How To Stay Competitive In The Ever-Evolving Field Of Compliance

Among many campaign promises made during the past year and a half, President-Elect Donald Trump said he planned to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act. With the new administration set to begin this upcoming January, financial services professionals, particularly those in compliance roles, have voiced concerns over their job security. In particular, compliance professionals are unsure as to whether or not their roles would be needed with the loss of Dodd-Frank, and would ultimately lead to downsizing within that area in financial services.

But according to Ben Hartman, an Associate within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division, compliance professionals shouldn’t be concerned about downsizing or a lack of opportunities in the future.

“There’s been a lot of talk about repealing Dodd-Frank with the incoming administration, but a repeal of the act alone doesn’t necessarily spell out the end of compliance,” says Ben. “Even if the law were to be repealed —a much more difficult process than many people realize —there will still be many opportunities where compliance professionals can continue to find success in the future.”

To ensure you can be competitive in the evolving market, consider taking the following steps:

Stay updated on current events

According to Ben, a repeal of Dodd-Frank would require time and effort, meaning the need for compliance professionals will remain. “In order to ensure that banks follow proper protocol and are in compliance with regulations, they may rely on those compliance professionals even more than they do now to avoid large fines.”

However, it is also important to continuously monitor current events within the industry in an effort to see where compliance trends may shift. “There are plenty of areas in compliance that have the potential to grow with a new administration,” explains Ben. “For example, there’s a strong possibility that Trade Compliance will become an important area of expertise in the coming years, as will Code of Ethics Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering. Being aware of these events will help you decide what type of career move you’ll need to take to keep your skills up-to-date with evolving market trends.”

Take on new projects

Along with following current trends and events within compliance, professionals should consider the possibility of taking on projects outside their realm of expertise. In an industry like compliance, where there are multiple areas you can focus on, familiarizing yourself with different areas can ultimately benefit you in the future. In the event that you would have to shift your interests and area of expertise,  diversifying your skillset gives you the option to gain experience within an area that may grow under the presence of a new administration.

Become a subject matter expert

If you ultimately decide to pursue new projects outside of your realm of expertise, you may also want to consider becoming a subject matter expert in an area that interests you. “With the possibility of new compliance areas gaining more importance and relevance, banks will need people who have expert-level knowledge of these trends,” explains Ben. “With shifting priorities in the industry, it would be a tremendous benefit for compliance professional to learn and really own a particular process, and be able to advise banks on what to do to adapt.”

Consider consulting opportunities

Should you decide to become a subject matter expert, you may be able to put yourself in a position where a bank may need you to consult. Depending on where attentions shift in compliance, Alex Wright, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance Division, believes that the new administration could result in a noticeable increase in consulting opportunities.

“In periods of uncertainty, employers tend to hire on a temporary / consulting basis to ensure they have the staff they need to get them through transitions,” says Alex. “Additionally, roles such as trade surveillance are project-based in nature, so it’s in a bank’s best interest to bring in someone who is uniquely qualified to see these types of tasks from start to completion.”

To take advantage of these opportunities, Alex advises professionals to seek opportunities to specialize in an area of compliance. “Since compliance is such a broad field, there are plenty of options to explore and become well-versed in,” Alex says. “Being adaptable, especially with changing administrations, is key to being successful within compliance. The more you can prove this on your resume, the more valuable you will be to prospective employers.”