Developing your career in compliance

     Find out how to boost your career in compliance

    Whether you’re looking to move into a compliance role or are a compliance professional wanting to take the next step in your career, continuing regulatory reform means that the demand for people conversant with the regulations and practicalities of finance is high. As a result, despite challenges in the market due to Brexit and the upcoming IR35 regulation, there is still plenty of opportunity to build a successful compliance career, whether you are looking for financial crime, AML or compliance oversight roles. But when it comes to developing your career in compliance, what’s the best route? Read on to find out how to advance your compliance officer career path

    Why compliance?

    For many years, compliance was seen as a box-ticking exercise. Fast-track to today, however, and that’s all changing. Working in compliance can provide an intellectually stimulating, financially rewarding and exciting career at the crossroads of business, law and politics. It’s no longer just about box-ticking - instead, compliance professionals today are often right at the centre of an organisation. They are highly sought after - and as a result, very well-numerated, with management-level salaries exceeding £100,000. And since there’s also a shortage of compliance professionals, especially in niche areas, there’s the opportunity for faster job progression, too. In fact, 79% of compliance departments struggle to recruit the right talent - which means there is scope for rapid progression. But how can you advance your career in compliance?

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    5 ways to advance your career in compliance

    1. Get the right qualifications

    Although it’s not necessary to have a particular qualification to work in compliance, there are some qualifications that can help you get ahead on your compliance officer career path. Onwards from your BSc, BA or undergraduate degree, there are a series of advanced qualifications for those working in financial services compliance. As well as ACAMS qualifications and an MA or MSc in finance, other qualifications include the Diploma of Investment Compliance from the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) which provides a deeper knowledge of the financial service regulatory landscape; not only in the UK, but globally. 

    A shorter option is the six-month Advanced Certificate of Compliance run by the International Compliance Association (ICA), which can be completed mostly remotely outside of work hours. This is good for getting to grips with the basics of compliance, particularly for individuals hoping to work in AML and financial crime. Further compliance qualifications are also available at the London Business School, where the highly-coveted MBA will be particularly useful in angling your leadership insights when it comes to the latter stage of your career.

    If you do decide to further your qualifications, remember: these exams are not designed to be easy, and you will have to factor in significant study time into your already busy schedule. It’s worth it though - after all, while hands-on experience will always be important, gaining qualifications creates a foundation of valuable knowledge and can instil confidence in your future employers. Professional qualifications are a benchmark of competence and excellence, setting you apart from other candidates and helping you to get ahead in your career and maximise your compliance officer career path

    2. The importance of training and development

    As well as qualifications, ongoing training and development is also essential when it comes to developing your career in compliance. Understanding the inner workings of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are integral to progressing your career in compliance. Compliance jobs are reliant upon the standards set out by these regulatory authorities, and therefore you need to be sure you know the latest regulations and any changes when they take place - and without an understanding of the regulatory and legal environment surrounding the industry, it may be harder to land the job you want. If you already know which specific sectors or industries you’d like to work in, you could look on the websites of their professional bodies for courses and study opportunities.

    3. Gain experience and learn on-the-job  

    To climb up the career ladder and ultimately become a CCO, it helps to gain experience across the business. This will then give weight to your understanding of the need for compliance in any one area, whilst your recommendations around how to implement compliance policies will be more valuable because you might be able to have an efficiency angle or a profitability angle. Bringing that front office experience into a back-office function is hugely beneficial, because one can’t be effective without the other. Working across various roles also allows you to hone your skill set: from commercial thinking and financial understanding to the knowledge of business systems and processes, all of these skills are integral for the progression of your career in compliance.

    4. Make sure you network

    To succeed in compliance, you need to build strong relationships with the rest of the business. It’s not just about knowledge and rules and regulations - in order to rise up the ranks, you need to show that you are proactive and that you have great people skills and interpersonal skills. The relationships you foster are crucial to the success of your compliance career, and effective networking can help you to master your ability to be proactive, market yourself and demonstrate how you can add value to the business. As a compliance officer, You’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with people across entire businesses, from senior executives to peers and more junior members of staff. So if you want to be promoted and move forward, you need to work on your holistic skill base and develop your people skills, too.

    5. Be strategic about your career

    Once you’ve had exposure to various areas of business and have some key basic skills under your belt, you’ll need to decide which direction you want your compliance career to go in. Are there specific areas you enjoy, such as general compliance, financial crime, or compliance advisory? Or perhaps you have an interest in specific sectors such as fintech, banking or investment management? After figuring out which areas of compliance interest you, you need to strategically apply for roles that will give you the skills and experience you need to progress your career. Sometimes this could mean taking a sideways step or taking a lower salary in order to get the necessary exposure. 

    For example, if you want to move into Fintech but have only worked in large banks, you’ll probably need to take a pay cut and develop your experience in fintech before working your way up the ranks. More often than not, our clients are looking for a specific skill set and experience that is closely aligned with their business and the role they are hiring for. As a result, loosely transferable skills are not usually enough especially in a tough market. So when it comes to planning your next move, think strategically - and always have the bigger picture in mind!  

     At Twenty84, we are experts in compliance recruitment

    Our team are on hand to provide expert advice no matter where you are in your compliance journey. So if you’re ready to take the next step in your career, contact us today to find out more about the positions we are currently working on and see how we can help you get to where you want to be.


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