The Art Of Compliance By Helane Morrison

The old saying “ask forgiveness, not permission” is an expensive proposition when it comes to running a business, and abiding by laws. Infractions cost millions, and through the 1990s and 2000s, many companies were caught, fined, and some were even completely dismantled. There is also a saying, largely used in the financial industry, called “willful blindness.” The gist of the saying is that you can’t just claim that you had no clue as to what you were supposed to be doing, or that you were unaware you were doing something wrong. It does not work like that, and for that reason, many companies have gone the route of hiring a compliance officer to oversee matters.

Housing and the financial industries had to be revamped after our entire economy nearly collapsed through the 2009 reverse-and-unwind of the messy mortgage crisis. As those industries regrouped, many unrelated companies started to follow suit, and compliance officers who had been a bit lax previously, started working much more diligently. This all came to pass because some people at the top of companies started getting jail sentences for corrupt operations.

One of the major compliance officers in our country is Helane Morrison. She has been around for many years, providing safeguards for businesses, and making sure the public is protected by ensuring that brokers, financial professionals, and even real estate agents are doing their jobs properly. Having attended Northwestern University, and graduating with a Journalism degree, and then going to the University of California Berkeley School of Law, the knowledge she amassed was crucial to her professional success.

Keeping companies on the straight-and-narrow is no easy task, yet Helane Morrison seems to do this with ease. Having maintained ethical integrity throughout her life, she remains very influential and powerful in compliance circles. Currently she works for Hall Capital Partners where she is a Managing Director, Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel. In addition to holding those titles, she is also on the firm’s executive committee. Prior to joining Hall, Ms. Morrison worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1999 to 2007.

That near-decade was one of the most tumultuous our markets had ever seen. There was a run-up, and subsequent reversal, to Y2K, and then we had 9/11, where the markets were shaken to their core. Just as we started to move beyond 9/11, the recession of 2003-2004 took hold. For these reasons, she is a seasoned professional, who brings a lot to the table, and is able to keep companies heading in the right direction, and effectively sidestepping trouble.

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