Keeping an eye on regulations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am

A compliance manager's job is supposed to be boring if it is done well. This is because the alternative - poor compliance - means a company can be sued by customers for negligence or fined by regulators, while the executives may be jailed for criminal offences. In the worst-case scenario, corporate failure results in massive layoffs, leaving creditors and shareholders out of pocket.

'They are the first and only line of defence in ensuring that a company abides by rules and regulations in the markets in which it does business,' says Mark Moorby, consultant for banking and financial services in Hong Kong for recruitment firm Ambition.

Compliance managers are required to be intimately familiar with rules and regulations drafted in everything from a company's labour policies and use of financial instruments to its carbon footprint, or whether dolphins and baby seals are harmed over the course of its business.

They advise senior executives on a range of issues including legal and compliance hurdles in new markets, and make sure business transactions comply with the laws of the country in which the firm is based and also where the investment will go.

Sometimes compliance managers are called upon to interface with regulators to provide updates on business transactions and conduct internal corporate investigations if fraud is suspected. They also provide training and development for other employees.

Many career compliance professionals hail from legal or audit backgrounds, while some have regulatory or law enforcement experience. Junior compliance professionals focus on roles that check whether rules are being followed to the letter. As they gain experience, they will move into a more advisory role for senior management.

Degree in law or finance is key to career

Most compliance professionals have either a background in law or finance, with a university degree in either field.

Those in the financial services sector can aim to be a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist focusing on money laundering risks and methods, important aspects of corporate anti-money laundering programmes and industry standards set by bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force and the Basel Committee.

Certified Fraud Examiners are trained to identify warning signs and risks of fraud. To qualify, candidates must pass a test on fraud prevention and deterrence, fraudulent financial transactions, how investigations should be conducted and the legal elements of fraud.

Attention to detail

Being detail-oriented is an essential skill for a compliance manager. Do you pay attention to small things? Here are some questions that may help you decide:

Have you lost your car or door keys, or forgotten where you put them at least once in the past two weeks?

For those of you who wear glasses. In the past week or so, have you wondered where you left your glasses when you woke up or after taking a shower?

Do you go through your telephone bill item by item?

Do you review each and every bank charge in your bank statement?

Do you remember the birthdays of all your family members?