Is Compliance a Good Career Path?



Well, that’s a tricky question. It’s certainly the case that no single profession is going suit everyone, but in our view there are four reasons why many should find the prospect of a career in Compliance an attractive one:

1. Intellectual stimulation. Compliance was once regarded as a box-ticking exercise driven by prescriptive regulation. As regulators move to more principles-based approaches, compliance professionals must become adept at spotting compliance risks in the absence of explicit regulatory guidance. And as your seniority grows, you must do this across an ever wider range of business activities. You must apply strong intuition and judgement, and you’ll need to educate yourself on broader and broader swathes of business functions (product development, marketing, customer operations, IT, etc.).

If this weren’t stimulating enough, regulation itself isn’t set in stone. New regulatory agendas appear on a regular basis, as well as whole new pieces of regulation to address new risks (the European Digital Services Act and the proposed European Artificial Intelligence Act are two good examples, from amongst many).

Compliance professionals must continually learn about new and changing business practices and regulation, exercise strong judgement to identify the fault-lines where compliance risk may emerge and apply strong problem-solving skills to help develop mitigating solutions.

2. Responsibility, fast. The growth in regulation in many industries over the last decade and a half has resulted in a shortage of skilled compliance professionals. Many compliance departments struggle to recruit the right talent and so there is often scope for rapid progression. If you are someone who is blessed not only with the ability to grasp detail but also have strong social skills and can think big picture then you will likely find yourself enjoying a much faster career progression than you might have anticipated.

3. Job security. To say, in the 21st century, that a profession offers bullet-proof job security would be rash. Nonetheless, there are several factors which mean that a career in Compliance can be more secure than many. You will build specialist expertise in specific regulatory domains, most of which are unlikely to go away (e.g., fraud and money-laundering have been blights since the invention of money). There is an ever-growing regulatory universe driven by new technologies and new consumer behaviours (e.g., cryptocurrency, ESG standards, digital content consumption, data protection and privacy, etc.) which will only drive even more demand for compliance professionals. And a career in compliance can include working in the corporate environment but also in a consulting firm or even for a regulator, with many moving from one to the other (and back again!).

4. Making the world a better place. This may sound platitudinous. But if compliance professionals – who ensure that companies comply with regulations whose purpose is to minimise risk and harm to society – aren’t making the world a better place, then who is?

Compliance offers many avenues for a long and stimulating career. If you’re just beginning in compliance (perhaps mired in the detail of reviewing customer files for KYC purposes or some other such administrative task) never forget to think and act for the long-term.



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