I think that in the wake of the financial crisis of the 2000s and the Great Recession, compliance is becoming a real concern that the upper levels of management take seriously, not just a box that needs to be checked to satisfy regulators. One indication of that is the advent of roles such as Chief Risk Officer or Chief Compliance Officers. For the most part, these C-level positions have only come into existence in the last 10 years. Before that, they existed mostly at insurance-related companies, and often did not have the influence they do today.
Today’s compliance executives often have experience on both sides of the regulatory stage. Many have been regulators themselves before working in the private sector. Helane Morrison is Chief Compliance Officer of Hall Capital Partners, a major financial advisory and investment firm in San Francisco. Before joining Hall Capital, Morrison was a regulator at the SEC, eventually becoming Regional Director for the Northwest Region. While at the SEC, she took on several fraud cases involving high-profile executives in Silicon Valley, such as Google and Hewlett Packard.
Morrison also lead the SEC’s investigation into the American Amicable Life case. This was an SEC action against an insurance company called American Amicable, which marketed a bundle of life insurance and investment products to military families and suggested the investments could make them millionaires. The company told these families that these products could make them a millionaire in twenty years, when in fact they were unlikely to make them any money at all. The insurance company was ordered to pay $70 million in refunds and damages.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Morrison attended the University of California-Berkeley Law School. After law school, she clerked for a US District Court of Appeals judge and for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. Helane Morrison joined a major San Francisco law firm and specialized in corporate litigation and securities law before joining the SEC.