Chief Compliance Officers: What the role of CCO entails


When working up the compliance career ladder, the role of Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) is an aspiration position at the top of the profession. Requiring one to be both a leader and expert, the role is a position which holds considerable power, influence and lucrative finance salaries.

Looking beyond these lucrative salaries, the average of which is currently £136,738 annually in the UK, demand for CCOs is on the incline. Concentrated regulatory environments and increasing compliance awareness are leaving companies of all sizes vulnerable which in turn creates increased opportunities for the compliance industry and compliance professionals as a whole.

The demand for Chief Compliance Officers is only growing. CCOs are in great demand as companies are finally acknowledging their value and ability to navigate the complexities that increasingly stringent regulatory landscapes bring. This is particularly true with heavily regulated industries such as the financial services and banking sectors. When working towards a CCO role, which typically requires at least ten years of experience, developing robust analytical abilities should be priority.

The path into a CCO role is not fixed given the diverse nature of compliance. Each sector calls for differing knowledge of regulation, ethics, risk and beyond. The role of a compliance officer working in the health industry, for example, requires a set of knowledge when compared with a compliance officer in finance for instance.

The CCO position ranks among a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Executive Officer and requires a compliance professional with refined interpersonal skills capable to communicate with these C-level executives. These interpersonal skills also come into play when relationship building with regulators and management responsibilities. Multitasking abilities is another non-negotiable soft skill.

The continually evolving regulatory landscape creates a dynamic operating environment for CCOs which often involves navigating conflicting regulations and complex restrictions. An element of risk monitoring and vulnerability assessment also fit into the CCO job description. Confidence navigating technology and legal issues is another element of the role, however being a lawyer or an IT expert is not a requirement despite what many believe.

Chief Compliance Officers encounter a dynamic array of challenges in the role, most of which surround the undefined nature of the position. Companies have differing views on where a CCO sit within the organisation; some position the CCO in their general counsel whereas others simply view them almost as a check-box necessity. In order to infuse an underlying compliance culture and sound compliance practices, CCOs should work alongside C-level executives and senior employees at the heart of the business.

Whilst earning lucratively within the compliance sector, when compared with other C-level colleagues, a CCO earns considerably less. Despite the lower pay grade, they are faced with considerable liability, risk and responsibility.

The shortage of compliance professionals coupled with a growing job description and evolving regulatory landscape has created a resource shortage. A positive for a compliance officer looking to quickly move into a CCO role. Advancement is swift, particularly for those who remain within the same sector.

With the diverse opportunities available, working towards a career as a Chief Compliance Officer is an exciting pathway that promises to continue evolving.

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