What Does A Career In Compliance Look Like?


If you’ve come across the word compliance, matters such as rules, standards, and regulations may jump into your mind shortly afterward. While compliance revolves around standards and obeying rules, it also relies on ethics. The compliance industry has expanded over the years to cover finance, environmental management, health, telecommunication, information systems, among others. Thanks to compliance, ethics and standards in the performance of services and the sale of goods are maintained to satisfy consumers and businesses. If you’re thinking of becoming a compliance officer, this article sheds light on various applications of compliance. 

What Is The Job Description? 

Being compliant means obeying specific rules, standards and practices concerning an industry. While compliance professionals work in a broad range of industries, their primary role revolves around ensuring that businesses follow external and internal rules. 

In the performance of your role, you’ll be expected to:

  • Analyse a company and identify the risks it faces and advise the business on risks and possible controls
  • Design internal controls to help the company become compliant and manage risks 
  • Monitor the internal controls for effectiveness when risks occur
  • Find ways to resolve compliance risks when they occur 

To help the company remain compliant, you need to understand your industry’s relevant regulations and know all required ethical standards. To execute your duties well, you also need to understand a company’s values and ensure that all controls help the company maintain its values. You can then advise the company on ensuring that all business is conducted legally and ethically to avoid lawsuits, penalties, or business loss. 

What Is An Example of a Business Standard? 

While standards and regulations vary greatly, some may come from a common body. For instance, the International Organization for Standardization or ISO is a body that creates standards and rules for quality in businesses worldwide. 

Since its establishment in 1947, ISO has created more than 22000 requirements for quality assurance. You’ve most likely interacted with ISO standards in your day to day activities or come across products that state that they’re ISO certified. The standards apply to numerous businesses across different industries. 

For example, ISO/IEC 27001 sets standards and guidelines for information security management. It shares tips to help organizations identify, evaluate, and address information risks. By applying this standard, businesses can improve the security of intellectual property, personally identifiable information, financial information, and any information from third parties. 

As the compliance officer, following the directions of ISO/IEC 27001 helps you protect your organization from cyberattacks, surveillance, exposure through employee negligence, or system failure. What’s more, since most businesses now operate digitally, you can work as a compliance officer in manufacturing, food, biotech, law, health, finance, or IT. Whatever industry you might be in, understanding information security risks will be your concern. 

What Does An Entry Level Role in Compliance Look Like? 

Whether you’re new to an industry or venturing into a different career path, you’ll likely start practising compliance at an entry-level role. If you work in finance, you may cross-check customer names to ensure that a bank isn’t accepting money from criminals and check customer activity to ensure that they’re not fraudulent. 

You may also track money moving in and out of the country to ensure that it’s not being laundered, coming from illegal activity, or being used to fund illegal activity. Your role may also require you to provide information on account activity for a customer being investigated by the police. All these roles, even without the compliance badge, fall under compliance.

Fortunately, all businesses have induction programs to ensure that you understand your role and report to a supervisor. You’ll receive adequate guidance to ensure that you perform your duties properly and learn from each experience.  

What Does a High Role in Compliance Look Like? 

As you move up the corporate ladder, your role may include supervising and managing subordinate compliance officers and providing direction. You’ll also plan compliance activities and advise the organization’s leadership about compliance risks and possible controls. 

When a risk occurs, you’ll also need to report on each control’s performance and explain where the company stands. You may also participate in audit activities and the creation of internal legislation. 

What Are The Required Skills and Qualifications? 

To succeed in compliance, you need to be analytical, investigative and ethical. You also need to understand laws and standards and learn to cope with pressure should an incident occur. To perform your compliance duties effectively, ensure you understand how your industry works. For example, if you want to become a financial compliance officer, it helps to understand finance, law and business. 

What Is The Expected Salary For a Compliance Professional? 

According to BLS 2019 statistics, the average compliance officer earns $38,920 to $109,950 annually. The hourly pay rate can vary between $18.71 to $52.86. The income increases with tenure and skill set. If you have more skills, experience and knowledge in an industry, you’ll likely earn more.


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