The Bank Compliance Officer
One of the most important careers in compliance is that of the bank compliance officer. Bank compliance officer jobs deal in managing the complexities of financial transactions, making sure that these transactions follow established accounting and fiduciary procedures. With the growing importance of federal financial regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which makes the governing officers of a corporation personally responsible for any legal irregularities, the bank compliance officer's role has become more critical to maintaining good financial governance. Bank compliance jobs call for talented people who are good with numbers, have a flair for accounting, are exacting, organized, and above all, have a strong sense of responsibility and integrity.
Bank compliance officers should have strong accounting skills and have at least five or more years working in the legal or compliance field, dealing with financial enforcement, regulations, and consumer finance. Excellent managerial and communications skills are very important, as bank compliance officers are often leading small teams that oversee specific aspects of banking rules. A legal degree (Juris Doctor) is also required, as well as a thorough understanding of SEC rules and mandates.
Like most bank employees, banking compliance officers have a 9-5 workday, Mondays through Fridays. Work takes place in clean, well-lit bank offices. Bank compliance officers use computers in their daily work, as well as complex analytical programs that can track financial transactions. Banking compliance officers often lead small teams that handle various aspects of a bank's overall compliance strategy. Keeping up with changes in banking regulations and making sure that all divisions of the bank are kept informed is a large part of the job; in many ways, the ability to communicate effectively is more important than financial ability.
Salaries for bank compliance workers can vary widely, due to training and location. Based on Bureau of Labor statistics as of 2006, median salaries were $54,630, with the midranges between $42,520 and $71,960. The top 10% of wage earners made more than $94,050, with starting graduate salaries averaging $46,718 to $49,277.
Compliance careers are not necessarily the best path for advancement. It is rare that compliance officers are moved into management or executive positions. In many cases, a career as a bank compliance officer is the culmination of a career that may have begun as an accountant or financial analyst. It is not uncommon for successful compliance officers to leave to start their own compliance-consulting firms. Since there are so many areas of compliance available, consultants can find working as a specialist in one of the various areas of compliance to be a lucrative direction.
The compliance industry is a growing field, with many excellent career opportunities available for those with the right training. Based on 2006 Bureau of Labor statistics, compliance worker employment is expected to expand faster than the national average of all occupations, up to 18% through the 2006-2016. Period. New financial rules, especially in the current climate of re-regulation, are forecast to create as many as 226,000 possible openings, with new opportunities opening up in large banking firms nationwide.
Several other events have worked to increase the demand for bank compliance officers. Post September 11, the Anti-Money-Laundering (AML), and new guidelines to detect money laundering and possible terrorist transactions created new and stringent guidelines. Bank compliance officers are now responsible not only for maintaining a watch on a bank's financial practices, but must also be on the lookout for suspicious transactions. In these cases, they must file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Treasury Department.