PERSON OF THE WEEK: When the COVID-19 crisis first hit the mortgage industry, compliance departments needed to act fast to ensure lenders could still execute on all their compliance controls in a fully remote world.
Now, two years in, compliance in a virtual world has become the norm – and will continue to be in the foreseeable future, as many companies are sticking with either a fully remote workforce or hybrid approach.
To learn more about how companies are staying fully compliant in a virtual environment, including handling training and check-ins, MortgageOrb recently interviewed Anna Tilton Daniel, chief compliance and privacy officer at Enact Mortgage Insurance.
Q: From a compliance standpoint, how has training changed by going remote?
Tilton Daniel: In the past, a lot of training was prerecorded, but the compliance team at Enact wanted people to feel connected with others while working remotely through the pandemic, so we’ve switched to offering more interactive, live webinar-style training. It’s a more collaborative experience since you can see your colleagues asking questions and participating. We try to make it fun by implementing drawings, giveaways, games, and more.
We are conscious of the length of training so that it fits into every employee’s day in shorter bite-sized sessions whenever possible. Smaller trainings make it more doable and allow employees to stay up to date, so it’s less overwhelming at a time when life and work are already hectic enough.
We incorporated other tools like live Kahoot quizzes at the end of the training as a way to refresh what was just learned. These quizzes also allow our compliance team to see real-time what participants are understanding and what they aren’t, which enables us to reinforce key messages before the training session ends and adjust for next time.
Q: Both pre- and post-pandemic, how have interactions with employees changed to ensure they’re remaining vigilant with compliance?
Tilton Daniel: Pre-pandemic, you could walk around the office and check in with people face-to-face. Now we do it remotely, especially with people we don’t see often, by way of phone, chat, or text. This allows us to keep employees engaged with compliance priorities and get a read on how they feel about compliance, along with culture and training.
We also rely on our Compliance Leads Program, which is a dedicated group of compliance partners embedded throughout the business.This program provides a window into even more employee experiences and compliance feedback. The compliance leads also help advocate for compliance initiatives in their departments to make sure everyone across Enact is aligned.
Q: How does testing work in a remote environment?
Tilton Daniel: In some ways, remote work has allowed us to really stress test some of our processes. Like many companies, we conduct cyber tabletop exercises, which help us test our cybersecurity incident response. For the past two years, we have conducted these exercises in a completely virtual format.
Fully virtual incident response training allows you to really test what it would be like if no one was in the room together, networks were down, and you had to rely on alternate means of communication, which is much more realistic than having everyone in the same conference room together.
Q: Audits and compliance reviews can be nerve-wracking. What do these look like in a virtual workplace?
Tilton Daniel: Pre-pandemic, regulators and third parties conducted on-site audits, but now it’s all virtual. We always try to put our best foot forward by sending thoughtfully organized and indexed documents upfront with an overall summary or letter to help ground the auditors in advance. We also work with our employees to ensure they are prepared and comfortable with the various web hosting platforms used by outside regulators and auditors.
Virtual audits need to be structured with a thorough agenda that lists all your speakers and their titles and content areas. Content presenters can then share overview presentations that link back to the documents provided initially to make it easy for the auditors to follow along online.
We also look for opportunities for remote team members to shine where they may not have had as much of an opportunity pre-pandemic if they couldn’t be in-person for the audit.
Managing compliance in a virtual environment is a current and future task. The key is to stay vigilant, keep in touch, and listen to feedback from employees throughout your company, especially those with whom you may not interact every day. Be flexible, make your compliance training as engaging as it can be, and ensure that everyone has a solid understanding of what it means to be compliant in a virtual or hybrid workplace.
To make sure everyone is equipped, we are continuously adjusting our outreach and training methods to be more impactful and memorable, and working as a team so that everyone is prepared and ready when it comes time for an audit.