Navigating the World of Compliance Jobs
Compliance jobs exist in basically every industry. Education, retail, healthcare, finance, aviation and so on. So when we talk about the different types of compliance it will ultimately come down to which field you work in. However, it’s also about how you practice compliance, whether you’re coming at it from a legal angle or a regulatory one that will define the different types of compliance.
Generally speaking, compliance types can be assigned to the following categories:
- Financial Compliance which can be subject to worldwide and domestic accounting standards
- Financial Crime (FinCrime) which covers anti-money laundering (AML) and the mitigation of fraud events
- Regulatory Compliance which involves interpreting guidelines and policies released by the regulator
- Operational Compliance which essentially monitors the organisation looking for any functions or business practices requiring attention, and
- IT Compliance, which of course handles the compliance of all systems, networks and cyber security measures
Seasoned Compliance professional Nathan Dearinger recalls his role as Head of Compliance for a Regional Bank which saw him working across many areas of the bank, from lending to operations, treasury and in-house financial planning. “I also found my role extended to work that would traditionally come under the personnel function,” says Dearinger. “Dealing with physical assets such as bank branches, head office, cars and so on. The Compliance Manager might be involved with monitoring insurance, from the Director’s liability insurance to work cover to car and buildings insurance.”
Depending on the organisation, the compliance team may or may not work closely with the legal department. If you’re coming at your compliance career with a legal degree then reporting into the Chief Legal Counsel and being closely aligned in that sense may appeal to you. It really depends on what you are looking for.
“Lots of organisations have a distinct legal function and they’re only there to identify legal obligations and provide advice on matters, whereas the compliance team work with the business to execute those obligations and put any advice into action,” says Dearinger.
If you’re a legal practitioner working in compliance, your role is about interpreting legislation and legal obligations and assessing the specific application of business outcomes to determine how the business can achieve those while remaining within the law. On the flip side, a non-legal compliance professional is helping the business to present these problems. They need to be aware of compliance regulations and obligations but be more attuned to talking to the business, ensuring that they don’t go beyond the proverbial electric fence to non-compliance while maximising the opportunity.
“It’s up to candidates to do a bit of research to ascertain what they’d like,” says Dearinger. “Are you coming from an economics background with a view to working in compliance in the treasury function of a bank? Or do you want a more diverse experience, helping with an insurance claim one day and another day helping to implement a new regulatory change? Then operations may be more your fit.”
Though particular legislation can of course be learned, it’s not necessarily a simple transition for someone working in insurance compliance to switch over and start working in banking. Understanding the legislation unique to each part of a business or different industries and honing the skills and subject matter expertise will lead you down the path of specialist in your compliance career. “You can either become a specialist or a generalist,” says Dearinger, “and as a generalist you can jump between areas more easily and potentially move into more of a leadership role.”
The idea is to play to your strengths and move into that trusted business partner and adviser position that is typical of risk and compliance roles. You want the business to take your advice on how to keep themselves safe and respect your feedback on how things can be improved, grown or shifted.