top of page

Who Owns Outsourcing and Third Party Risk Management Regulatory Compliance?

Key Takeaways

  • Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) ownership is essential for maintaining compliance and operational integrity.

  • Compliance specialists should set TPRM standards but not own the process to preserve their independence.

  • The UK Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) holds management accountable for outsourced functions.

  • Outsourcing can be hugely beneficial, but it's crucial to select the right partner with a clear understanding of regulations that apply to your business.

  • Reach out to our friendly team of compliance specialists at Leaman Crellin by phone on +44 (0) 20 3576 3349 or by email to for tailored guidance for effective TPRM ownership.

Implementing a Robust TPRM Program

With the stakes so high, creating a robust TPRM program is not just advisable; it's imperative. This involves developing a framework that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved, and that is flexible enough to adapt to changing regulatory landscapes.

A robust TPRM program should include comprehensive due diligence processes, ongoing monitoring, and a proactive approach to risk management. It should also have clear reporting lines and communication channels to ensure that information flows freely and that any issues are addressed promptly.

Creating Compliant and Effective TPRM Policies

Creating policies that are both compliant and effective begins with a deep understanding of the regulatory requirements and the specific risks your firm faces. Policies should be tailored to the firm's needs and should be clear, concise, and easily understandable. Compliance specialists play a key role in drafting these policies and ensuring that they are communicated effectively to all stakeholders.

Key Strategies for Maintaining Independent Compliance Oversight

Maintaining independent compliance oversight is essential for the integrity of the TPRM program. This means that compliance specialists should have the authority to challenge and provide guidance to the business without fear of conflict. Strategies to maintain this independence include regular training, clear separation of duties, and establishing a culture of compliance throughout the firm.

Choose Wisely

There are times when outsourcing can be the most strategic move for a firm. This might be due to resource constraints, the need for specialised expertise, or the desire to focus on core business activities. However, it's important to remember that outsourcing does not absolve the firm of its risk management responsibilities. The onus is still on the firm to ensure that the third-party vendor is managing risks appropriately.

When to Consider Third Party Solutions

Firms should consider third-party solutions when they lack the internal expertise or resources to manage TPRM effectively. Before making this decision, it's important to assess the potential benefits against the risks and costs associated with outsourcing. Factors such as the complexity of the firm's third-party relationships, the regulatory environment, and the vendor's track record should all be considered.

Identifying Potential Vendors

Choosing the right vendor is a critical decision. Start by looking at their credentials and experience in the field. Check for industry certifications, compliance with relevant regulations, and a history of successful partnerships. Request case studies or references to better understand how they've provided services to other firms.

Furthermore, ensure that they have robust security measures in place to protect your data and that of your customers. After all your third-party's risk becomes your risk, so choose a vendor that takes this responsibility as seriously as you do.

Evaluating Potential Vendors

When evaluating potential vendors, look for those with a strong demonstrable expertise and a clear understanding of your firm's specific needs. It's also important to consider a vendor’s understanding of, and ability to, comply with the regulations and standards that apply to the activities they will be performing on your behalf. By doing so, you can ensure that you're partnering with a vendor that will enhance, rather than undermine, your efforts.

This includes reviewing their track record, customer testimonials, and their approach to risk management. It's also crucial to assess their understanding of your industry and the specific risks your firm faces. Remember, the right vendor should feel like an extension of your own team, not just an external vendor.

Assessing Your Preferred Vendor

Once you have identified your preferred vendor you need to conduct a thorough assessment and due diligence. Remember this is way more than a box-ticking exercise. It's about ensuring a vendor aligns with your firm's values, risk appetite, and compliance requirements.

To ensure you're making an informed decision, always conduct thorough due diligence on potential vendors. Start by vetting potential vendors based on their experience, customer feedback, and their approach to risk management. At LC we offer a checklist so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting something. It's also wise to conduct a pilot project or trial period to evaluate the vendor's performance before committing to a long-term relationship.

Roles and Responsibilities Demystified

So, once you’ve onboarded your vendor the question frequently arises as to who should own the TPRM process? It's a question that often leads to a debate.

On one hand, the business unit that owns the relationship with the third-party vendor is naturally positioned to oversee the risks. On the other hand, the compliance department has the expertise to evaluate and monitor the regulatory risks effectively. Whereas the procurement department will have the expertise to advise on the extent to which the terms of the arrangement are being adhered.

Adherence to SMCR and Other Regulations

Under the SMCR, senior managers are held personally accountable for any breaches of conduct, which extends to the activities of third-party vendors. Therefore, it is vital for firms to have a clear structure for TPRM ownership that aligns with these regulatory requirements. Compliance specialists must guide their firms in understanding these responsibilities and implementing processes that uphold the highest standards of accountability.

The Role of Compliance in TPRM

Compliance specialists are the guardians of a firm's integrity. They ensure that the firm adheres to laws, regulations, and internal policies. In the context of TPRM, their role is to establish the framework within which risks must be assessed and managed. However, they should not 'own' the process. Why? Because ownership implies a level of involvement that compromises their objectivity and independence – the very qualities that make them effective in their role.

Procurement's Place in Outsourcing Operations

Procurement teams often find themselves involved in TPRM because they have the expertise in vendor selection and contract management. However, their primary focus is on cost-efficiency and securing the best terms for the company. While they are important players in the TPRM process, the ultimate ownership should rest with those who have the authority and knowledge to manage the risks – typically, this would be the senior management team.

Third Party Risk Management Decoded

When it comes to managing risks associated with third-party relationships, pinpointing who exactly should hold the reins can be a complex puzzle. But it's a puzzle worth solving because, in today's interconnected business environment, the implications of not having a clear ownership structure can lead to significant regulatory and operational challenges.

Defining the Landscape of Third-Party Risk Management

At its core, Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) is about understanding and mitigating the risks that come with outsourcing services or functions to external entities. It's a critical component of a robust risk management strategy and, because of its importance, it must be managed with care and precision.

Most importantly, TPRM is not just about ticking boxes for compliance; it's about protecting your firm from potential fallout that can arise from third-party failures. This could range from data breaches to supply chain disruptions – all of which can have a lasting impact on your firm's reputation and bottom line.

Understanding Outsourcing and Its Stakeholders

Outsourcing is a strategic move for many firms looking to focus on their core competencies. It involves entrusting a third party to manage certain business activities, but it comes with its own set of risks. Stakeholders in this process typically include the business unit initiating the outsourcing, the procurement team, the compliance department, and of course, the third-party service vendor.

Each stakeholder has a role to play, and understanding these roles is key to ensuring the success of the TPRM program. For instance, the business unit must clearly articulate their business case for outsourcing, while the procurement team is responsible for advising on how to select the right third-party vendor and negotiating terms that protect the firm's interests.

Continuous Improvement and Adapting to Changes

Continuous improvement is the name of the game in TPRM. As regulatory landscapes shift and new risks surface, your TPRM program must evolve. This means regularly reviewing and updating your risk assessments, staying abreast of changes in the regulatory environment, and being open to adopting new methodologies and technologies. Encourage a culture of learning and adaptability within your firm to ensure that your TPRM practices remain effective and compliant.

The Future of TPRM

The TPRM industry is dynamic, with new challenges and solutions constantly emerging. As technology advances, so too do the opportunities for improving risk management processes. We're seeing a trend towards use of predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to enhance production of management information away from static packs towards predictive dynamic data that enables decisions to be taken in the moment before an issue blows up rather after the event at the end of the month. This technological evolution is not just a trend; it's becoming a necessity for firms that want to stay ahead of the curve in managing risk.

Continuing to build strong relationships with trusted vendors will also be key to navigating the complexities of the future risk environment. By staying informed and prepared, compliance specialists can ensure that their firms are well-positioned to manage third-party risks effectively, both now and in the future.


In conclusion, TPRM ownership is not a static concept; it's a strategic decision that requires careful consideration and ongoing management. Whether you choose to manage TPRM in-house or outsource it, the goal remains the same: to protect your firm from the risks associated with third-party relationships. By staying informed, leveraging technology, and choosing the right partners, you can build a TPRM program that not only meets compliance requirements but also contributes to the overall resilience and success of your firm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Third Party Risk Management?

Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling the risks associated with outsourcing services or functions to third-party vendors. It involves due diligence, ongoing monitoring, and management of the relationships to protect an firm from potential risks such as data breaches, compliance violations, and operational disruptions.

Who Typically Owns the TPRM Process in a Firm?

Ownership of the TPRM process typically lies with senior management who have the authority and accountability to oversee third-party relationships. However, it's a collaborative effort that involves various stakeholders including the compliance team, procurement, and the business units that interact directly with third-party vendors.

How Does the SMCR Influence TPRM Ownership?

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) influences TPRM ownership by holding senior managers accountable for the actions of their firm, including those of third-party vendors. This regulatory framework ensures that there is a clear line of responsibility and accountability for managing the risks associated with outsourcing.

What Are the Key Factors in Choosing a Vendor?

When choosing a vendor, consider their expertise in risk management, their track record with similar firms, their understanding of industry-specific risks, and their compliance with regulatory standards. It's also important to evaluate their technology capabilities and their approach to data security

and privacy.

How Can Firms Ensure Effective Oversight?

Firms can ensure effective oversight by establishing clear lines of communication, setting well-defined performance metrics, and conducting regular audits of the vendor's activities.

It's also vital to have contractual agreements that clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations of both parties.

Please contact our Friendly Team at Leaman Crellin Limited for assistance with Third-Party Risk Management / Outsourcing


Explore your one-stop, on-demand compliance solution centre

Whatever your compliance needs, we’re confident you’ll find what you want in our Compliance Solution Centre

bottom of page