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Compliance expert: One thing is crucial if the compliance units are to have organisational impact

In her twenty years with the bank, Monika Wieczorkowska has seen the compliance function at Danske Bank go from non-existent to having hundreds of employees. She tells us about the cultural change that has occurred and how to ensure that the compliance officers are listened to.

20. Feb 2023
3 min
English / Dansk

When Monika Wieczorkowska joined Danske Bank, there was no compliance unit. Now, twenty years later, the compliance function has grown into an essential function with hundreds of employees at this major bank.

In Danske Bank Group, Monika Wieczorkowska is head of internal audit for compliance and financial crime and large corporate and institutional customers. Her job is to ensure that the compliance unit operates properly and that the work procedures are appropriate.

On 9 March, she will share her experience when she speaks at Finansforbundet’s Compliance Conference. She sees one thing as crucial if the compliance unit is to have the needed impact on the organisation.

“The advisory role of the compliance function only works if the compliance unit is asked for its opinion and doesn’t have to initiate the approach every single time. This isn't something you can force. You can try to make it part of the standard procedures and implement it in various control mechanisms, but people will ultimately have to discover it as a function that adds value to the business,” says Monika Wieczorkowska.

“We have seen an enormous cultural change when it comes to compliance and the importance of supporting compliance.”
- Monika Wieczorkowska, Danske Bank Group’s Head of Internal Audit for Compliance and Financial Crime

A revolutionary change in the view on compliance

If compliance is looked upon as a function adding value to the business rather than an obstacle delaying processes, the rest of the organisation will be more likely to turn to the compliance function with questions. During Monika Wieczorkowska’s time at Danske Bank, people’s view on the compliance function has changed completely.

“The compliance unit has been given a larger role. It’s not like it has veto power, but the unit's concerns are listened to and are not ignored. “We have seen an enormous cultural change when it comes to compliance and the importance of supporting compliance.” Nowadays, everyone knows how important it is,” she says.

During her time at the bank, she has experienced several problematic cases sweep through the organisation and seen the negative press coverage and criticism that followed. In her opinion, this experience is part of the reason why the view on the compliance unit has changed as much as it has.

“Clearly the most interesting part of my job are tasks related to compliance with the financial crime rules and the risks related to financial crime. It is no secret that Danske Bank has struggled with challenges and is in the process of changing many things. That also leaves me with many things that I can check,” says Monika Wieczorkowska.

About: Monika Wieczorkowska

  • Head of Internal Audit for Compliance and Financial Crime at Danske Bank
  • Born in 1978
  • Studied at Warsaw School of Economics
  • Holds two master degrees in Finance and Banking & Management, respectively

“I don’t think there are any processes related to financial crime that have remained unchanged. Everything has changed. There are new requirements, new tasks, new systems, new solutions, new teams. If you were to compare the bank ten years ago with the bank today, it would seem like a completely new bank. But in a positive way,” she explains.

Internal auditing is important

Previously, we did not have the same focus on internal auditing of the compliance function, which is Monika Wieczorkowska’s area of responsibility. It has evolved naturally in step with the compliance units being given more areas of responsibility.

At Finansforbundet's Compliance Conference, she will therefore be speaking on how important it is to also subject the compliance unit’s processes to internal auditing. She will also be sharing her experience regarding how the internal auditors and compliance officers collaborate and ensure that no tasks are performed twice.

“Employees working with compliance should join my presentation if they want to learn from someone who has considerable experience with auditing their function. I will be talking about the general challenges of compliance units, and about the challenges that both our functions have when we are to ensure that we are doing the right thing, that we are not duplicating work, and that we add value to the organisation,” says Monika Wieczorkowska.


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