How to gain Influence in your Compliance Career

Michael Gorman

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Compliance is growing in importance within Financial Services for many reasons, not least due to increased regulation but also due to public perception (ethical behaviour and transparent practice) as well as the increased scrutiny on Business Partnering and third-party providers.

In broad terms, good Compliance ensures complicity with Regulation in both it’s written word and in the spirit within which those words were written. Consequently, Compliance plays a pivotal role that extends beyond a license to operate and deep into company strategy and culture. It’s not surprising therefore that Influential Compliance professionals often follow successful career paths.

Whatever stage you’re at in your career it’s worthwhile pursuing an increasingly influential role within Compliance in your organisation. As well as looking at personal behaviours I’d suggest seeking out future employers who can provide the platform to influence the organisation. You’ll want to be part of a compliance team that demonstrably impact the broader business.

Beyond positioning within the right company let’s now take a look at the other choices and behaviours I’ve observed in influential Compliance professionals I’ve worked with.

How can you position yourself?

Presentation – Your CV will say a lot from the outset, not just to the people around you but also to yourself. If you’ve achieved relevant and respected qualifications such as those by the ACOI then it will give you the self-confidence and expertise to step up into an authoritative role in the function.

You can also point to this when making the case to peers and direct reports for increased influence. This could be in the form of more senior responsibility or increased influence over a project.

Assertiveness – It’s important to air your view and not just because your role carries that responsibility. You’re also the authority in your space and for your title to ring true in colleagues ears you must live it through your work and ownership of your projects.

My thoughts on this is to remember that ideas are a dime a dozen, but action and follow-through are often in short supply. This doesn’t mean that you need to block the influence of other interested partners, in fact, collaboration is a great way to gain further buy into the compliance program. I simply mean to not let others participation mean that you will take a back seat.

Strong Communication skills – It’s easy to advise that you should use strong communication skills when these do not necessarily come easy to everyone. But I would try to impress on you that communication is a learned skill and it’s something we can all improve.

You’d be amazed how quickly your communication, presentation and leadership skills develop through deliberate practice and training. I witness this through my association to Toastmasters* not least within myself (I’m certainly no superstar here, but I have observed significant progress in myself since joining). Having not spoken publicly for years I needed to recognise the importance of effective communication in multiple facets of my life and not just professionally.

Recently I’ve presented to multiple specialised stakeholders, competed at regional level public speaking and the most terrifying of all…. Gave a speech at my wedding in front of the Father in Law and extended family.

What’s the proposition here?

What I’m proposing here is that you should use what we like to call “The Helicopter View” of your Compliance career. If you want to make strides in your career and increase your influence, then you should take a step back from the day to day to evaluate the actions you are taking to make this happen.

Invariably the people I meet who are progressing are the ones who’ve taken that strategic view on their career. They’ve committed to making conscious changes to their day to day activity as well as the longer-term personal development and educational plans.

*Quick Toastmasters plug, I’ve found it a game changer and would recommend it to anyone interested in developing their communication and leadership skills. There are clubs all over Ireland which can be found here www.toastmasters.org or feel free to call me if you’d like to discuss our club IFSC Toastmasters.

Michael Gorman

The Compliance Recruiter

01 699 4524