Compliance specialists work at every level of a financial institution, ensuring that it is adhering the many and varied regulations put in place by the banking industry and local and federal governments. Because banks often do business with their client’s money—and therefore pay account holders interest—it is important for banks to have an internal review system, which watching as aspects of the business and certifies that all regulations are being followed, and standards of ethics are not being ignored.
The main task for most compliance specialists is overseeing bank activities, making note of any inconsistencies, researching any areas of concern, and reporting back to managers and other bank officials about progress or issues within the bank. Specialists will also be called on to give recommendations concerning new bank initiatives and projects, especially in regards to how those initiatives or projects could open the bank up for liability issues.
Some compliance specialists are asked to review any bank literature to make sure it complies with those same standards which govern the rest of the business, and does not misconstrue practices or mislead bank patrons. They may also analyze training programs to ensure new employees understand not only their role in the bank, but what actions are considered ethically sound, and which are not considered ethically sound. In this way, compliance specialists are both the first and last line of defense when it comes to compliance with regulations. They confirm that new employees are thoroughly trained on the bank’s standards and that all other employees are following those standards.
Compliance specialists may be asked to conduct refresher courses in compliance from time to time, not only to educate personnel about developments in the field, but also to remind all employees about regulations that may be forgotten or ignored.
The banking industry is currently the best employer of compliance specialists, as there are more regulations for this industry than almost any other industry. Most financial institutions ask candidates to have a financial or business-related bachelor’s degree, and some experience in the regulatory field.