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Sunil Kumar KN: Exemplifying That Law Abiding Is About Principles

Sunil Kumar KN: Exemplifying That Law Abiding Is About Principles

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Sunilkumar KN,Chief Compliance Officer

Sunilkumar KN

Chief Compliance Officer

Enterprise ethics and compliance executives represent a rapidly maturing profession. It began to emerge in the late 1980s when several government initiatives and high level commissions began recommending that specific senior-level personnel should have responsibility for overseeing an organization's compliance and ethics program. These key business leaders are responsible not only for maintaining compliance, but also for upholding what is arguably an organization’s most valuable asset: its reputation. Now, what separates a ‘good’ ethics and compliance program from a ‘great’ one? The answer to it is probably lies in the professional journey of Sunil Kumar KN.

Sunil Kumar KN is a professional banker with twenty four years of combined experience, as in-house Compliance Adviser and Legal Attorney. He has extensive exposure and practical experience, in leadership roles in regulatory compliance, business advisory and banking laws with Federal Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Reserve Bank of India (Banking Regulator) and other commercial banks. In his years of practice, he has successfully built Compliance and Conduct framework to manage regulatory and reputation risks for banks in general and multiple business areas like Trade, Corporate Finance and Transaction Banking.

He controls and monitors frameworks to ensure compliance with Banking Regulations, Foreign Exchange Regulations, Conflict Management and Business Conduct. In the near past, he has also framed policies for Financial Crime Compliance covering Money Laundering, Sanctions and Bribery, not only for Federal Bank but also trading platform companies of international banking conglomerate. Sunil Kumar specializes in Risk Management and Governance frameworks for financial institutions based on his deep regulatory understanding. Some of the favourite talking points for him are on Team Leadership, Cross Functional Stakeholder Management, Communication and Training, Regulatory Relationship and Advocacy.

A Train Of Experiences
Sunil Kumar brings with him almost 25 years of experience as an Internal Legal Advisor and Internal Compliance Advisor in a plethora of financial institutions in India and abroad. From public sector to private sector, he has been associated with large number of reputed banks, including the Reserve Bank of India as well. In his initial years while he was working with the RBI in its legal team, Sunil Kumar had the opportunity to work closely with various expert committees created by the GoI and RBI at the time. Under World Bank aegis RBI had formulated multiple
working groups to conduct study on ten select areas reflecting significant bottlenecks in the Indian financial sector.

The areas included bankruptcy, money laundering, fraud controls and invoice banking etc. The then Deputy Governor Y. V. Reddy, was heading the study, assisted by a number committees. Sunil Kumar was the point of contact for the expert teams. This experience still catches up with Sunil Kumar and helps him counter a number of professional challenges that come his way. This was a significant turning point in Sunil Kumar’s professional journey. More so, in Singapore, while working as Standard Chartered Group’s Transactional Banking Compliance specialist, Sunil Kumar got the opportunity to understand the global regulatory practices and financial & banking environment. Sunil Kumar’s association with Federal Bank involved a complete transformation for him as a leader, as well as for the bank. Sunil Kumar changed the face of Federal Bank’s compliance structure & culture. Leading his team, Sunil Kumar leveraged his experience of the global environment to bring the compliance standards of Federal Bank at par with the international names in the banking sector.

Sunil Kumar KN is a professional banker with twenty four years of combined experience, as inhouse compliance adviser and legal attorney


Sunil Kumar carries with him exceptional cumulative experiences that followed his postgraduation in Law. After practicing in law, for a short stint, Sunil Kumar moved to Canara Bank. From Canara Bank, he moved to work for the RBI as part of their legal department in the regulatory & administrative functions. ICICI Bank was his next endeavour as the legal advisor to their international & corporate banking operations. After ICICI Bank, Sunil Kumar worked for Standard Chartered Bank for a period of 12 years, before moving to Federal Bank last year. In this span of time, Sunil Kumar aced his know how in laws & regulation, foreign exchange management, trade & cash management and corporate finance. Overall, the banking business compliance is Sunil Kumar’s expertise, wherein with Federal Bank he also exceptionally handles regulatory compliance for digital banking channels.

Role Of A CCO: A Challenge Or An Opportunity To Fix The Wrong
As a professional, from a Chief Compliance Officer’s perspective, Sunil Kumar says, “The biggest challenge for a legal or compliance professional is the interpretations of laws & regulations. Often, these may not be as straightforward as it may appear”. Sunil Kumar’s experience in RBI helped him understand the regulatory mindset and marry the same with professional banking. He further explains, “A regulation needs to be understood from a letter and spirit perspective. Only then you will be able to make almost accurate or correct decision”. Sunil Kumar further speaks about the flipside of
the coin and says, “We might not always be right though, because we’re all part of the risk taking business. It’s important to identify the error and remediate & rectify it.”

Sunil Kumar, very uniquely describes compliance as an art of convincing. He says, “We need to convince two partners. On one side, as an organization, you need to convince the regulator that what you’re doing is right. On the other side, you have to convince your own organization as to what is this compliance requirement and why is it necessary for the business. It’s more like a balancing act because anything could go wrong on either side.”

Technology At Front, Human At Core
Sunil Kumar has been instrumental in rallying Federal Banks digital initiative too. Though he concurs with the necessity of technology in every industry, he quotes and believes in Federal Bank’s principle that states, “Digital at the fore and Human at the core”. Indian Banks challenge surrounding areas like compliance, money laundering, and sanctions could be addressed effectively through data management. Sunil Kumar explains that at present the data management in banks are being handled in multiple systems partly due to legacy implementation and the specifics of each stream. The real solution to this problem is developing a data lake to pool the integrated data from all operating systems. Once the pool is achieved, RPA, machine learning and data mining can be applied to extract the insights. At Federal, we are in the process of Data integration and analytics, that contain both system triggers for exceptions and deeper human analysis on problem areas.

Sunil Kumar has not just built compliance & risk management framework for Federal Bank, but also built and earned the confidence from within the organizations, as well as the regulatory body and using technology as the complaint solution.

Sunil Kumar maintains the work life balance and segregation to a great extent. An avid reader, Sunil Kumar himself has published few works of fiction. He also has a keen interest in history and literature, so much so, that he is working on a historical novel that is soon to hit the stands.

“Sunil Kumar has been instrumental in rallying federal banks digital initiative too”

Speaking on the tremendous support he received from his family, Sunil Kumar enlightens that often the suggestions that they offered worked out just fine with his professional dilemmas. He mentions how his better half has really been a backbone of his work-life balance. Discussions with the family have always been fruitful in every manner- mentally and professionally.

What’s Really Important?
As a Chief Compliance Officer, Sunil Kumar takes line out of his book of life and says that for any institution, financial or otherwise, it is of utmost importance to uphold the laws & regulations of our country. And this applies to our individual life too. “In our individual or professional life, we need to abide the laws as a matter of principle, and not as compulsion,” concludes Sunil Kumar.

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