Posts in Category: Women in Business

Helane Morrison And The Rising Need For Competent Compliance Officers

Compliance officer Helane Morrison is part of a rising wave of people being charged with preventing companies from becoming ensnared in compliance issues. Not long ago, compliance officers were a rarity in all but a few industries. Today there are tens of thousands of companies in the United States and worldwide that are beating the bushes looking for competent, experienced compliance officers to help keep their employees out of trouble.

Part of the reason for the rise in the need for compliance officers is the globalization of business. As businesses ply their trade in several countries simultaneously, there is a dire need to make sure patterns of behavior that are acceptable in one country do not violate the laws in another. Further, the local, state, and federal laws governing a growing number of industries continue to multiply and become more complex each year. That leaves many companies playing catch up and forced to tip-toe their way through a maze of new laws and regulations. An effective compliance officer can put policies and procedures in place, ensure they are being followed companywide, and keep businesses from having to pay large fines or have their executives or employees threatened with jail time.

In 2007, Hall Capital Partners LLC hired the ideal chief compliance officer. Her name is Helane Morrison. What made Morrison an inspired hiring is that before being considered for the position, she had spent over 20 years working in law and the education and enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Morrison has a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She also worked as a clerk first for appellate court judge Richard A. Posner and later for Supreme Court judge Harry Blackmun. She then worked with California based law firm Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin where she was named a partner.

After a decade working at the law firm, Morrison left to become head of regional enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s San Francisco District Office. Her job included educating businesses about and investigating fraud in Idaho, Montana, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. During her 11 years with the SEC Morrison brought several fraud, insider trading, and other types of cases involving a wide range of businesses. This made her the perfect person to help Hall Capital Partners to ensure they are in compliance with the stringent financial industry laws.

Compliance Officers A Necessity in Business

Corporate fraud and scandal is running rampant, and although ethics and compliance officers are present, they are not being given the freedom to exercise their power, according to a Human Resource Executive Online article. The position of a compliance officer is very important to prevent scandal and ensure businesses are ethical. One simple scandal can give a brand a bad reputation beyond repair. However, compliance officers are not able to do what the position is intended to do because of many factors. Lack of real world training is part of the problem as well as being placed in the wrong department of the company. 

Another real problem preventing compliance officers from performing their intended job is the salary. With a salary extremely lower than high powered executives, compliance officers are not taken as seriously. Each business is different and it is hard to find a an ethics and compliance officer who fits in with the company and has the expertise plus the leadership and personality required in the role. 

It is important for compliance officers to have a thorough knowledge of the company and law. An example of a successful compliance officer is Helane Morrison. Currently the Managing Director, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Hall Capital Partners LLC, Morrison is involved in all facets of the business. Graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism, Morrison decided to go to University of California at Berkley, School of Law where she earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. She began her career in law with Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, where she specialized in business litigation and participated in corporate investigations. She also served as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun which you can learn more about on her LinkedIn profile. 

Her experience in law lead her to the SEC, San Francisco Office where she represented the office in all legal matters as well as working in securities enforcement, litigation and regulatory matters. She was a natural fit for Hall Capital as their compliance officer. She ensures ethical practices within the company and compliance with regulations. She also serves on the firm’s executive committee.