NEW YORK — Ethics may soon be added to the list of responsibilities carried out by chief compliance officers at mutual fund companies.
But some industry experts debate whether CCOs are in the best position to address ethics questions or whether fund companies should create chief ethics officers.
"It appears there are two schools of thought on that," said Diane E. Ambler, a Washington-based partner with the law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, Pittsburgh.
"Compliance and ethics do work hand in hand, but they are different," said Ms. Ambler, a contributor to the Chicago-based American Bar Association's Fund Directors' Guidebook.
Compliance deals with rules and regulations, said Keith Darcy, acting executive director of the Ethics Officer Association in Waltham, Mass. Getting compliance officers to think about an abstract concept such as ethics may be difficult, he said.
That doesn't mean it can't be done, some industry experts say.
At an Investment Company Institute meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., last month, Hal Liebes, a New York-based CCO with AMVESCAP PLC of London, told an ethics panel that he was responsible for creating a forum for employees at his company to discuss ethical issues. AMVESCAP is the parent company of Houston-based fund manager AIM Management Group Inc.
Mr. Liebes said it is important to communicate that the rules employees are expected to follow create "the floor of behavior." Behaving ethically involves going beyond what the rules require, he added.