I had the good fortune to spend last week at the SCCE Basic Compliance and Ethics Academy in Singapore. For those who haven’t been there, Singapore is a remarkable place. It is clean, safe, and a melting pot of peoples and foods. Every time I have gone – this is my fourth trip – I marvel at how the city hums and how well it runs. It’s the kind of place where, quite literally, your bags are waiting for your on the luggage carousel by the time you clear the remarkably quick immigration process.
This visit, I marveled less at Singapore’s success and more at the success of the Academy and what its success represents. We consider Academies to be sold out when we have 75 attendees. This Academy actually exceeded that number. The room was packed.
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It was a substantial increase from our 2014 Asia Academy and fell just three months after our Brussels Academy, which came within a whisker of selling out as well.
SCCE and compliance have come a long way since our first non-US Academy back in 2008 when we drew all of 17 people.
The numbers were impressive and spoke volumes about the growth of the compliance profession. But they didn’t tell the whole, rich story. Looking at who came revealed a picture of surprising diversity and growth.
Some of the attendees reflected what was expected. Many came from the Asian offices of large U.S. companies with well-established compliance programs. There were also several from European multinationals with a fairly long history of compliance as well.
Not surprisingly, Singapore was the largest source of attendees. That’s partially due to the fact that the program was local for Singaporeans. And, it likely also reflected the country’s well-known and strong regulatory environment.
But they were far from the only attendees. Fifteen countries were represented, including Oman, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Also of note, the attendees came from a wide range of companies within the region, and from industries ranging from supermarkets to banks to oil & gas.
In sum, the attendees demonstrated that compliance is no longer just a US thing or a global company thing. It is spreading throughout the business world. The language we speak — tone at the top, culture, helplines and training — is now an increasingly common tongue. The challenges faced, and the challenges met, are just as universal.
To be sure, it is still an uphill climb for many of the conference attendees. Compliance is much newer in their organizations. But it is no longer an alien concept. It is becoming integral to the way their organizations work.
And so as I left the Academy I did so with the happy realization that we are, most definitely, not alone.