If the general view is true: that in the Netherlands compliance is ‘still in its infancy’, then it’s a child that has had to grow up very quickly. Because in the boardroom of the early ’90s, anyone mentioning the term ‘compliance’ would have been met with blank stares. So, what’s changed? And how can organisations comply with stricter rules without sacrificing agility? Before we can answer those questions, we need to go back in time.
In the financial sector, self-regulation was the motto until well into the 1980s. The establishment of the Securities Traffic Supervision Foundation (STE), the predecessor of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), was the first attempt in the Netherlands to regulate securities trading by the government. In 1992, the STE’s powers were laid down in the Securities Trading Supervision Act which, for example, prohibited company managers from buying securities in companies in which they themselves are active.
Driven by the increased complexity and globalisation, the main focus of the financial sector shifted from self-regulation to government supervision. Due to new legislation, compliance within organisations became more important. Although a specific compliance role was not required by law, the first Dutch compliance officers at financial institutions appeared around this time. In 2001, the Association of Compliance Officers was founded.