend those affected by alleged violations. As a consequence of her work in this field, the Government also took notice of her and invited her to take a position in the San Francisco office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange. It was this position that allowed her to have a great influence on the corruption that permeated the trading and securities industries at the time. Because of her journalism skills and legal background, she was also invited to take the position of SEC office head of enforcement.
Another move in a stellar career was when she joined Hall Capital Partners in 2007. Hall Capital Partners is San Francisco’s largest investment advisory firm. In serving there, she also holds the positions of Managing Director, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and a member of Hall Capital Partner’s Executive Committee. In addition to these positions, she is an active member of the Hedge Fund Subcommittee of the American Bar Association and a contributor and speaker on the topics of compliance and legal issues of advisory services and private money funds (Bloomberg).