Taking Personal Responsibility for your Compliance Career



Whether you’re just entering the compliance job market, or you’d consider yourself an industry veteran, taking personal responsibility for your compliance career should be a key priority. But what do we mean when we say that?

You’ll find that the people who become successful come under the professional dictionary alongside terms like 'taking the initiative', 'being proactive', 'being self-aware'. The minute we realise that our own professional destiny is in fact in our hands is a powerful realisation because that is the minute we begin to take action. So, what action specifically should someone working in compliance be taking?

“To begin with, it’s about continuing to educate yourself,” says financial compliance professional, Renita Vink. There are various routes you can go down to begin with, one being of course the formal compliance qualification route, particularly if you’re coming from a legal background; it would certainly be wise to consider a diploma or certificate in compliance. However, if you don’t have the means or the time for that path you will find a wealth of information on opportunities via companies like Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Frost & Sullivan and so on, who offer webinars and seminars, which are often free, on different industry-specific topics.

These webinars offer you the chance both to educate yourself on something new while at the same time presenting you with a lucrative networking platform. Vink attributes great value to networking with one’s peers at events such as these because information is power, but so is who you know and more importantly who knows you.

In the pursuit of continuous self-education, in addition to attending virtual or in-person events you would also do well to subscribe to relevant reading material and follow prominent thought leaders via social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn. This is a great way to stay abreast of the latest trends.

From self-education to self-development, while it’s so easy to get bogged down in the 9 to 5, Vink suggests carving out an hour a week or every fortnight to dedicate to self-development. While that doesn’t mean using work hours to study for your degree or certification, it could mean taking a little time to work on projects or reading or shadowing a colleague. This time spent on self-development, whichever area you require it in, will help you stay up to date and current on trends, skills and knowledge within your industry, something that is valuable both to you personally and to your company.

Often for compliance professionals, opportunities for self-development are led by a need to nurture certain soft skills. They’ll typically struggle with things like presentation skills or clear communication, but so long as you can identify the area you need to improve upon that’s when you’re able to turn them into productive opportunities for learning and development.

Engaging your supervisor or work leader in your quest for personal career development is key also. Vink explains that many of the big corporates and big banks have a development planning program that feeds into your performance discussions. So, make the most of it, document the professional and learning goals you’d like to set for yourself and make them known so that your seniors can help facilitate opportunities for that development.

“Remember though, they’re not expected to provide the learning and hold your hand through it,” says Vink, “that’s your responsibility, but they must be involved in it.”

Whether it’s a new piece of legislation coming out that you want to become an expert in or you’re building your confidence in presentation skills, your leader can support you in those goals. Perhaps they know of a working group you can sit in on to learn more about that legislation, or they can arrange for you to present at the next team meeting; if they are part of the conversation, they can help you identify opportunities for your personal career development.

Working backwards from your 5-year plan, to 3 years, to the first 6-12 months, a good manager will want to be in the loop and once they are it is up to you as well as them to check in on a quarterly basis to see how you’re tracking.


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