What does it take to work in Compliance?
Compliance managers are undoubtedly one of the more sought-after professions in this regulatory day and age, in addition to their analyst, consultant and officer peers. Typically coming from backgrounds in banking, law, Big Four consultancy roles and working with regulators, those seeking compliance jobs possess a head for business and a mind for strategic problem solving.
Tasked with monitoring any and all business activities within the realm and remit of the regulatory framework set out by the relevant governing bodies, a compliance manager will advise both on potential opportunities to be gained through regulatory change as well as where the business could expose itself to risk. As a result, those working in compliance are duly expected to understand the business at all levels and its needs in order to provide solutions which serve to benefit the business and mitigate compliance risk.
Compliance professionals are expected to keep themselves updated on regulatory developments, and with the EU GDPR approaching in May 2018 set to change the way businesses manage data protection, those applying for compliance jobs must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the incoming directive and how the business should respond to it. This is where strategic thinking comes into play as compliance teams assess whether any amendments to policy and procedures, as well as employee training are necessary. A hiring manager may insist on prior compliance experience, particularly in highly regulated fields such as financial services, in light of the stringent regulatory landscape in which businesses are currently operating.
Responsible for all things legal and ethical when it comes to the company’s conduct in the wider arena, candidates applying for roles in compliance must be able to demonstrate that they are effective communicators, both in person and on paper. Understanding this complex information is only half the equation as then it is up to the compliance manager to disseminate that information in a way that is clear and concise to the rest of the business, either through staff training, public speaking or internal communications. Using the information to ensure the business is complying with industry regulations and standards also demands an individual to be voraciously ethical in both their decision-making and instruction to others.
Know that working in compliance requires the ability to simultaneously evaluate the bigger picture as well as noticing the smaller details. This skill goes hand in hand with analytical thinking as compliance professionals spend a vast proportion of their time scrutinising convoluted laws and regulations. Being a keen problem-solver and devouring knowledge for breakfast, lunch and dinner is key to compliance, as is the skill to deviate between proactive and reactive thinking when it comes to regulatory breaches that require effective and timely action to be resolved.
Employers and hiring managers interviewing for compliance roles want to see someone with a knack for strong teamwork, someone who can fluently and effectively communicate with everyone involved in the business, from key stakeholders to lower management and someone who will remain unflustered in a highly pressurised working environment.
Salaries in compliance vary broadly dependent on position, experience and the area of compliance within which one is looking to work. With average incomes settling between £30,000-50,000 for starting analyst positions and those with upwards of 3 years’ experience generating median incomes of between £50,000-80,000, while the more senior roles conduct anywhere from £70,000-£170,000; the compliance space is certainly one to pursue if you have the right skills and experience.