- What do you do in compliance?
- Compliance career path
- Compliance salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Compliance skills
- Pros and cons of being in compliance
- Compliance work-life balance
- Typical employers hiring in compliance
- Related jobs
Are you interested in working in compliance? Explore the financial services sector jobs available to you right now.
What do you do in compliance?
In compliance, you’re responsible for making sure a firm’s actions fit with the organisation’s policies, are within external regulations and don’t break any laws. You typically work for a compliance consulting firm and go into organisations as a representative of an outside body to act as an independent advisor and judge. There are areas of compliance that you could specialise in, for example money laundering, fraud, crime prevention and cyber security. Here are the responsibilities associated with compliance:
- Meet with clients to know what they need from your compliance service
- Monitor a client or company’s activities to make sure they are legal and within policies and regulations
- Train staff to make sure their activities fit within regulations, laws and policies
- Write reports and present on your findings and suggestions
If you want to improve your communication and presentation skills, complete this module on developing effective presentation skills.
Compliance career path
Working in compliance gives you the opportunity to work with many companies but also to work up within a company. If you enjoy the analytical side but don’t want to work with policies, you can switch to an actuary role. If you like working with policies and looking into the type of work a client is doing but not the financial side, you can switch the management consultancy. If you like the idea of a compliance role, here is the traditional compliance career path:
You could begin your career as a compliance assistant or compliance administrator. These jobs are intended to teach you the skills that you need for more senior roles. Your tasks are similar to more senior roles, including making sure that the client or company you’re working for are working within regulations and don’t flout any rules. Your work is checked off by a senior colleague to make sure it’s correct and you’re not missing any important information.
With experience, you move up to a compliance officer role. You’re given more freedom to work with clients, dealing with their issues and making sure their activities aren’t illicit.
A compliance manager is more managerial than a compliance officer. Whilst you may still have the opportunity to work with clients and manage their compliance and presenting to senior teams about their activities, you also work around your team. This may include supervising junior colleagues and training them when they start working with the firm.
You may decide to specialise rather than move upwards in a company, for example in a role like fraud investigator. This involves looking for evidence or suggestions of fraud in a client’s accounts and reporting to senior management teams if you detect any.
Compliance jobs have good opportunities within a firm and can earn you lots of money. The salary you earn depends on the level you’re working at, the type of organisation you work for and the location of the organisation. Here are the salaries that you could earn when working in compliance:
- In an entry-level position like compliance assistant and compliance administrator, you earn between £20,000 and £40,000 per year
- As a compliance officer you earn between £30,000 and £60,000 per year
- As a compliance manager, you earn between £50,000 and £70,000 per year
Qualifications and training
Having the right qualifications and training helps get into the compliance career path. Here is the education that you need to work in compliance:
Many people working in compliance have undergraduate level degrees. Having a degree in finance or a finance-based subject is beneficial for a compliance role because it teaches you the background knowledge that you need. You also gain an understanding of how finance in business works which you can use to determine what is nonstandard in a client’s accounts. You have the option of doing a finance or maths undergraduate degree and then a more specialised compliance master’s degree. This teaches you more specific information about the work in the sector and how to do the job well. You can explore all of these degree options using this UCAS course search tool.
An alternative to working towards a degree is an apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, you learn about the job by doing the job. You’re taught by current employees working in the field. This not only gives you up to date information about advancements and best practices in the field, you also gain the ideal skills that you need to do the job. You can also make connections in the field and possibly secure a permanent job for when your apprenticeship is finished. If you’re interested in compliance apprenticeships, you can explore the available apprenticeships right now through this government apprenticeship search tool.
Having some work experience alongside your education is a great way to impress a hiring manager. You gain relevant skills that you need to do the job when your education is finished and learn how to work well in the environment. If you’re interested in getting a compliance internship, you can explore the finance services sector internships available right now and complete this module on converting an internship into a permanent job.
Whilst you can work in compliance with just a degree or an apprenticeship, having professional qualifications helps you succeed in the sector. The International Compliance Association (ICA) offers a number of courses for people working in compliance. You can learn about them with ICA’s course search tool. Most of these courses are intended for professionals wanting to expand their skill set and earn some professional standing. If you’re a graduate or working in an entry-level position, these courses might not be appropriate for you at this stage in your career. Read the description carefully to make sure it’s right for you and contact the administrator if you’re in any doubt.
Combining your education with your great skill set ideally positions you to wow any hiring manager. Here are the skills that you need for a career in compliance:
- Analytical skills. You need to analyse lots of data to find any irregularities or indications of illicit behavior. This means having great analytical skills so you can find the meaning behind the numbers. Need to brush up on your analytical and problem solving skills? Take this module on creative problem-solving.
- Read between the lines. In this role, you interpret policies, regulations and laws then determine whether anything your client’s doing could break any of these rules. This requires you to think critically and creatively to see if a solicitor could find any reasons why your client is breaking a rule.
- Communication. You need to effectively communicate your findings to your client so they know if they’ve done anything wrong and what they can do to prevent any issues in the future. This means having good communication skills, both written and verbal, so there is no misunderstanding.
If you want to improve your communication and presentation skills, take this module on developing effective presentation skills.
Pros and cons of being in compliance
Any role in compliance will have positive and negative aspects. Knowing about the good and bad parts helps you learn if it’s the right career path for you in the long term. Here are the pros and cons of a career in compliance:
- You have the opportunity to earn a lot of money in the career path
- You can maintain a good work-life balance in the role
- When working as a consultant, you work with many different companies on lots of projects which keeps your working life interesting
- If you work with different clients, you have the opportunity to travel to their office which can break up a working week
- If you miss the signs of illicit activity, you might be held responsible
- Staying up to date on the policy, regulation and law changes can be difficult when you’re working full time
- The daily work in compliance involves analysing data which can get monotonous
- Your client’s employees might not appreciate the work you’re doing, thinking they’re being unfairly watched which may make them less willing to work with you
Compliance work-life balance
When working in compliance, you typically work standard office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. This may increase around deadlines but generally speaking you’re able to maintain a good balance between work and your home life. One problem with this could be when you have to travel to a client’s office which adds a commute and might make your working week longer.
Your job involves seeing a project through from start to finish which can be satisfying. However, the daily analysis that you do can be monotonous and make work boring. You may also have to deal with your client’s employees not enjoying your work because they may feel observed and stressed even when they haven’t done anything wrong. This can create a negative working environment that you have to deal with for the extent of the contract.
Typical employers hiring in compliance
When working in compliance, you’re typically employed by a consulting firm. Knowing the type of employers means you can conduct your own research into them and know where to target your job applications when you’re ready to apply. Here are the typical compliance employers:
- Financial risk
- Financial advisor
- Internal auditor
- External auditor