Working in Compliance and Risk Management: A Brief Description of Compliance Management-type Roles

This article briefly explores some possible tasks and the likely working environment when working risk management for a larger accounting firm.

What Kind of Tasks are Involved in Financial Services Compliance?

Working in financial compliance services can involve a number of varied tasks. It is hard to describe a “typical” role as this will vary greatly. However tasks will typically include giving advice to the client-facing staff on a range of risk issues and finding risk management solutions to enable the firm to take on new business, whilst balancing this against any risks involved. This might include, for example,

  • reviewing engagement letters and terms and conditions, and helping to negotiate changes to these where necessary or requested by clients
  • ensuring financial compliance and regulatory compliance (such as FSA compliance) – and reporting to regulators on such compliance
  • monitoring and managing any potential conflicts of interest and putting in place necessary procedures (such as ‘ethical walls’, or physical separation of two teams working on conflicting projects)
  • giving risk management training to the firm, new joiners, managers, directors etc;
  • advising on whether or not the firm should take on new projects – from both a commercial and a risk management perspective
  • reviewing project files to ensure there is evidence of compliance management and adherence to risk management procedures
  • advising on confidentiality agreements (for example where a client wishes to provide confidential information to the firm, but wants them to give an undertaking that they will keep it confidential)
  • advising on wider enterprise risk management policies and directions
  • overseeing the completion of anti-money laundering checks and client acceptance procedures;
  • providing advice on liability and indemnities
  • answering other risk queries as and when needed

This list is by no means exhaustive and will vary greatly from organisation to organisation, and even within the different risk teams of larger organisations. However it gives a general idea of the types of tasks that are generally involved in compliance management and regulatory compliance roles.

What are the Typical Working Conditions?

As above, it is hard to specify exact working conditions, as these will vary greatly. However most roles in financial compliance services are likely to be mostly desk-based, with risk management and compliance staff answering queries via email, phone or in person. Most of the time will therefore be spent at the desk, however this will be broken up by attending meetings, giving or attending training, sitting in on conference calls and so on. In some instances the risk management or compliance teams will sit separately on their own – however in other companies they may sit within the client-facing teams they provide advice to.

Hours may fluctuate but will be built around the staple office hours of 9:30-5:30. This will be subject to demands from the business and dependent on the volume of work coming in from the client-facing staff. However many are attracted to working in financial compliance and risk management as the hours tend to be more predictable and manageable than, for example, accountancy and law – where staff may be expected to work all hours to close a deal. The dress code will generally vary from smart casual through to corporate and there may also be scope for working from home on occasion.

Salary rates tend to be good, with an increasing demand for risk management solutions and compliance services as a result of the prevailing business environment following the “credit crunch”. On the whole, risk management services can offer an attractive career prospect for those looking for alternative careers in a corporate environment, and/or in accountancy, finance, business or law.

In summary it is difficult to describe a typical day in risk management and compliance, however it will likely involve a mixture of business and legal elements, in a corporate office environment and with promising career prospects.

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