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Compliance Professionals: What SEC Crackdowns Mean For Your Career

Regulatory compliance has been a hot topic this year for a number institutions throughout the financial services industry. Throughout 2016, the SEC has aggressively increased its regulatory exams, particularly for private equity firms and hedge funds, and as a result, there has been a subsequent rise in demand for compliance professionals who possess strong regulatory compliance expertise.

With all of the changes to the SEC’s regulations and exam priorities, Ben Hartman, an Associate within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division, has observed a gradual increase in demand for a variety of compliance professionals. “To take proactive steps to strengthen their compliance teams, an increasing number of clients are looking to hire core compliance professionals, AML professionals, or outside counsel (i.e., certified tax resolution specialist, professional auditor, etc.),” highlights Ben. “Whether you’ve considered making a transition to a career in compliance, or are in search of new opportunities at the leadership level, now is a great time to start your job search!”

Today, employers want compliance professionals who exhibit open-mindedness, strong adaptability, and a motivation to learn. Here are some proactive steps you can take to position yourself as a strong prospective candidate:

  1. Stay current with recent headlines

In order for an employer to have a successful SEC exam, they must have the right makeup of compliance professionals to prepare and lead them through it. As a compliance expert, you must ensure you are keeping pace with the changes as business regulations continue to evolve. Therefore, you should stay current with industry trends as well as recent SEC updates, which can help you engage with prospective employers on hot topics throughout the interview process. “Our buy-side clients, specifically hedge funds, are currently reviewing their compliance programs and identifying deficiencies, and as a result, will be in search of more candidates with knowledge of AML rules and regulations,” says Ben. “Compliance professionals should refer to sites like the ACA Compliance Group or SEC published updates to educate themselves on issues affecting the industry.” To attract experienced compliance professionals to their organization, employers are offering very competitive salaries, so the more informed you are on pertinent issues, the easier it may be for you to demonstrate the value you can bring to the role.

  1. Do your due diligence on prospective employers

In addition to staying up-to-date on current trends, it’s equally important to do your due diligence on prospective employers before an interview. Depending on the hiring focus of the company, tailoring your resume to the specific role can be a great way to get noticed by prospective employers. For example, if a company is revamping their Code of Ethics (COE) compliance program and are in search of a Junior Analyst, you want to make sure your resume clearly highlights your COE exposure. Moreover, a great way to identify key stakeholders and learn about where they stand on key compliance issues is to review the company’s Form ADV. “Knowing more about the employer can help you strategize how to emphasize certain technical and soft skills,” advises Ben.

“Strong project management skills, adaptability, and the willingness to proactively learn about changing regulations, are the types of attributes hiring mangers look out for in new hires.” By doing your due diligence, you can leverage your understanding of the company’s hiring needs to better tailor your responses to anticipated questions about how you can help improve their processes.

  1. Attend networking events, roundtables, and conferences

Finally, compliance professionals can position themselves for success in today’s job market by proactively expanding their networks and knowledge base. “Since it’s difficult to find candidates with the “exact” skill set, employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate how they’ve attempted to improve their skills as regulations continue to change,” says Ben. “Employers need to trust their compliance team’s ability to keep the organization’s initiatives aligned with evolving governmental regulations. What better way to demonstrate your initiative than to get involved with industry events?” To expand your knowledge base and connect with like-minded professionals, networking events, roundtables, and industry conferences are all great places to start.