Chris Aukland is the managing director of specialist recruitment agency Ambition and is responsible for the growth and management of the Hong Kong business. He has 15 years’ consulting experience in the UK and Asia.
Ignore the cynics – compliance is key
I am a former analyst who moved into a compliance role in the same company about six months ago. Colleagues have since told me that it is considered something of a dead-end job, with almost no prospects of advancement. I get the impression the role is a bit of a joke. I took the position believing it was an important function in keeping the firm out of trouble and profitable. Have I been mistaken?
I am sorry to see you are receiving so much negativity from your colleagues. Interestingly, they could not be further from the truth.
Instead of being a “dead-end job” and “a bit of a joke”, the increased global focus on regulation has pushed corporate governance and compliance to the forefront of importance to the majority of banks and multinationals.
As a result, areas such as compliance, risk management and audit are seeing strong hiring activity with excellent opportunities for career advancement.
Over the course of 2014, we have seen an increase in the number of new hires for compliance roles. Even with the high requirements, these roles present excellent career opportunities for suitably qualified professionals.
Additionally, the evolution of the compliance function means that it is now viewed as an integral part of the business, further sustaining the demand for talented professionals in these areas. Examples of highly sought after positions include compliance officers with sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) experience, equity compliance managers with experience in dealing with both HKMA and SFC regulators.
Compliance officers need to show the value they bring to businesses and how they can mitigate risks while building relationships with stakeholders.
Although it a challenging and genuinely rewarding area of work, it is not suitable for everyone. A firm may resist certain advice and this might result in you having to step back and at times make unpopular decisions. Inversely, compliance can influence major decisions that affect firms and steer them in the right direction.
To get ahead in compliance, you will need experience, relevant qualifications and a positive attitude. In order to advance into regional roles, strong Mandarin and Cantonese language proficiency is important. Additionally, experience covering the Chinese market is well regarded by organisations.
Due to the nature of the role, high levels of integrity and ethics are key prerequisites, while a strong commercial sense and a keen understanding of the business you are working in will definitely help in advancing your career.