LRN Perspectives

Thinking Around the Corner: KKR’s Bruce Karpati Embraces the Passion and Purpose of Ethics, Compliance

December 3, 2019 LRN Corporation

“If you don’t have passion and purpose for your work in compliance, you’re not going to be effective.”

 – Bruce Karpati

This episode of the Principled podcast is hosted by Marsha Ershaghi Hames, who is interviewing Bruce Karpati, Global Chief Compliance Officer at KKR. Bruce has experience both within the government, when he led the SCC’s Asset Management Unit, and within companies, which has given him an appreciation of the importance for compliance and taking regulations seriously. Bruce shares the key characteristics for a Chief Compliance Officer to be successful. He also shares innovative initiatives he is implementing at KKR to get lift-off for his programs across portfolio companies. These endeavors will help ensure that they get out ahead of potential future threats, such as cybersecurity.


  • [0:53] Can you share a little bit about KKR as an organization and its reach?
  • [1:01] KKR is a global investment firm making investments across multiple strategies, including both private and public markets. It also has a capital markets business focusing on underwriting advisory work. The company has 1300 people across 21 offices, requiring a global approach to compliance.
  • [1:32] Can you share about your program and how you approach compliance across your global footprint?
  • [1:41] First, Bruce approaches the global aspect head-on by having direct reports in each of three global regions and within specific business areas. Second, a local approach is taken on the ground to account for differences in regulation. Third, there is specialization across disciplines in things like anticorruption, marketing review and conflicts of interest.
  • [3:09] How do you partner locally to convey some of the core critical messages and how are you holding those local stakeholders on the ground accountable?
  • [3:41] In addition to rules, the compliance program contains core values and principles. Flexibility is required for each of the jurisdictions that the business operates within, but for the most part, stakeholders are held accountable to the program’s principles.
  • [4:38] How much two-way input are you open to from a cultural compliance standpoint?
  • [5:01] Because KKR is headquartered in the US, certain standards will apply across all jurisdictions, but reframing and a little flexibility is required when it comes to the intricacies of European or Asian regulations.
  • [5:51] What innovative tactics have you employed as it relates to lift-off of your compliance strategy?
  • [6:17] The key for KKR is to be proactive at the portfolio company level with an emphasis on anticorruption and cybersecurity. Once a year a Chief Compliance Officer workshop is held at the portfolio level in a particular region to determine risk assessment around anticorruption. Portfolio companies are also gathered to take part in a table exercise where a breach is simulated to get ahead of cybersecurity threats.
  • [8:51] Could you share about your work leading the SCC’s Asset Management Unit and how your approach has been impacted by sitting on both sides of the compliance profession?
  • [9:20] For Bruce’s career, it was really important that he experienced what it was like to be in the government during and after the financial crisis. After the crisis, the unit was really aggressive at looking into all types of investment advisors. Understanding how government examiners operate cemented for Bruce the need to take regulators seriously and the importance of compliance on the whole.
  • [11:31] What are some of the characteristics that a Chief Compliance Officer needs to have to be successful?
  • [11:39] Passion and purpose around compliance are required to be effective. Being relationship-driven is just as important as coming to the role with experience, in order to meet with other business units and establish trust. Treating issues with urgency and acting quickly are also crucial. Finally, leadership for your team and the business are essential, as well as being able to look around the corner.
  • [15:27] What drew you to a career in compliance?
  • [15:42] When Bruce thought about where he could add value, it was being an effective leader in the field of compliance, but he was also super passionate about the subject and addressing the issues.

    Don’t miss our next episode! Be sure to subscribe to Principled on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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