Moving to Compliance from Another Career Path
The most important point to note when deciding to make a professional move, is not to get caught up in the supposed expectations. If you’re considering a move into a career in compliance and you’re coming from an unrelated space, that doesn’t mean you should drop down to a less senior level.
“Don’t be afraid to match your skill and experience coming into a compliance role,” says Senior Compliance professional, Nathan Dearinger. You don’t have to let where you are in your professional timeline hold you back, just because you’re a senior manager in another area of the business or a different position altogether, doesn’t necessarily mean that a career change to compliance is going to mean relegating yourself to a less senior position.
There’s nothing mysterious about working in compliance, asserts Dearinger. Compliance ultimately suits people who are good at learning new things, pay close attention to detail and are willing to follow procedures and checklists. “A lot of compliance systems are established,” explains Dearinger, “so you don’t need to be able to recite legislation backwards and forwards, though certainly that’s a skill you should be able to readily demonstrate if you’ve picked it up in the past.”
The type of people best suited to careers in compliance are data-focused, with a propensity to look through data sets and find anomalies and patterns. You should be able to back up your views and opinions with verifiable data facts in order to properly inform important business decisions. From the facts to the folks you work with, relationship management is an equally important skill for compliance professionals. “You should be able to engage with stakeholders and bring them along on the journey,” explains Dearinger, “you can’t be single-minded, you must be able to engage with people and empathise with their position, though equally be able to get them to see where you’re coming from as well.” That way you can prevent them from doing the wrong thing and direct them towards a more sustainable position.
In terms of the areas people wanting to work in compliance come from, Dearinger speaks to his own experience of seeing people coming from operations roles, either moving internally within a business or crossing over from other organisations. “They’re coming with 5, 7 or 10 years in an operational role and they know the products and processes inside out,” says Dearinger. People can also move into compliance from relationship management-type roles. They may be ready to move away from the more competitive sales-target driven environment of winning new business and prefer to work in an area that still engages the company, the customers, the products and services but is a little gentler.
In truth, so long as you have the underlying skills required for compliance jobs, you could move from nearly any career path. “I had a colleague that used to work in the air force and eventually got a role in air traffic control, later moving over into banking and compliance,” says Dearinger. “On the surface the two industries have nothing to do with one another, but how he is suited to working in compliance is that here is someone who’s got attention to detail, can follow procedures, look for patterns and solve problems, and is a great communicator.”
Add those highly valuable transferable skills up and you have an ideal candidate for a career in compliance. Legislations can be learned and fundamentally so can specific products, so being able to demonstrate the skills you need as a compliance professional can propel you into the space a lot more effectively than you may have expected.