May 11, 2018
Compliance doesn’t exactly have a reputation for the sexiest job out there. But any professional who dismisses it is committing a huge oversight: working in compliance can provide an intellectually stimulating, financially rewarding and exciting career at the crossroads between business, law and politics. And with 79% of compliance departments struggling to recruit the right talent, there’s fantastic scope for rapid career progression for individuals entering the sector.
What does working in compliance ACTUALLY mean?
Many industries, including financial services and gambling, are regulated to ensure that the interests of citizens are protected and the risk of market failure is mitigated. Legislators in UK or EU Parliament pass legislation, then regulatory bodies (such as the Financial Services Authority (FCA) or the Gambling Commission) enforce them, often providing frameworks for companies to help achieve compliance. It is then the responsibility of in-house compliance departments to ensure that an individual business is adhering to legal requirements and industry best practices. This means staying informed of legislation, often having a close relationship with industry regulators as well as key stakeholders across the business.
There are different facets to compliance, and it’s likely you’ll end up specialising within a certain technical area within your industry. For example in financial services you might end up in AML (anti-money laundering), fraud or KYC (know your client). Compliance professionals spend their time on everything from quality assurance and internal monitoring, to employee training, to creating processes that makes it easier for teams to comply with regulations.
Why you should consider a career in compliance?
As a compliance professional in an industry like fintech, gaming or analytics, you may find yourself setting the standards for issues that affect broader society and playing your part in ensuring that these standards are upheld for the benefit for everyone, which can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll become a subject matter expert in your industry, often leading projects across the business which means not only will you get to work on a wide variety of projects with different people, but you’ll likely get significant exposure to senior management.
Compliance professionals are highly sought after and as a result they are well-remunerated. Entry level positions pay up to £35,000, but individuals can double their salary within a couple of years, and at management level salaries can exceed £100,000 depending on the industry. There’s a shortage of good compliance professionals, particularly in certain niches, which means faster progression for those with sought-after skillsets. Furthermore, in comparison to other professional roles, compliance can offer a good work-life balance.
What kind of person would suit working in compliance?
With regulatory environments, technology, and industry dynamics constantly shifting, compliance professionals need to be adaptable, strategic problem solvers with a keen eye for detail. Compliance is often about balancing risks: weighing up various factors to come to a reasoned judgement. Decision made by compliance managers can be immensely important and impactful so it’s important to be able to think clearly and calmly under pressure. Since you’ll be examining and analysing industry issues in a granular level of detail, it also helps to have a genuine interest in the field you work in.
How to get a job in compliance
If you’re intrigued by the above, you may be ready to kick start your career in compliance. Here are the most common career paths to get you there:
01 Transition from a legal firm
Increasingly many senior compliance officers are qualified lawyers with prior knowledge of the regulatory environment and experience working for clients in the sector. By working in-house, lawyers can be more focused in one area, and often achieve a more favourable work life balance.
02 Gain operational industry experience
Candidates who have built up industry knowledge through working in an operational role can make the switch to compliance, as they will likely have had first-hand experience adhering to industry regulations. Often the move is easier made in-house, although companies will hire operational candidates externally with a view to training them up.
03 Get an industry qualification
Training and qualifications can be a great first step to your career in compliance, especially if you have less in the way of practical experience. View iGaming