Mario de Castro
HMS LUX S.A.
The life of a Compliance Officer
What is your career path?
I started working as a lawyer, in Portugal, 13 years ago. After around 2 years of practice, I went to Germany to get my Master’s degree (LL.M.) and at the end of the studies I received a job offer from a bank operating from Luxembourg. So, 10 years ago I debuted in the financial sector and after 4 years in operational responsibilities I directed my career towards the Compliance area where my legal background could benefit me more. Ever since, I acted as Compliance Officer for, initially, a support PSF, then for a Management Company and, now, for an Investment firm.
What do you enjoy most in your role?
First, the constant alternation of challenges. There are never two days alike. I also particularly enjoy developing, often from scratch, the set of tools that will support the business. In that sense, the current “ever-changing” regulatory landscape is very stimulating. In the last 3 or 4 years we have witnessed a succession of “heavy weight” regulations that have been taking (and will still take) its toll on us, COs, but it has also brought several new challenges.
What skills does someone working in the area need?
An inquisitive mind and attention to detail. The persons interested in steering a Compliance function must be on top of the changes to be able to keep up. If possible, even to anticipate issues. For that, I believe the best thing is to be curious, mainly about the new regulations but also about what other players are doing or thinking of doing. If you are curious you don’t see the “new” as an additional burden but rather as an opportunity to do something different. The attention to detail is essential to not lose track of all the aspects that keep being requested, demanded or expected. A detailed plan should be the first output of that curiosity.
“ I particularly enjoy developing, often from scratch, the set of tools that will support the business. ”
How do you see the Compliance Officer of the future?
As the legislator(s) and supervising authorities become more intervening, I believe the COs will be required to assume more roles (!), having to participate in all (or nearly) of the decision processes in each Company, including those only used to consult the COs, like product development or business strategy’ decisions. In turn, this will require more time and attention from an already busy agenda so, hopefully, he/she will also have more (and cheaper) automation tools than the currently available ones.
What do you want to share with other Compliance officers?
A thought of solidarity. The COs are often placed in the back-back-office, with few or no contact with the outside of the company. And also inside to each company, the function is often “segregated” because of its nature. Nonetheless, networking is a social need that gets more acute when one is functionally detached from the group. I believe that networking among peers addresses that need and further helps to learn new methods and approaches. On this point, ALCO is to be commended for its work.