The last few years have seen the banking sector under media and governmental scrutiny like never before. In the wake of numerous scandals such as with mis-sold PPI, and the banks’ actions during the financial crisis the last several years, there has been increased transparency, regulation and scrutiny imposed upon the activities of the banking sector. Due diligence and compliance have suddenly become very important. There is more importance added to checking banking transactions and business dealings to ensure that they are in line with regulations, and ensuring that everything is done correctly.
In such an era, compliance and related are specialist career fields with stable prospects. Working as part of a small, specialist, dynamic and close knit team in ensuring that the bank’s actions are carried out in a prescribed manner, and staying informed of changes to rules and procedures can be very attractive to the right high calibre individual.
In compliance, you will be checking and keeping up to date with current legislation and regulations, and advising both the financial institution and clients. Additionally, compliance professionals ensure that all financial transactions and deals are done according to rules, both internal bank rules, and regulations imposed by watchdogs such as the Financial Conduct Authority.
In this specialist career field, legal knowledge an be very useful. Not only does it give analytical and problem solving skills that are necessary for the role, but it also gives knowledge and insight to be able to advise the bank and clients, and to ensure that everything is done correctly, and in line with regulations. In law, it is important to keep up to date with legislation and court judgements, and changes in legal practice and theory. It is the same in compliance; especially today, there are a lot of regulations and legislation that are or will be changed and updated. There are also a range of agencies (FCA, FPA, and the SFO, to name but a few), in the UK and in the EU who are involved in scrutinising and overseeing bank activities, to ensure that the excesses of the industry of previous years are not repeated.
Another aspect of a compliance role is risk. Assessing the regulatory and reputation risk of financial deals and transactions is down to a compliance specialist to minimise the financial institutions’ exposure to such risk. Such a role is ideal for someone with a legal background, as law similarly involves minimising legal risk to both clients and company.
Compliance involves supporting and advising both the bank and clients. Often, such advise is given to senior management, so good presentation skills and a confident approach is necessary Most- but by no means all- compliance entry level roles are open to graduates, of any discipline. Obviously, a work or education background in finance, accounting law or related will be very beneficial.
Compliance is a very specialised role, and often can be industry specific depending on the financial institution’s clients. Compliance professionals often have to work closely with industry, and the relevant industry regulators, to ensure that everything is carried out with transparency and in accordance with regulations.
Reviewing terms and conditions and contracts, advising on advertising and similar, ensuring you are up to date with financial legislation and similar are but part of a compliance job description. Overseeing and checking accounts, and ensuring that taxes are filed correctly are also important parts of a compliance department
Compliance is a challenging and fast paced role, constantly changing. It is also seeing an increase due to increasing scrutiny. It is a very complex but very rewarding area to work in. Recruitment companies such as Randstad Financial & Professional inform, guide and assist candidates into this exciting field, see RandstadFP.com.
Due to the skills and specialist knowledge required, and mindset necessary, it is an ideal non- legal alternative career for a law graduate. The law graduate can use their legal knowledge and skills to good effect in a banking and corporate environment.