According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, compliance is "an act or process of complying with a demand or recommendation; observance of official requirements". The principal responsibilities of a compliance manager are the development, implementation and administration of procedures required for an organisation to observe regulations governing its operation.
Compliance managers are required in the financial services sector wherein the level of regulation is high. Compliance is ultimately a concession to an external regulatory authority, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and can involve everything from preventing money laundering to managing risk more effectively.
As an expert in the subject area, a compliance manager is expected to promote compliance practice within the organisation, offering detailed regulatory advice on what can be highly complex issues to senior managers and others. It may be necessary for a compliance manager to design and deliver training courses and coach other staff in the delivery of compliance services. He or she must also help an organisation to assess the impact, in regulatory terms, of any change to operating procedure. This involves the implementation of adequate controls, so that an organisation is exposed to as little regulatory risk as possible.
A compliance manager must proactively identify and manage risk; he or she cannot assume that compliance issues do not exist simply because nothing has gone wrong yet. A compliance manager usually conducts regular internal audits of processes, procedures and activities within an organisation. This involves examining records, collecting and collating evidence of occurrences of non-compliance and proposing solutions to problems if and when they are identified. Depending on the exact nature of the organisation in which he or she is employed, a compliance manager may also be required to liaise with clients and business partners, in so doing adding value to client management throughout the various processes of the business.
Skills & Qualifications
A compliance manager will typically be required to be educated to degree level in a business-related subject and hold a recognised qualification in accountancy or auditing. There are five principal accounting bodies, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ACA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (CA), which collectively from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy (CCAB), offering such qualifications. The ACCA qualification, for example, involves at total of 14 written examination papers, plus 3 years' supervised work experience, including an element of internal auditing. Outside the CCAB, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and the Institute of Internal Auditors UK and Ireland (IIA) also offer recognised qualifications.
Whatever the case, a compliance manager will also need to demonstrate substantial experience of managing compliance activities in a corporate environment, while advanced knowledge of financial applications software and other common software may be useful. Indeed, the industry as a whole is demanding more of compliance managers than was once the case and additional skills may be required above and beyond those required to mitigate compliance risk in the organisation and its subsidiaries.