ICQ Log - Member Profile:

Diarmuid Whyte


Last Updated:  24 March 2022

With the Compliance Institute (formerly ACOI) celebrating its 20th anniversary, its new President, Diarmuid Whyte, talks to ICQ about his experience in compliance, how the Compliance Institute’s membership should blaze their own path and what he hopes to achieve during his Presidency.

Although no stranger to Compliance Institute previously known as the ACOI, Diarmuid is looking forward to rolling up his sleeves, getting stuck in and to do his bit to pave the way for the Institute’s current membership and those of the future into the next 20 years. 
Although compliance was not something Diarmuid initially considered when he left University College Cork (UCC), he has not looked back. “After I graduated from UCC, I went on to study accountancy. I was really interested in numbers and the financial side of things, so a career in business was always on the cards.”


 Diarmuid joined KPMG and became a chartered accountant working mainly on the audits of financial services companies like banks and hedge funds. “That was fascinating, and I suppose it gave me some useful insights for my next job.”

 Keen to develop his skill sets and knowledge of the wider financial services sector, his next job was with the Central Bank of Ireland (“the Central Bank”) Diarmuid worked in largely compliance roles with specific focus on inspection and regulatory reviews that covered everything from corporate governance, capital requirements, client assets, general compliance, and Internal Audit. He was also involved in the Client Asset Specialist Team within the Central Bank when it was set up and subsequently conducted inspections across a wide range of firms. 

“What appealed to me was that I got to explore and understand different firms, the diversity of their business models and how the regulations apply to them, it could havebeen anything from spread betting to stockbroking and other types of investment management.” 
Diarmuid joined the Central Bank at an interesting juncture in its own development. 

“When I joined the Central Bank, it was undergoing its own evolution, changing its perspective with a greater risk focus and was starting to go down the road of Probability Risk and Impact SysteM (“PRISM”). The diversity of exposure to differing regulations and entities meant it was a hugely interesting time and importantly I would definitely recommend the experience.”

 Armed with this experience he was well-equipped to take on the next role, this time with the IFG Group which was later acquired by Willis Tower Watson, following a spate of local and international M&A activity by the latter. 

Diarmuid joined IFG as compliance manager in 2013 and ended up as Chief Risk Officer and Head of Compliance with Willis Towers Watson Ireland by the time he left in 2016. The previous Head of Compliance of Ireland had departed for another opportunity, so Diarmuid thought why not throw my hat in the ring. The job was across MiFID occupational pensions business, individual life advisory business, credit insurance brokerage and insurance broking. 
“It was very enjoyable and involved a steep learning curve which was both interesting 
and challenging. The most senior opportunities do not always appear with great frequency so it can be important to grasp them when they do arise”. 
“Every compliance professional will have their own approach but a key message for members here is to back yourself. Trust your judgement and where challenges on interpretation do not be afraid to bounce concepts with colleagues and peers. I believe in blazing your own trail, believing in yourself and most importantly with hard work you can achieve your goals. The views and perspectives that you bring should be valued as it allows practices to be looked at through a different lens”.

 A spell in stockbroking beckoned when he became Head of Compliance with Cantor Fitzgerald in Dublin. 

“After a period of time, the Head of Client Asset Oversight was added to my responsibilities. Stockbroking was very different with a large array of services and activities which are considered to be higher risk. It was an enjoyable experience.” 

A significant factor for Diarmuid in the Head of Compliance roles is the diversity. Diversity for Diarmuid is not just the people, though this is a key ingredient, it is the diversity of the business model, the diversity of products, the diversity of internal and external stakeholders. These ingredients mix to make a fantastic experience with never a dull day. After two years in the stockbroking world, Diarmuid was then approached by one of the biggest global financial institutions, Citibank, to join as Head of Client Asset Oversight for the Irish entity and its’ EU branches, a role which then developed to include other areas including Deposit Guarantee Oversight. 

Citibank Europe plc, which has its headquarters in Dublin has been operating in Ireland since 1988 and was one of the first companies to receive a license to operate in the IFSC. Now its activities span everything from markets and securities services, banking capital markets right through to treasury and trade solutions and private banking. 

“When I started, I had to get my head around the sheet dept and breadth of service offerings Citi has in Dublin and the wider EU.” 
“I remember when I was at KPMG, I used to audit Citi Hedge Fund Services and I always had this perception that it largely operated in the funds space, but the reality is that it is an enormous global company with diverse offerings across a wide number of areas. It is also a fantastic company to work for with great opportunities for staff to advance and learn.”

 If there is a common thread running throughout Diarmuid’s career to date it is his exposure to a broad and diverse range of financial service providers and business models all of which have very distinct and unique compliance requirements and objectives, something which makes him particularly suitable for his role as the Institute’s President. 

“I was fortunate to get the opportunities along the way as they have given me great  insights and experience across a diverse number of areas, and I am very grateful for that. These opportunities allowed me to challenge myself and develop.”

 “My time with the Central Bank, in particular, was most helpful when it came to getting a deeper understanding about how a regulator may interpret obligations and requirements. I believe being able to bring that skill-set to the business is valuable. However, it is not only valuable to the business but also the regulator in ensuring firms have suitable arrangements to ensure compliance. So, the Central Bank experience for me, was fantastic and has helped me ever since.” 

Diarmuid, of course, is no stranger to the Institute. His first involvement came in 2012-2013 when a former colleague asked him if he would be interested in becoming part of the Finance, Risk and Administration Committee (FRAC). 

“I only stepped down as chairman of that committee in June 2021 the experience was interesting and informative, and you get to meet and share knowledge with colleagues across the compliance industry which is invaluable. Additionally, it benefited me in allowing me to stay involved with my original interest of financials”. 

As the Compliance Institute’s new President, Diarmuid says he is looking forward to continuing the work of previous Presidents and committee members who have voluntarily given up their spare time to help the Institute grow and expand. 

As a Corkman, one of several things on his Presidential agenda is to continue to expand the Institute’s membership base nationally and beyond. 

“I would like to see a re-invigoration of the Compliance Institute’s chapters and I will be working closely with Michael Kavanagh and the Executive team to try and achieve this. I recognise the thriving financial services industry in Leinster but also the wider financial service providers operating around the country whether its venture capital firms in Cork or fund administrators in Limerick. So, I think there are lots of opportunities there for us to continue to grow our membership.”

 With diversity and inclusion looming large on the agendas of many businesses and member organisations, Diarmuid says that is another thing on the radar for his presidency. “I would like to see further diversity and inclusion within Compliance Institute and the broader industry. 
One of the things we are looking at is how we can do something at committee level that has a diversity and inclusion focus. The compliance role in many companies is uniquely positioned to influence and direct change, so I think we need to do a lot more on this front.” 


“Thankfully, within Compliance Institute we have benefited from having a diverse council over my time as a Director with two of the three past presidents being female. All businesses, in every sector, need to look at their diversity and inclusion policies and practices. I would love our members to feed into this at council level, join us in driving the Compliance Institute’s strategy and would encourage you to put yourself forward to join us on Council.” 

Another area of keen interest for the President and the Institute will be working on the whole client asset landscape. With the Central Bank’s imminent amendments to the Client Asset Regulations (CAR) expected at the end of March or early April, there will be substantial interest within Compliance Industry for a better understanding of what the new regulations will entail. Currently they apply MiFID investment firms, but this is about to change. 

“The rules that have been in place for investment firms will now be extended to credit institutions with some amendments, so there is a big opportunity for the Institute to develop something around this area once the regulations and the guidance are issued”.

 On the wider stage, Diarmuid says that the pace of regulation will show no let up over the next few years as wave after wave of national and EUinitiated regulations continue to have an impact on the wider industry. 

“It is always going to be a challenge for compliance professionals and in recent years there has been a constant stream of it. We had MiFID II in 2018, we’ve had GDPR and going forward we are going to have regulations on things like digital assets, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) which is going to be a really interesting one and then of course the other big one coming down the line will be the Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) which is going to have a big impact across the board.”  

“But we will be ready for them and that’s one of the wonderful things about the Institute and its ability to be able to help our members understand what’s coming down the line by preparing them and giving them the knowledge to be able to act.” 

It is also one of the reasons why Compliance Institute has been so successful, Diarmuid adds. 

“One of the major purposes of the Institute is to provide a top-quality educational offering for our members and we have been very successful in that. We are very fortunate in that we have brought in the best experts in their fields, including regulators, and this has helped us deliver quality CPD training and expert and knowledge-led events. But one of the great things is the networking opportunities we offer to members who can reach out to fellow members and colleagues and bounce things off them whether it is help with interpreting things correctly or seeking the appropriate direction of travel with something”. 

“This has always been one of our great strengths and it’s down to the commitment and hard work of our members and the executive down through the years.” 

“The reality is the Institute exists for its members and thanks to its members, it has been successful for the last twenty years and hopefully will continue to be successful for the next 20 years,” Diarmuid concludes. 

ICQ Summer Edition 2020

This article was taken from Compliance Institute's ICQ Spring Edition 2022