Top benefits of a good due diligence report
Conducting due diligence on your third parties is an integral part of running a compliance programme, as it helps you uncover risks that might otherwise slip past if third parties simply answered questionnaires or were trusted to self-disclose information.
The benefits of a high-quality due diligence report are, therefore, immensely valuable. Here we discuss four things you should get from a good due diligence report.
1. Knowledge about the integrity and compliance risks of a third party
First and foremost, at its bare minimum a due diligence report gives findings about a third party’s history of compliance to laws on anti-bribery and anti-corruption (ABAC), fraud and money laundering, and anti-competitive behaviour. The report should provide details about any media reports, investigations, legal proceedings, enforcement actions, sanctions and fines, and any other run-ins that the third party has had with the authorities.
In places where laws are poorly enforced, press is severely restricted, illicit dealings are deeply entrenched in business, or business is run with very limited transparency, this information is especially important so it is essential to source information from on-the-ground sources, such as former employees, clients, local partners and business journalists. What these sources know about the third party and its reputation locally and within its sector, including possible associations with influential persons or illegal organisations, can be very beneficial.
2. Visibility into the business and operational risks of a third party
A comprehensive due diligence report also gives information about the business and operations of a third party, and the related risks the third party may bring into your business if it is onboarded. For example, a third party may be compliant with local and international ABAC regulations; however, if its financial statements underline a steady increase in losses in the past few years, it might not be wise to onboard this third party.
Checking for operational risks also looks at the size of the third party, how long the third party has been operating, the third party’s locations and whether these locations make sense for business, and the third party’s overall presence in the market. A good due diligence report not only informs you about a third party’s compliance issues but also – and this is equally important – about its ability to actually do business with you and fulfil its obligations to you.
3. Expert insights to allow you to onboard the right third parties for the right reasons
A good due diligence report is not just a data dump. The report needs to prioritise the findings that are really valuable to your purpose for conducting due diligence in the first place and present these findings in the context of the location, industry and laws applicable to the third party. For example, while a third party might have been listed as having breaches in health and safety regulations, we cannot just reject onboarding this third party – some analysis is required. The finding must be put into the context of the third party’s industry and location, and whether such breaches actually result in material risk for the third party and, potentially, your business. Such risk prioritisation and insight are things only country and industry experts can provide. In short, some things might look like a major risk, but further analysis from local experts may suggest otherwise.
Going further, quality reports will contextualise the identified risks based on the type of engagement you will have with the third party. The nature and severity of the risks of a potential distributor, for example, are inherently different from those of a supplier: the risks of a potential distributor may lie with its compliance primarily to ABAC laws, while those of a supplier may lie with its compliance to environmental, social and governance standards. In other words, we need our distributors to engage in ethical business while our suppliers need to have minimal risks related to potential disruptions to operations.
4. Information about which steps the third party could take to become an appropriate candidate for your distributor or supplier programme
Yes, a good report presents the risks and provides the expert insights. What now? A best practice report will also provide ideas on the possible measures that the third party can implement to ensure they are a suitable candidate for becoming your business partner.
For example, if a report revealed that the third party was recently investigated in relation to an allegedly rigged government bidding, and local expert insight suggests these types of investigations often imply civil and criminal liabilities, the action to be taken by the third party can be as simple as full disclosure of their exact involvement and the legal remedies they have taken to mitigate the risks to your business. This information will help you determine whether it is worth having this third party in your partner programme.
Another example might be a report revealing that the third party has suffered financial losses for the past three years. Expert insight might suggest that such losses present a legitimate business continuity risk. In this case, if the third party truly wants to do business with you, it should provide evidence of a comprehensive business plan for getting out of the red, proving that you can rely on it to provide you with the products and services that you need in the foreseeable future.
Essentially, the benefits of a good diligence report can be summarised as providing value to your business by bringing you quality and useful information about your third parties. Information is power. That is applicable in many areas of business, and it is certainly applicable in compliance.