Building a Career in Compliance: The Transcript

APCC Webinar Transcript

Did you miss our webinar on how to build a successful and rewarding career in compliance?

If so, find below the event’s full audio-recording and transcript.

A special thanks to the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants (APCC) for co-hosting this event with us.

Our panellists were:

– Julie Ampadu, Director, Association of Professional Compliance Consultants (APCC), UK

– Bev Robertson, Chief Operating Officer, Association of Professional Compliance Consultants (APCC), UK

– Samantha Sheen, Founder and Director, Ex Ante Advisory Limited, and Associate Fellow, RUSI, London, UK

– David Symes, Managing Director, Compliance Recruitment Solutions, London, UK

For now, here are some of the event’s main highlights!

Based on your experience, is there a specific educational background that is required or preferred when it comes to developing a career in compliance?

David Symes ComplianceDavid Symes: There is definitely a split here. If you look at, as we say in the UK, the city of London, which is mainly sell-side investment banks, stockbrokers, or buy-side fund managers, they normally expect a degree. They will even look to take graduates on as trainees and American firms will always insist on it because to them it is a graduate profession at any type of role in financial services. Having said that, if you look at the retail sector’s life and pensions, most types of insurance, it is more about the experience, so they do not insist on being a graduate and if you have got some previous work experience in operations, admin, sales, then that counts equally valid. The only problem is that you then move up the company or you try and transfer companies, and you have not got a degree and that becomes an issue. But, for instance, one way around that is to do a master’s level qualification in financial regulation, then no one in HR or board level can say you are not a graduate when you have a master’s, so that will be my answer to that one.

What sort of personality traits and skills are necessary to succeed in the field of compliance?

Julie APCCJulie Ampadu: So my take is that, yes, you can teach knowledge and skills. You cannot teach somebody’s behaviour, so their character and the integrity of the character is absolutely crucial, first of all. Secondly, you need to have in your plan a way or a means of developing your interpersonal skills. You are probably the firm’s biggest external influencer, aside from their legal advisor and their accountant. So we need to be in a position where we can comfortably and with confidence be able to influence boards of firms, senior managers, senior individuals within those firms. We are essentially our clients’ critical friend, we have their back and we are trying to protect them and keep them safe, if you like, from enforcement action. But not only that, we are trying to help them create excellence in their firms. So essentially, we are like the Jiminy Cricket on their shoulder, we are almost like an informal non-executive role. We are the ones who go in and challenge the board and who go in and ask them questions that nobody else will dare to ask them. So we have to be able to do that, as David said, in a way that they are going to find acceptable and believable, because if we create challenge that they are going to listen to, then they are really going to think about why we are asking the question as well and why it is important that they think about the things we are challenging them with.

So, yes, if you are going to do anything now, it would be to develop your interpersonal skills. We have within the training and competence area of compliance in the financial services, we have brilliant training and development in terms of knowledge, whether that’s product knowledge or technical knowledge, regulatory knowledge, whatever it is, but we are extremely poor in our interpersonal skills, our leadership skills, our management skills, our negotiation skills with clients, our report writing, presentation skills, we are incredibly poor. So if you are going to focus on any particular area now, there are all sorts of ways you can develop these areas, then that will be something I think is absolutely crucial for building a career in compliance.

What if I want to work in compliance in another country? What should I be thinking about when developing my compliance career to make this possible?

Sam Sheen ComplianceSam Sheen: First, I would say is, do your research. It is not as easy as you think to move countries. Sometimes your qualifications are not recognized, whereas in other jurisdictions you can easily slip in and they are worth their weight in gold. So do your research first in terms of the country that you are interested in working in, see if you need to take specific exams, or certifications or qualifications, you might need to do top-ups.

That is my next point, which is be ready to invest the time and money. I am sure David would agree with me, gone are the days when you used to get lovely packages and your entire relocation would be paid for, cost of living adjustment and, boy, what a sweet deal that was. There are not a lot of those anymore. It may be the case that you are going to have to invest in relocating there yourself, maybe doing several flights or trips when you are allowed to do that again, to go and see where you would live, see what the industry is like, have some coffee with people before you really launch yourself into that search, join an association that is active in the region or the country, start to get to know what sort of things they talk about, what things that matter in the compliance community, and really do your research to find out have there been recent laws passed that are relevant to the area. So European AML regulations are not the same as American, for example, and they are not the same as Canada, so it is really important you do not walk in and presume that everything is the same.

My last two things are network, network, network. Most of the jobs that I have received started off with networking with people in other countries, people I kept in contact with after I moved to different countries. Your network is really valuable, cultivate it. And last but not least, have your pitch ready. When you are moving to a jurisdiction that is not familiar with you or your career, it is really important you do not force them to hunt through your CV to understand if you match with them or not, and that’s why cover letters are really key, if you are going to work internationally, is to be able to explain what was relevant about your experience that, despite not having a local qualification, makes you the perfect candidate for the job. So really kind of trying to line it up rather than say to them, here, you figure out how I can be valuable to you.

What is the role of an organization such as APCC in promoting compliance as a viable profession for recent graduates?

Bev Robertson: I think between Julie and myself we could talk about this for several hours. So the APCC, it is such a broad church in terms of compliance consultants who are our members. We reach basically every sector of the UK financial services, but education is something that we are very much focused on certainly in 2022, and Julie can talk about, she is currently chairing our newly formed education working group. Now this is not purely aimed at graduates, this is across the board, hence, why at the very beginning, when you were asking about qualifications, my answer was no because we are at the moment doing things like speakers for schools where we are trying to get people who are leaving school to come into compliance as a career. We are also trying to encourage apprenticeships in this at T-levels, which are the new education settings for people to come into compliance. So there are lots of different avenues at the moment, as well as obviously leaving and going into a graduate program, so I think to say that is high on the APCC’s agenda is an understatement but it is very much work in progress. So it is for us, we certainly have not been asked by the regulator to help them address the shortfall in younger people coming into compliance, it is not that great sexy industry in the UK, certainly in London there are so many other career choices, so we have a tough brief to fill, but we are definitely working on that. But for me, I have not been in the industry for 20 years, I think it has been a fantastic career choice, and one that I think anybody coming out of university should really focus on.

Happy reading and listening!

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