By: Anne Angowitz
Many will say that it is about time.
Those attorneys who had the courage to step out of the box and focus on regulatory and compliance, when caution and the norm dictated the safer “generalist” route, are seeing greater demand from companies for their domain expertise. Companies in all regulated industries (i.e. all companies) are seeking attorneys with specific skills to bring in-house, and they are being handsomely rewarded for their knowledge and skill (more about that later).
What is probably most interesting are the roles and responsibilities these specialists are afforded in such organizations. The compliance officer is no longer relegated to simply acting as a watchdog, charged with the tedium of regulatory schemes. The green eyeshade is gone. Compliance officers are investing quality time with business-units, contributing to strategy, developing policies and procedures and implementing training programs. This often translates into greater visibility at the most senior levels.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that compliance professionals, even those with limited experience in the field, are predicted to see compensation rise by 3 to 4 percent this year. The Journal further reported that getting a professional certification in ethics and compliance can earn an attorney up to 22 percent more take-home pay as a director or manager, and 11 percent more as an assistant or specialist.
So, a career in compliance is looking pretty rewarding. Instead of merely being reactive, doing surveillance to uncover past transgressions, these are the leaders, setting the tone. They are responsible for driving innovation and policy. Michael Nolan, a global partner for KPMG’s risk consulting practice, told the Journal he sees opportunity for people with experience in highly regulated industries, such as finance, telecommunications and health care, especially people with global experience. “Deep industry knowledge in the right context can be of high value in areas where we are hiring,” he told the Journal.