CAREER IN COMPLIANCE
Finance is a discipline which branches out into several other sub divisions which can be pursued as lucrative career options. Within financial institutions, banks or brokerage firms, there are departments that make sure that that compliance with all the known regulations, laws and rules is taken care of. This department, also known as the compliance department, has a variety of roles and responsibilities within the organization. Some of these roles and responsibilities include:
- Monitoring of trade activities
- Prevention of conflicts of interest
- Complete compliance with regulatory authorities operating at the brokerage firm
- Prevention of money laundering
- Tax evasion at financial institutions operating at a large scale
The compliance department is often known as the firm’s very own police department and is not considered as one of the most sought after units within an organization. A capable and proficient compliance department is a necessity for the maintenance of an organizations reputation and veracity.
After the crisis that hit financial institutions throughout the globe in 2008, many firms have become conscious of the compliance demands that have been imposed by regulatory authorities. Due to this, compliance as a career option has become popular and firms are continuously looking for experienced compliance professionals to help run their business smoothly.
For firms, compliance costs have become rather high in the recent years. However, an argument to that is that non-compliance can land a firm in greater trouble, if not taken care of. Non-compliance may result in heavy monetary fines, sanctions and damage to the reputation of the firm.
When talking about financial businesses, compliance can operate at two levels:
- Level 1: Compliance with the external regulations and rules that are supposed to be following by the whole organization
- Level 2: Compliance with the internal control systems that are put in place in order to achieve compliance with the external regulations and rules that have been imposed on the organization
What is regulation?
It is noteworthy to mention the context in which regulation is used in the concept of compliance. The term “regulation” refers to a set of rules and laws that are imposed by a public or private body that has the authority and power to monitor compliance activities and apply any sanctions that may be due to the violation of the compliance rules.
Why is compliance important for businesses?
In order to delve further into this branch of finance, it is important to understand why it is important and what its benefits are.
Inefficient and ineffective compliance puts an organization under substantial business risk. If an organization is not able to demonstrate compliance to the imposed rules and regulations, they are exposing themselves to risks which include:
- Under confident directors and officers who are not sure about whether they have fully met their duties and have concerns regarding possible liabilities
- Reputation to damage as regulators may require the firm to operate under strict sanctions and may also cancel the firm’s license to carry out business
- An organization might not have fulfilled all the obligations to its clients. This would create doubts and may result in double checks, resulting in diversion of precious time and effort
- Support from shareholders and the community might get cut off
Compliance matters become more complicated as the business grows and expands. An organization will have added and more complex responsibilities towards its workers, hiring, firing, wages, and other company related matters. Moreover, the buying and selling activities may also be affected if it, for example, falls under the patronage of a government agency.
Some significant advantages of resorting to compliance include:
- Reduction in legal complexities and problems
The most understandable results of taking care of compliance regulations is that the risks of fines, penalties, lawsuits, sanctions and business shut down are reduced. When a business does not meet some of the compliance regulations, it may receive a warning from the governing body. However, in other situations, business may have to pay heavy penalties – both monetary and non-monetary. Not taking care of compliance policies may leave a business vulnerable if a client decides to take it to court and file a law suit against it. However, if a business takes care of these regulations, then it is quite difficult to damage it. For this reason, businesses must hire relevant professionals such as certified regulatory compliance managers, to take care of all the compliance activities that need to be fulfilled.
- Improvement in business operations
If compliance is taken care of, business operations may become smoother. An example of this may be the compliance of discrimination and gender equality rules, which may result in employee productivity and lower turnover of employees. Other than the fact that the minimum compliance to regulations can help improve productivity, if businesses become conscious of all the imposed regulations, they will notice that the overall health of the organization and business will improve.
- Improved public and client relations
A company’s marketing material can flaunt its responsibility towards legal obligations and compliance to legal regulations. This will help strengthen its reputation in the industry. An example of this is that when an organization places job advertisements, it may include that it is an equal opportunity employer. This will attract a larger pool of talented candidates and also leave a positive image of the organization.
- Better employee retention
Many compliance laws are based on the protection of the rights of employees working in an organization. If employees feel that they are contributing to an organization which is conscious of their rights, by providing a safe, professional and productive work environment, they will achieve added job satisfaction and productivity.
- Avoidance of criminal charges
In order to keep track of all the different compliance requirements, it is essential for a business to take care of two main things. Firstly, it must have a proper compliance department that is lead by a certified regulatory compliance officer. Secondly, an organization must have access to a compliance kit. A compliance kit is a software and asset of databases that keep track of all the information and help in auditing, risk management, performance management and other issues.
TALKING CAREER: COMPLIANCE RISK JOBS
- Educational requirements
In the past, compliance jobs did not require an extensive education. Rather, a four year bachelor’s degree was enough to land a job in the compliance department. Surprisingly, many people only had high school diplomas, and they were employed in the compliance departments of various organizations. The idea back then was that employees would learn the tricks of the trade on the job.
The finance industry has come a long way since then and, although there is still no concept of specialized regulatory compliance degrees, a degree in finance, management , economics, accounting or law is a pre-requisite if one wants to get hired into a compliance department of a firm. Even though a master’s degree is not a requirement, it may still help to acquire one in any of the related fields.
- Additional Skills
Education and relevant qualification is not the only requirement that is needed to succeed as compliance professionals. Additional skills that will help these professionals to climb the ladder include:
- Attention to detail and ability to review large chunks of data in a short span of time
- Well versed in the rules stated by the governing body so that a firm judgment can be made regarding a company that may or may not be following the compliance rules
- Knowledge of other occupations, vocations and functions such as trading and sales.
- Salary and compensation
Compliance officers and managers are in high demand all throughout the world. With the ever changing regulations, this trend will continue with the coming time as well. But how do you benefit? The main benefit of this is that salaries are expected to remain high in multiple disciplines including compliance. In investment banking, the highest paying compliance jobs include advisory, monitoring, regulatory and “Know Your Client” or “KYC”.
An estimation of two of the most common designations of professionals in the compliance department may be calculated as follows:
- Risk and compliance officer – salary: The average salary of such a professional is approximately $ 64,000 in the United States of America.
- Risk and compliance Manager – salary: The average salary of such a professional is approximately $94,000 per annum in the United States of America.
- Get A Job In Compliance at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/07/compliance-job.asp
- What is Compliance? at http://www.int-comp.org/faqs-compliance-regulatory-environment
- Compliance Department at http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compliancedepartment.asp
- Why compliance? at http://www.certaintycompliance.com.au/why-compliance/
- Importance Of Compliance In Business at http://www.howtolearn.com/2012/08/importance-of-compliance-in-business/
- Importance of Compliance in Business at http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-compliance-business-71173.html
- Salary Spotlight: Compliance Officer at http://www.roberthalf.com/finance/blog/salary-spotlight-compliance-officer