Educating and Training Compliance Professionals for the Future

The compliance profession continues to grow at a fast clip. Hefty DOJ and SEC fines and criminal penalties have prodded companies to embrace the concept of compliance, and rely on compliance officers to keep their companies on the straight and narrow.

With the growing demand, companies are looking for qualified compliance professionals. Companies and recruiters are busy these days and scrambling to find qualified people to fill open positions.

Herein lies the big disconnect. Where do professionals receive the training and education to become a compliance professional?

Companies are demanding qualified subject matter experts who have had experience in running a compliance program at similar companies. In the absence of a real qualified pool of professionals, companies are going to suffer compliance difficulties.

Fortunately, we are now seeing an increase in academic programs to help train compliance professionals to move the profession forward. Barclay Simpson, recruiters for corporate governance positions, found in their 2016 Compliance Market Report that:

68% of compliance managers do not believe their department is sufficiently resourced for the demands made on it. (Up from 55% last year);
79% of compliance managers report they have found it difficult to recruit. (Down from 81% last year);
88% of compliance departments anticipate the need to recruit in 2016 with business growth and development a key driver.
These numbers suggest a tight job market, but there is more to it than that. A successful compliance professional must have a unique set of skills that is not easy to find:

Good with managing large volumes of detailed information
Persistently positive to reinforce the importance of compliance tasks, which can be viewed with distaste by operational personnel
Able to constantly be looking for areas to improve processes and procedures
Familiarity with all aspects of a business
Familiarity with legal and regulatory requirements
Ability to intermediate with multiple stakeholders
No wonder companies are struggling to find qualified personnel. I’ve seen these trends first hand. Companies are finally beginning to appropriately budget for compliance but even the biggest budget is useless without people to put it to work.

Academic programs focused on training professionals in the basics of compliance will help address the problem.

Compliance legal and regulatory compliance is a specialized body of knowledge that, luckily, can successfully be learned both through experience and through academic endeavors. I have recently partnered with Charlotte School of Law’s Center for Compliance and Ethics, and assisting in the design and delivery of compliance classes, leading to a Corporate Compliance Certificate.

I strongly believe that the Compliance Profession needs to devote time and energy to academically advancing the profession – whether through training individuals on the basics of compliance or through research and debate around compliance topics.

One of the key features of Charlotte’s Corporate Compliance Certificate is that you do not have to be an attorney to complete the program.

Completing the Compliance Certificate Program prepares students to take the compliance and ethics exam administered by the Compliance Certification Board (which also has accredited the program), and will help fill the knowledge gap a non-attorney may face when entering the compliance field. With an 18-week on-line format designed to allow students to “attend” and complete classes without leaving their jobs, this program makes sense not only for individuals looking to enter the compliance field, but also companies looking to promote internally or better equip their compliance personnel with the skills to meet the growing demands of complying with a quickly changing legal and regulatory environment.

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