Compliance experts or compliance specialists are tasked with ensuring organizations comply with the relevant standards and regulations in heterogeneous sectors, such as healthcare, pharmaceutical, and finance.
The growing complexity of the regulatory landscape has brought compliance to the center stage, with compliance experts playing a pivotal role in organizations seeking to operate within the bounds of the law.
What Do Compliance Experts Do?
Compliance experts are in-house employees who ensure that organizations stay updated on all internal and external regulatory and licensing requirements in line with the internal, state, and federal bylaws.
Compliance experts are responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing policies and standards to avoid legal ramifications and reputational damage. They are also tasked with establishing if the management’s processes, products, and physical sites operate seamlessly within the legal and ethical controls.
Jennifer Scalise, a compliance expert and adjunct professor at Northeastern University, explained, “Compliance departments have evolved into strategic, enterprise-level risk managers. When run effectively, these departments help businesses continuously monitor compliance and proactively identify and mitigate operational risks.”
Compliance Expert Responsibilities
Typically, the responsibilities of a compliance expert fall in the following areas:
- Resolving compliance issues
In case of violations, compliance specialists liaison with third-party auditors to conduct audits or investigations, provide recommendations for improvement, and develop roadmaps for remedial actions.
- Auditing organizational compliance
The role of compliance professionals is crucial for building compliance programs from the ground up or reinforcing an existing strategy to ensure that the organization is running efficient business operations.
- Staying updated on regulatory changes
Compliance experts must stay abreast of the regulatory actions that are appended, removed, or modified. Compliance experts work closely with the management and staff to identify and manage regulatory breaches and implement the appropriate disciplinary measures to avoid a future recurrence.
Compliance Experts and Fintech
Fintech is poised to revolutionize the financial sector globally with modern offerings that include several banking-adjacent services. With Fintech solutions becoming increasingly accessible and faster than traditional financial channels, their disruptive approach creates a shortfall in regulatory compliance, making a compliance expert an indispensable part of Fintech to ensure robust compliance.
The Fintech approach to regulatory compliance can help deliver long-term business benefits and provide faster services than traditional banking channels while ensuring compliance. The key responsibilities of a compliance expert in the emerging Fintech landscape are:
- Delivering regulatory compliance advice on areas of compliance that entail anti-bribery, licensing, and reporting requirements
- Maintaining and updating the compliance obligation information
- Continual monitoring and revision of compliance policies, including corporate governance and anti-money laundering
- Developing, implementing, and executing operational workflows for a regulatory change
- Negotiating with technology providers and collaborating on responses to regulatory information requests
Compliance Expert Degrees
Typically, a bachelor’s degree in business or finance is the minimum primary education for a compliance specialist in a small organization. There is no specific compliance officer degree course offered.
Additionally, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, finance, or business, along with multiple accounting courses in compliance, is recommended.
What do compliance officers study?
Following are the vital educational requirements for a compliance officer:
- A bachelor’s degree major in business, finance, or a related field
- Certified Risk and Compliance Management Professional (CRCMP) preferred
- A minimum of 2 years of experience in the field of compliance
- Knowledge of regulatory laws, legal codes, procedures, and other standards
- Prior experience in law, ethics, organizational business, finance, or statistical analysis
- Certification is strongly desired and, in most cases, a prerequisite
What are the online compliance expert degree options?
Students interested in pursuing higher degrees with previous knowledge in Economics and Finance can explore the following distance learning options:
- Master’s in legal studies programs that are self-paced and focus on learning compliance at your convenience
- Master’s in compliance programs
- Online M.S./Financial Compliance and Risk Management from Albany that offers the highest quality of learning and is designed to advance the career of working professionals
- Master’s in Risk Management Compliance Specialty: Fraud and Money Laundering from EALDE Business School is an online program that offers a cross-sectional view of the concepts of Risk Management from the standpoint of regulatory compliance
Additionally, the Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional Program (CCEP) through the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) requires participation in an intensive prerequisite course and successful passing exam.
Compliance Expert Experience
A position as a compliance officer or expert is not an entry-level position. A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement, but employers may necessitate advanced law degrees or a master’s in business administration (MBA) to qualify for higher-level positions.
Skills Required to Become a Compliance Officer
The following skills required for a compliance officer are highly transferable across roles, industries, and jurisdictions:
- Strong ethical standards and reliability for demonstrating commitment and unity in line with the organization’s regulations and procedures
- In-depth knowledge of implementing and regulating organizations so that they comply with the law and tactical relationships with the business, employees, and managers
- Industry expertise in the area of work with adequate knowledge of regulations for rule enforcement and other pertinent changes to regulations
- Interviewing, analytical, and auditing skills with strong attention to detail and a blend of analytical and interpersonal skills.
- Capability to recognize actions that may result in liability
Corporate Compliance Career Paths
Graduate trainee programs have now started to include compliance in their training schedule. However, entry-level positions, such as analysts, are also open in most compliance monitoring departments. A typical path would be to start as a team leader or manager or senior/function manager and then move on to the executive and director roles.
With the archaic regulations and laws in constant flux, regulation is here to stay as an overriding trend. As a result, the need for compliance expertise has never been more substantial and comes with a host of career opportunities that can start from entry-level and go up to the board.
Salary Information for Compliance Experts by Degree Level
The following salary information has been compiled based on the experience levels. Statistics show that a lower-income earner in a compliance officer position is more likely to have minimal past work experience.
A higher income is attributed to employees with substantial tenure or advanced degrees in business, accounting, law, or finance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- An entry-level career compliance specialist with one to four years of experience earns an average total compensation of $55,663 based on 1,157 salaries
- A mid-career compliance specialist with five to nine years of experience earns an average total compensation of $61,762 based on 660 salaries
- An experienced compliance specialist with 10 to 19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $66,920 based on 458 salaries
- A highly experienced compliance specialist with 20 years and higher experience earns an average total compensation of $69,539
Larger organizations are more likely to provide additional benefits to employees, increasing the total compensation package.
When Joseph Agins, CCEP, CFE, Institutional Compliance Officer at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, was asked about the most significant changes he has observed in compliance in higher education, he said that he saw a paradigm shift in how institutions are starting to realize the true value proposition of a good compliance program.
For a compliance expert, regular day-to-day activities typically involve working with the organization to identify its current compliance profile, gaps, and challenges and providing recommendations for improvement. Their role is more akin to a problem solver and often entails partnering with experts to develop workable solutions to complex compliance issues.
In recent years, the demand for competent compliance professionals has surpassed the supply, with increased opportunities across various industries. The evolution in regulatory trends and policies has boosted the demand for compliance professionals who are conversant with the latest industry certifications as they are developed.
As the demand for compliance officers continues to grow, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Business leaders are increasingly seeking to comply with regulatory guidelines for data privacy and security as an operational precedent.
With emerging technologies, regulations are also likely to evolve, and the demand for compliance specialists will continue to expand.
Though the competition seems intense, in terms of proficiency sought in accounting laws and regulations, recognizing and managing regulatory risks, and collaborating across departments, the job prospects for compliance experts seem promising in the current industry dynamic.