What is a Compliance Officer?
Compliance Officers, also known as Compliance Managers, are in charge of ensuring that their organisation’s and business processes adhere to government regulations. Their responsibilities range from conducting risk assessments to advising management.
Compliance Officers serve as a liaison between specialised departments and management. They manage the flow of information between management and specialist areas while adhering to various responsibilities and confidentiality obligations.
To avoid conflicts of interest, the Compliance Officer position should not be located within the legal department or report directly to it. Compliance Officers ensure that the company complies with the law while also running smoothly. The position should ideally be located directly under the board of directors, ensuring independence as well as a direct reporting line to senior management. This guarantees that unfiltered reports reach management.
Compliance Officers, who are most commonly found in healthcare and banking, are an important component of corporate governance, determining how an organisation is managed, directed, and governed, including stakeholder relationships and the structure by which company objectives are set and followed. Typically, they report to the CEO or COO.
According to the International Compliance Association, there are two levels of responsibility for a Compliance Officer:
- Level 1: adherence to external rules imposed on an organisation as a whole.
- Level 2: adherence to internal control systems imposed to ensure adherence to externally imposed rules.
One aspect of a Compliance Officer’s job is to communicate compliance-related issues to employees across all organisational divisions. This sometimes necessitates deciphering perplexing or abstract laws or ethics, as well as determining how to establish and integrate best practices. A Compliance Officer must therefore have excellent people skills, be able to communicate and collaborate up, down, and across the employee chain, and have a solid understanding of the business.
Specific responsibilities for a Compliance Officer will vary according to the company and area of its expertise, but will include the following:
- Creating sound internal controls and monitoring adherence to them
- Drafting and reviewing company policies
- Proactively auditing processes, practices, and documents to identify weaknesses
- Developing plans to manage a crisis or compliance violation
- Evaluating business activities (e.g., investments) to assess compliance risk
- When necessary, collaborating with external auditors and HR
- Educating and training employees on regulations and industry practices
- Responding to employee concerns or questions about legal compliance
- Staying up to date on internal standards and business goals
The average starting UK salary for a Compliance Officer who is new to the role is £70,500. A mid-level salary of £78,250 can be expected with more experience. A Compliance Officer's higher-level pay scale is £95,750, which is reserved for more experienced professionals with deeper knowledge.
Regionally, the East of England (£77,468), Scotland (£77,468), and London (£89,988) have the highest average salaries. Because of the city’s large financial services sector, Compliance Officer salaries in London are significantly higher.
Salaries for positions covered by the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) have risen significantly due to the high level of responsibility. Earning potential can be increased by working in an SMCR-related position (SMF16 or SMF17).
Many professionals can expect to receive competitive performance-related bonuses as part of their remuneration package due to the importance of compliance roles and the risk involved.
Some employers hire on a day-rate basis, paying by the day rather than by the hour. Paid overtime is uncommon in many professional roles.
Working hours and work location
Compliance Officers usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. On rare occasions, such as when a significant regulatory change is implemented, longer hours are required. Part-time and job-sharing options may be available.
Compliance Officers are typically office-based, though they may be required to consult with colleagues or attend meetings at locations throughout the UK. Travelling abroad is possible for those working for multinational corporations.
Some of the industries that employ Compliance Officers include:
- Financial institutions
- Environmental organisations
- Insurance companies
- Charity/non profit organisations
- Technology companies
- Healthcare/pharmaceutical organisations
- Real estate companies
- Gaming industry
- Retail companies
What to expect
A Compliance Officer serves as an advisor because they communicate directly with management and participate in business decisions. In contrast to an external consultant, a Compliance Officer actively participates in shaping these business decisions and seeks solutions to achieve business objectives while adhering to all laws and regulations.
When a company is new to compliance, a Compliance Officer will begin by establishing a compliance management system, a whistleblowing hotline, and an approval manager to ensure that gifts and hospitality are properly registered and processed. If the company already has a compliance management system in place, they will take over its supervision and organisation. In either case, it is the responsibility of a Compliance Officer to assess and identify potential risks within the organisation, develop proposals for dealing with and avoiding compliance risks, optimise existing processes and procedures, and, if necessary, strengthen their department with additional resources and staff.
A Compliance Officer performs the following duties:
- Uses a compliance management system to monitor all operational processes and procedures to ensure that the company complies with all legal regulations and ethical standards.
- Manages the flow of information by researching, recording, and analysing data and information. They keep the business running smoothly by ensuring a steady flow of information and conducting compliance risk assessments.
- Trains and educates employees to keep them up to date on any legal changes and updates to compliance guidelines.
- Serves as a point of contact and liaison between department heads and senior management
- Conducts regular assessments to determine whether policies are legally compliant.
Qualifications are becoming more important as compliance becomes more important and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) becomes more involved.
There are numerous courses available, but those provided by the International Compliance Association (ICA) are highly regarded by employers.
Employers value law degrees as well as accounting degrees. Keep in mind that compliance is a broad field, and different functions within compliance will require different backgrounds.
Some of the skills that you will need to acquire or possess in order to become a successful Compliance Officer include:
must have skills:
- Experience as a Compliance Officer
- Awareness of industry practices and professional standards
- Integrity and professional ethics
- Risk management experience
- Ability to rapidly interpret and analyse information
- Interpersonal skills
- Management skills
- Knowledge of legal requirements and controls (e.g. Anti-Money Laundering)
- Exceptional communication abilities
There are some dedicated graduate schemes available for Compliance Officers, particularly in financial services. Graduate risk management roles may include compliance work, and many rotational graduate schemes in banks will include a compliance placement.
However, many graduates enter the compliance profession after gaining experience that allows them to develop the necessary skills. Job roles like Administration Executive, Paralegal, Financial Analyst or Customer Service may assist you in gaining the necessary experience to enter the world of compliance-related positions.
Aside from regulatory knowledge, professionals can make a concerted effort to become acquainted with the most recent monitoring systems and tools for compliance, KYC, AML, and Market Abuse. Although opportunities for this role are generally good, professionals can boost their demand by applying for compliance manager jobs in London, Bristol, or Birmingham, where demand is highest.
It is unusual to begin a career as a Compliance Officer. Compliance Officers must thoroughly understand their company and its market environment in order to do their job effectively, so they typically begin by gaining experience in another company position before transitioning to a role in compliance management. Compliance Officers, for example, are frequently hired from the company's legal department and then promoted to compliance.
The role of compliance is rapidly evolving, creating new and expanding opportunities in a variety of industries. As a compliance professional, you can advance quickly, with many junior compliance officers promoted to senior officers within two to four years.
If you choose to work in a large corporate organisation, your career path will most likely be linear, with you progressing from analyst to associate vice president to vice president. Smaller businesses may use more familiar terms such as manager and senior manager. Many compliance professionals advance not only to more senior positions but also to other related fields. For example, from compliance, you can frequently advance to auditing, cybersecurity, or risk consulting.
When it comes to compliance, there are still a lot of job opportunities in temporary or contract positions—employers usually bring in more compliance roles to help with the implementation of new regulations or reporting standards. Compliance professionals with specialised knowledge can find contracts as they advise businesses on best practices in compliance.
The University of the West of Scotland London offers this two years and eight months full-time degree, and students can choose from a variety of start dates. Students at UWS London get access to industry experts, guest lecturers, and seasoned professionals throughout their studies. Students may participate in the UK’s economic hub thanks to the fact that this programme is provided on the London Campus, in the country’s capital.
This is a full-time program provided at the University of the West of Scotland’s London Campus, in the heart of the UK’s economic core. Students interested in a career in Compliance will benefit from the one-year program, as it will prepare them for work in public and third-sector organisations. This class combines social science and communication.
A one-year foundation degree from the University of the West of Scotland in London will get you ready for undergraduate coursework and build the platform for a career in compliance. You will learn about contemporary research sources in this course, along with useful case examples. The students’ English language and study abilities will also get a boost as they gain knowledge of crucial business courses. You will be well-prepared to enter the undergraduate level with confidence after completing the Business Foundation Programme and gaining the necessary knowledge.
This one-year full-time program delivered by the University of the West of Scotland will provide you with the executive training you need to get your Compliance Officer career off the ground. The London Campus is positioned in the heart of London’s financial district, giving you a unique perspective on UK business.
The University of the West of Scotland teaches this program at their London Campus, so you’ll be studying at the heart of the UK’s industry. This one-year, full-time curriculum is for students who have no prior expertise with computers or information technology. The course will help you learn much-needed IT expertise to help you prepare for a job as a Compliance Officer.