AMGA Professional Compliance Program

2021 Compliance Procedures Update

The AMGA professional compliance program consists of the AMGA Code of Ethics and Conduct, which establishes standards of conduct for AMGA members, and the Speak Up reporting platform which provides a confidential channel for AMGA members to report potential violations of the Code of Ethics and Conduct. This program was launched in 2019 to better meet AMGA members’ needs when reporting ethical concerns and to build a more inclusive community. The AMGA Board of Directors has identified the update and improvement of the professional compliance program as a 2021 priority. Additional staff resources have been devoted to this work and steps are now being taken to update the professional compliance program to improve AMGA members’ understanding of professional expectations and increase transparency in the compliance process. 

Why is the AMGA doing this?

Since the Speak Up platform was introduced in 2019, much has been learned about professional compliance within the AMGA. We have learned that the professional expectations of AMGA members have not always been clear. We have learned that the process for reviewing ethics complaints should be standardized and consistent. And perhaps most of all, we have learned that the procedures used to investigate and adjudicate complaints should be transparent and readily available to AMGA members. 

To help improve understanding and increase transparency, the AMGA is developing a professional compliance manual that will establish clear behavioral expectations for AMGA members and a standardized process by which complaints of misconduct are supported, investigated, and adjudicated. This will promote objectivity, transparency, and consistency in the investigation and adjudication process in order to ensure it is fair to those involved in a complaint, and credible to the AMGA membership. 

What is the AMGA doing?

In the fall of 2020, the AMGA Board of Directors created a “compliance task force” (Task Force) of five Board members to advise AMGA staff in the process of reviewing and updating the professional compliance policies and procedures. The list below outlines the work that has been completed by AMGA staff and the Task Force thus far and what steps remain in the project timeline. 

 

  • AMGA staff researched professional organizations with professional compliance programs to learn best practices. Interviews were conducted in January 2021 with compliance professionals from The Mountaineers and Certified Financial Planners Board to gain insights into the characteristics of highly functioning compliance programs.
  • AMGA staff presented a summary of the research findings and a work plan to the AMGA Board of Directors at the February 3, 2021 meeting.
  • AMGA staff and the Task Force reviewed existing AMGA policies to determine if changes to existing policy would be necessary to allow the compliance program to operate effectively.
  • AMGA staff worked with Investigations Law Group (ILG), a third-party workplace human resources consulting and investigations firm, to create a draft Anti-Harassment and Prohibited Behavior Policy (AHPB policy) to more clearly state the behavioral expectations of AMGA members. 
  • AMGA staff drafted targeted revisions to the AMGA Code of Ethics and Conduct to reflect the creation of the AHPB policy and to make the Code of Ethics and Conduct more clear and easier to understand. 
  • Proposed changes to the AMGA Code of Ethics and Conduct were sent to the Governance Committee in March 2021 for review and comment. 
  • A draft “Professional Compliance Manual” was created to outline the steps that are taken when an alleged violation of the AMGA Code of Ethics and Conduct is reported to the AMGA. The manual describes the process by which the AMGA receives a complaint, conducts an investigation, reviews the findings, and reaches a decision. Depending on the type and severity of the complaint, the process may utilize a restorative approach, or, when necessary, a disciplinary approach. 
  • The draft Professional Compliance Manual, including the draft AHPB policy and proposed changes to the Code of Ethics and Conduct, were sent to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in April 2021 for review and comment. 

 

Next steps

  • The draft  Professional Compliance Manual, including the draft AHPB policy and proposed changes to the Code of Ethics and Conduct, will be reviewed by the Compliance Task Force, Investigations Law Group, and AMGA legal counsel, and then submitted to the AMGA Board of Directors for review and consideration at the May 22, 2021 meeting. The AMGA Board of Directors will be asked to approve the draft Professional Compliance Manual to be shared with the AMGA membership for feedback and input.
  • Comments from the membership will be solicited during a 60-day comment period during the summer of 2021.
  • Comments will be used to inform a final version of the Professional Compliance Manual that will be submitted to the AMGA Board of Directors for approval and adoption at the October 2021 meeting.
  • The updated Professional Compliance Manual along with educational materials will be released for AMGA members in late 2021. 

How can you get involved?

During the summer of 2021 the AMGA will be soliciting comments from the membership on the proposed updates to the professional compliance program. AMGA members will have the opportunity to provide specific feedback on the proposed updates, or generalized feedback on the compliance program as a whole. The AMGA will welcome any and all feedback from members. During the member comment period the AMGA will also hold virtual listening sessions for members to submit feedback, comments, and questions in a more interactive setting. Stay tuned for more information on both of these ways to be involved. 

As a result of this initiative, the AMGA professional compliance program will be better positioned to promote respect and inclusivity among AMGA members, ensure exceptional service to the public, and advance the professionalism of the industry.

Any questions? Contact [email protected] or [email protected] 

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