Richard Bistrong | Contributing Editor
Richard Bistrong spent his career as an international sales executive and currently consults, writes and speaks on foreign bribery and compliance issues from that front-line perspective.
He was named to Compliance Week’s list of Top Minds in 2017 and was one of Ethisphere’s 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics in 2015.
Richard was the vice president of international sales for a large, publicly traded defense supplier, which included residing in the UK and extensive overseas travel.
In 2007, as part of a cooperation agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and subsequent Immunity from Prosecution in the UK, Richard assisted the U.S., UK, and other governments in understanding how FCPA and other bribery and export violations occurred in international sales.
In 2012, after the collapse of the Africa Sting prosecution, Richard was sentenced as part of his own plea agreement, and served fourteen-and-a-half months at a U.S. federal prison camp.
He holds an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
Richard writes about current anti-bribery and compliance issues at www.richardbistrong.com. Information about his consulting practice, Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC, can also be found on that website.
I’ve noticed a positive shift in corporate compliance events, especially during some of my overseas engagements. Compliance initiatives and ethical messages are coming directly from business leaders in addition to compliance executives.
Searching for perverse incentives that can become compliance land mines means messing with people’s pay.
Consider a salesperson that has reached his bonus cap three months before fiscal year-end. Any achievement after that is not only unrewarded, but is actually penalized in the sense of creating higher future performance expectations and targets.
The root causes of perverse incentives often hide (in plain sight) in the most common variable compensation structures, which include payout floors, thresholds, payout caps, and stretch goals.
When compliance leaders ask, “What can I do to better connect with the work-force?” my response is always the same. I encourage them to show their vulnerability.
In the prior post, we talked about reasonable goal setting that can turn into perverse incentives, leading to compliance and reputational disasters like Wells Fargo. In this post, we look at whether companies can contain the excesses of their incentive programs with controls.
When Wells Fargo imposed a target of eight accounts per customer on its branches, the bank created an aspirational goal. Cross-selling is a proven method of encouraging growth and maximizing upside, with little incremental expense.
President Elect Trump’s pick to lead the SEC is Jay Clayton. He wrote in a 2011 NYC Bar Association paper about the FCPA. The paper addressed the “lasting harm to the competitiveness of U.S. regulated companies” due to the “current anti-bribery regime.”
At the Federal Prison Camp in Lewisburg PA where I spent fourteen and a half months, one personal liberty inmates were allowed was reading. Under Bureau of Prison rules, hardcover books could be sent directly to inmates from the distributor, e.g. Amazon, after being opened and inspected by correctional officers.
Much has already been written about the November election and FCPA enforcement and compliance. My perspective comes from a five-year experience cooperating with the DOJ, and which spanned two administrations, including a complete change of leadership at the Justice Department after President Obama’s first electoral victory.