One of the underlying themes of Chuck Senatore’s 22-year career as a compliance officer is that through collaboration, great things are possible—from his in-house compliance work at Merrill Lynch and Fidelity Investments to the founding of the Boston RegTech meetup, the hallmark of Senatore’s career is collaboration and inclusion.
Senatore describes his reaction to his first foray into a compliance role as somewhat less than enthusiastic. After spending several years as the director of the Southeast Region of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission he was asked, upon assuming a legal role at Merrill Lynch, if he wanted to manage the compliance program of a major business unit. Senatore wasn’t sure that compliance was something he wanted to take on. At the time, the compliance role at the firm was a bit removed from the business. The legacy view (familiar to many compliance officers) was that compliance was often seen in the industry as the “anti-business department.”
Instead, Senatore saw his role as one of trusted partner to the business, bringing a different skill set and focusing on compliance in common sense ways that made it understandable to his peers in the business units. Drawing from his experience working for a life insurance company to pay for college expenses, Senatore was able to connect with brokerage management as to how hard it can be to build a business.
Approaching issues from the point of view of his internal partners at Merrill Lynch, Senatore endeavored to work with them on repairing the optics of the role of the compliance officer. Recognizing the importance of communication and access, Senatore told them, “I will try my darnedest to get to ‘Yes’ and only say ‘No’ if I can’t do it … and in exchange I want to be introduced to the management team.”
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