The Complete Compliance Officer

WRITTEN AUG 2020

If there has been a phrase we’ve heard more often than any other over the last two years, it’s been “I wish I had of stayed in compliance”. Twenty years ago, compliance was often seen as one of the least exciting career paths in financial services - and then the financial crisis happened and everything changed. What was by any measure a well paid career became a very well paid career, and senior compliance professionals were all of a sudden earning as much as some of their client facing colleagues. Will this change? Well it would take a very brave politician or regulator to row back on the status quo.

Compliance functions have always faced an image problem. They are seen as a cost base, they are seen as the people who “block” business getting done, but the reality is they are part of creating a safe platform for everyone else to conduct business from. They create the parameters for everyone else to colour in. A good compliance team protects businesses and are pro-business, but they understand that doing things from a strong base makes a business more robust.

So when hiring, what skills (apart from experience) should firms be looking for?

  1. Integritycompliance officer - key skills - recruitment
    It doesn’t need much explanation as to why

  2. Resilience
    There will be many occasions when a compliance professional needs to defend their point of view. This sometimes won’t come without criticism, and so compliance officers need to be resilient

  3. Committed to continuous professional development
    Regulations and industries are ever evolving, and a good compliance manager needs to ensure that they are up to date on the latest developments affecting their employer

  4. Communication
    Compliance officers need to explain complex issues to colleagues with less expertise in a particular field. They also need to ensure that they get buy-in from the teams they interact with. First class communication skills are important.

  5. Risk assessment in a complex environments
    Many firms operate in multiple countries, or complex fields, and interact with several regulators. Whilst it’s unlikely most compliance professionals will have worked in multiple jurisdictions, their ability to understand the direction of travel and what a regulator intends can be invaluable. It saves a lot of legal fees and helps a business respond quickly

It is no coincidence that leading firms have compliance central to their culture. Whilst they are of course under the microscope more, and have the resources to build strong teams, they also understand the value that a strong compliance culture brings. Smaller firms can learn from this and when screening candidates for roles, we always look at the wider skills they bring to a role beyond the necessary experience.

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