Compliance as Chess

Managing an effective, and useful, compliance program at an investment advisor firm is like a chess game.  There are a certain number of pieces.  Certain types of pieces can only move certain ways.  The rook, for example, can move vertically or horizontally but not diagonally.  The range of a rook’s vertical or horizontal movement is limited only by the distance between it and another piece (or the edge of the board.)

The knight, on the other hand, has a more limited range but can move in two directions in the same turn.  It can move one space forward and then either to its left or its right in a diagonal direction.

Similarly, each piece of your compliance program has its own function and is designed to play a different, but unique, role.  The knights on your chess board could be your written policies and procedures; although limited, they can change direction.

Perhaps your internal team, whether they be the Chief Compliance Officer, other compliance personnel, or everyone in the aggregate, could be likened to bishops and rooks that have a wide range but have limitations determined by the state of the current game.  They can only move as far as they are empowered.

The king and queen are the most important pieces in chess.  Although there is only king piece and one queen piece, the loss of either one determines the outcome of the game.  The queen piece can move in any direction and past any number of empty spaces, but the loss of it is keenly felt by the player.  If your king is in check, a player must find a way to protect it less it falls, and the game is lost.

As a chess player, you have to protect your king and queen.  Who are they?  The king and queen are your clients, your firm as a business, and all that comes along with it.

You protect your king and queen by planning and strategy.  That does not mean that you need to analyze every move to its absolute end, but you should at least visualize the end in mind.  Conversely, it makes no sense to make a move without thinking ahead by taking a piece at random and moving it.

Keep the game going by protecting your king and queen.  Stalemates, happen, though and you need to start over.  A stalemate is not a loss in this compliance chess game; it simply means starting where you are and doing better next time.