Pursuing a career in Compliance: What are Employers looking for?

We can say that the purpose of compliance is to satisfy the requirement of regulatory bodies with respect to legislation and regulation passed down. Compliance is required in every business and while the concept can be reasonably and easily understood the myriad of regulations to comply with and the career opportunities that come out of this is a little more complicated.

Recent events in the financial markets have transformed the way financial services institutions operate, and the role of compliance is being elevated. At the same time, business decisions are subject to greater scrutiny as pressure to reduce expenses continues to mount.

For compliance professionals, success is no longer achieved solely by interpreting regulations and providing guidance. What’s more the nature of the roles can change significantly by industry. Today, success requires balancing core responsibilities, adapting to a shifting business environment and serving as change agent, risk manager and voice of leadership.

In light of this it is worth taking a look at the Financial Services Industry and what they are looking for from their compliance people.


Compliance Qualifications and the ACOI

A broad range of compliance qualifications are provided by the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland. The ACOI is a non-profit organisation with charitable status whose primary purpose is to educate compliance professionals and promote the role of compliance in the performance of prudent business. Working closely with the Institute of Banking in Ireland (UCD), key courses valued by employers are offered at Level 7, 8 and 9 across the National Qualification Framework.

Such courses include the National Certificate in Compliance (LCOI, level 7) and the MSc in Compliance (FCOI, Level 9). The LCOI certificate is the most commonly pursued entry point with the ACOI for compliance professionals, taking two years to complete four modules. This permits the holder, under Central Bank rules, to adjudicate on complaints relating to broad ranges of Financial Services products. It’s also the most commonly sought-after qualification by compliance employers in the country.

That is not to say that it is the only route of value, the ACOI offer a range of courses and training in conjunction with Industry representative bodies. One such partnership is with our neighbours here on Pearse Street, The Institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland, who have developed and run a range of Industry specific courses across the Risk, Compliance and Regulatory space. The Credit Union Compliance Certificate, also Level 7 NFQ, for Full/Part time and volunteers in the Credit Union sector can be sat at The National College of Ireland.


Making a career change into Compliance

For those not already in the compliance space looking to pivot their careers, employer’s also value graduates of Law, Economics and Finance depending on the area of specialisation. And with demand outstripping supply employers are increasingly willing to support new hires who are prepared to pursue their compliance qualification part time.

Employers will often consider applicants from different or related professions to fill their compliance positions. Those with a legal background are well positioned to take up compliance positions where there are regulatory responsibilities such as policy development and Advisory services. With regard to Compliance and Risk roles often numerically strong candidates from Accountancy or Economics backgrounds are well positioned to make such a move. Coming from a Financial Services operational background can be beneficial in the Funds space where the vast compliance responsibilities require strong leaders to manage compliance teams in areas such as Regulatory Services and Anti Money laundering.

Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list on what makes a good compliance professional. But the growing importance, seniority and variety in the roles available means increasingly people are building successful careers in the space. As a career opportunity compliance offers the scope to learn about conduct of business and how this is impacted by external factors such as economic risk and Financial regulation. While the FCOI and LCOI qualifications are valued by employers there are many other educational backgrounds that facilitate a career in this space.

If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities that are available in the Risk and Compliance space call Michael Gorman on (01) 6994524 for a confidential chat or email your CV to [email protected]