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FCPA Training – “The First Few Minutes”

The A&E Network has a show, “The First 48,” that I watch on occasion (see here [1]). The show follows real-life homicide detectives from around the country during the “first 48 hours” of an investigation as they race against time to find the suspect.

Why is the “first 48 hours” so important? Because the chance of solving the case is apparently reduced by approximately 50% if the detectives do not get a lead in the “first 48 hours.”

So what in the world does this have to do with FCPA training?

Just as the “first 48 hours” are critical to the success of a homicide investigation, the “first few minutes” are critical to the success of FCPA training.

During those critical “first few minutes” one needs to properly set the tone and engage participants on their level.

If one starts off an FCPA training session like this … “today I will be talking about a U.S. law that makes it a crime to bribe foreign government officials to get business” – you just lost a good portion of your audience and, regardless of what you say during the rest of the training sesssion, your training session will not be as successful as it could have been.

Crime? Steve in the second row of the audience has a clean record and wouldn’t hurt a fly. He coaches his son’s soccer team and worships on the weekend. Joe is thinking to himself, “I have never committed a crime and I don’t intend to – what does this FCPA training session have to do with me?”

Government? Melissa is in the first row of the audience. Her job function is internal audit and finance. She has absolutely no contact or communication with government officials and is thinking to herself “does this company even do business with foreign governments – what does this FCPA training session have to do with me?”

Business? Francisco, the logistics manager from outside the U.S., has been flown in for the FCPA training session. He is thinking “business – I’m not a sales and marketing guy, I just make sure our product gets into and out of the country and I occasionally help secure various licenses and permits for the company – what does this FCPA training session have to do with me?”

For reasons described in other postings on this blog, FCPA training is indeed relevant to the Steve, Melissa and Francisco’s in a company.

To avoid having participants’ minds wander during the “first few minutes” of FCPA training, it may be more effective to start off the training session along these lines.

“Today, I will be talking about a U.S. law that applies to all of you – regardless of whether you are in the sales and marketing department, the executive office suite, the finance and audit department, or the logistics department. This law can cover a wide range of payments the company makes, or could make, either directly or indirectly, in doing business or seeking business in foreign markets. Your understanding of this law and how it may relate to your specific job function will best ensure that the company remains compliant with this law and is able to achieve its business objectives.”