Making Compliance Cool


“Before you get to what you’re going to teach people, you’ve got to get their attention,” Vince Walden said, quoting Rashelle Tanner, the director of the Compliance Learning Program at Microsoft, to illustrate what he wanted to convey about compliance to virtual attendees of the ACFE Fraud Conference Europe on Monday. He added, “You have got to make compliance more engaging and figure out how to make training stick.”

Walden, the managing director of Forensic Technology Services at Alvarez & Marsal Disputes and Investigations LLC, encouraged listeners to use different techniques to make compliance training and adhering to best practices fun, engaging and even a little surprising.

He used one of his own suggestions, storytelling, to show how compliance can be top of mind and easily remembered. He used an example of an in-flight safety video to show how compliance professionals can take a piece of content that no one watches or takes seriously to something fun and even memorable. How many of us actually watch the safety video or announcement at the beginning of a flight? I imagine most of us barely even look up from our book, device or pillow. But, when you make it fun and surprising, you will get different results.

Walden shared how Virgin Atlantic made their safety video into an animated, feature-like video that was more interactive and engaging. He also shared a link to United Airlines’ video that used a Star Wars theme, “Fly the Friendly Galaxy” to promote not only the safety video, but a new movie coming out. This is just one way to take information that could go on a shelf and make it into something more dynamic.

“If you give someone a written policy, guess what? They’re not going to follow it,” Walden said. “Just having a paper compliance and training program and putting it on a shelf; that’s the equivalent of not having one at all. You need to operationalize it.”

But, what does operationalizing it look like? According to Walden, you have to lead the charge of a culture change by doing three things:

  1. Send a powerful message to a captive audience (much like United’s Star Wars video).

  2. Change how your staff views compliance (not just a written, off-the-shelf policy).

  3. Move compliance from something that the staff feels like they have to do to something that they want to do.

Walden also discussed two other ways compliance professionals can reinvigorate their compliance programs: digital twins and artificial intelligence (AI). Both of these ideas were featured in two Fraud Magazine articles, “Profit & Loss-of-One” and “Demystifying AI in Anti-Fraud and Compliance Efforts.”

All of these techniques are ways to look at compliance with new eyes, and, yes, even make it a little cool. As Walden said in his own description of what he wanted people to get out of this session, “Let’s not just check the box; let’s affect behaviors.” How can you change your own compliance program to be more entertaining, engaging and even surprising? Let us know if the comments section below!