The risk of compliance comes from the failure to comply with laws, regulations, rules, self-regulatory standards and codes of conduct. In recent years there has been no need for examples, the financial sector has suffered a massive loss of reputation. This article focuses on the evolving scenario of the compliance function within banks, investment and insurance companies operating in Italy and on the effects of applying the MiFID Directive. We developed four areas of research questions: (i) does the positioning of the compliance function in the organizational structure start “at the Top” as the Basle Committee suggests? (ii) are roles attributed to the compliance function, their knowledge and their instruments coherent with the associated responsibilities? (iii) do firms implement measurement and management methodologies to minimize their economic impact? (iv) is the interaction between the compliance function inside and outside the structure appropriate to the aim of the compliance? Focusing on the positioning of the compliance function, almost half of our sample is reporting to boards of directors. Regarding the responsibility and the roles assigned to the compliance function, from a strategic point of view, the function itself feels the need for the compliance culture to be stroner and that there should be, at a working level, qualifying management procedures for the activity itself. A significantly higher number of financial players have implemented qualitative/quantitative methods to measure the risk and have started to transfer the impact using insurance contracts. Regarding the interaction in/out of the structure, the vast majority of both domestic and the international intermediaries believe that the compliance function could carry out an active role for innovative processes in investment services, but only a minority of the sample shows a virtuous situation of a connection between the value system and the compliance principles and the internal incentive system. With regard to the role of the compliance function in the implementation process of the MiFID Directive, the results reflect the net interpretation of the role mainly as pushing (initiator) and consulting (advisor) of the compliance function and less relevant during the carrying out phase (actor). The innovative effort is very strong in the compliance function of the international players, while the domestic players prefer the internal consulting approach.. This is probably because there is a learning curve of the intrinsic potentials of the role of the compliance function that still has to be carried out by some domestic intermediaries.
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