The Job of a Bank Compliance Officer

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The future looks bright for those in bank compliance jobs. A survey released by the AITE Group on August 13, 2007, titled "Retail Banking Compliance Survey: A Reality Check," forecasts a rise in compliance issues in the coming years. The survey, which is based on the responses of 16 heads of retail banking compliance from the top 150 banks ranked by assets, reports that 82% of compliance directors predict a rise in compliance demands over the next three years, while the remaining 18% think that demands will remain the same. None foresaw a reduction in bank compliance jobs anywhere in the near future.

Top Bosses Are Recognizing the Importance of Compliance

A report released in April 2005 by BASIL (Bank for International Settlements), titled "Compliance and the Compliance Function in Banks," contained the following statement in its introductory chapter:
  • Compliance starts at the top. It will be most effective in a corporate culture that emphasizes standards of honesty and integrity and in which the board of directors and senior management lead by example. It concerns everyone within the bank and should be viewed as an integral part of the bank's business activities...Failure to consider the impact of its actions on its shareholders, customers, employees, and the markets may result in significant adverse publicity and reputational damage, even if no law has been broken.

If the AITE Group report is anything to go by, it seems more and more banks are waking up and recognizing the importance of compliance functions.

The Typical Profile of a Bank Compliance Job

The compliance function is usually split into teams handling specific responsibilities. In the financial sector, these specialized compliance functions include addressing money-laundering regulations, developing compliance policies and procedures, compliance training for employees, compliance supervision, product compliance, offering compliance advice, and interacting with banking and securities regulators. Virtually every organizational document scheduled for release to the public needs prior review by a compliance specialist. In many cases, the advice of outside counsel and attorneys is also sought by compliance divisions. A full-time bank compliance officer will usually handle such responsibilities as:
  • leading a small, specialized team of employees

  • monitoring and reporting regulatory news and developments

  • preparing and distributing regulatory news bulletins

  • analyzing new rules and regulations to assess their impact on the organization

  • providing counsel regarding compliance with securities and banking laws

  • drafting memoranda and supervisory materials to address business and policy issues that require legal or regulatory compliance

  • reviewing and monitoring compliance issues pertaining to political and other contributions as well as gifts to government officials

  • interacting with other organizational departments while addressing legal matters, human resources issues, and policy development
Skills, Qualifications, and Attributes Needed in a Bank Compliance Job

A full-time bank compliance officer should have:
  • at least five years' legal or compliance experience, preferably in the finance sector, enforcement, rulemaking, or regulatory compliance

  • previous bank regulatory experience or experience in consumer finance

  • a legal degree, preferably a Juris Doctor

  • a proven track record demonstrating leadership skills and experience

  • excellent managerial skills

  • relationship-building skills

  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills

  • demonstrated professional integrity, maturity, and judgment

  • exceptional skill in writing and drafting documents

  • multitasking capabilities

  • the ability to handle a heavy workload and meet deadlines
In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the primary regulatory body overseeing the financial markets. The main goal of the SEC is to protect investors and market integrity. If you want to work in the compliance area of an investment bank or other financial institution, you will need to have a thorough understanding of SEC rules and regulations. It is your job to make sure the bank or financial firm for which you work operates within the rules set by government regulators. The bank compliance officer's function is to protect against risks related to legal or regulatory sanctions, material financial loss, and any loss of reputation that the bank or organization might suffer due to noncompliance with laws, rules, or regulations.
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Popular tags:

 financial sector  management  integrity  policies and procedures  J.D.  publicity  responsibility  compliance training  methods

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