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Compliance Professionals: Should You Make The Leap To FinTech Compliance?

As a result of the financial crisis of 2008, banks have had to comply with strict regulations associated with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Dodd-Frank. Requiring these organizations to shore up their compliance divisions, this legislation has made compliance a critical business function. Today, we are experiencing another key shift in the industry; technology. This collision of two worlds—otherwise known as FinTech—is creating an entirely new wave of opportunities for compliance professionals.

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“Technology is disrupting the financial services industry and we are seeing this through the emergence of FinTech startups,” says Alex Wright, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “These companies are often focused on innovative services and solutions such as mobile payments, insurance, and crypto and blockchain. As more of these startups pop up, however, the same concerns remain. In order to minimize risk, create new products and services, and sell to banking partners and investors, these companies recognize that compliance needs to be a core business strategy.”

If you are interested in breaking into FinTech compliance, continue reading to see if you have the experience and skillset for this career transition:

In-demand skillsets

FinTech companies are turning to experienced compliance professionals from traditional institutions and legacy banks. “While the regulatory environment for FinTechs is still a little obscure, the smartest companies know they have to be prepared for a cohesive and uniform regulatory framework,” says Alex. “As a result, they are proactively building their compliance programs now.”

To accomplish this, they are looking for experienced candidates who can hit the ground running. This means those with the following backgrounds would make great candidates for these opportunities in FinTech compliance:

  • AML
  • Trade Surveillance
  • Forensic Accountancy
  • Compliance experience at a bank

Determining if FinTech compliance is the right move for you

For compliance professionals who are looking to diversify their experience, considering a position at a FinTech company can mean more than a big shift in your career. It could mean an opportunity to be part of the future of finance. So, how do you know if FinTech compliance would be the right fit for you?

“As an experienced compliance professional, you should already have the technical skills necessary to make the transition to a FinTech company,” explains Alex. “However, the culture at these startups can be completely different from that of a traditional bank’s. Focused on innovation and challenging the status quo, they are looking for people who share a similar mindset and can thrive in a fast-paced environment. In fact, many of our clients in this sector tend to hire for cultural fit above all.”

In this sense, the question about whether you can succeed in FinTech compliance really isn’t about your ability do the job. But rather, whether can you do the job in a startup type of work environment. Here’s what it takes to make the cut:

  • Creative thinking: Since the work can be fast-paced and ever-evolving, people who work in FinTech compliance need to be able to adapt to change and think out of the box. This is especially critical given the complex regulatory environment that FinTechs currently face. AML and other compliance staff must be prepared to think creatively and critically to ensure the company can keep innovating when faced with new industry developments.
  • A passion for FinTech: These companies are being created because they see opportunities to change the way businesses and consumers interact on a global scale. By creating and deploying new technology, they are upending traditional banking and leveling the playing field for new competitors. If you want to join in, you have to be excited about and aligned with the company’s mission.
  • Flexibility: While a compliance professional working at a legacy bank often has a more defined role, this is not always the case at a FinTech. At FinTechs—especially in the early stages—everyone is expected to pitch in. This means most employees wear different hats, and you may be required to do work that is not necessarily defined in your role. This can be a big change for an individual who is used to more structure in their day-to-day.

It’s an exciting time to join this new frontier of finance! If you still aren’t sure whether this is the right move for you, pursuing consulting opportunities in FinTech compliance is a great way to test the waters before making a longer-term commitment. You can check some job listings out, here!

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