What to Look for When Hiring Corporate Compliance Officer to Your Organization

April 18, 2023

The compliance officer you hire can make or break your organization’s success. Even the minutest cavity within your company’s compliance ship is enough to sink the entire vessel. A poor understanding of compliance can expose your company to reputational damages, hefty fines, and catastrophic legal ramifications. 

The right compliance officer, on the other hand, can not only mend every compliance crack within your organization but also make way for a solid culture of ethics. When hiring a corporate compliance officer, look for skills and traits such as: 

  • Industry experience
  • People skills,
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Fluency in the language of compliance
  • Ability to align both ethical and business goals. 

A Quick Look at the Responsibilities and Duties of a Compliance Officer 

From ensuring their organization adheres to all government regulations to preventing it from drowning in legal ramifications, fines, and reputational damages – a compliance officer wears many hats. They assist teams in crafting, implementing, and maintaining ethical oversight across the organization. On a regular day, you’ll find a compliance officer:

  • Monitoring the organization’s reporting tool to identify new risks to the organization 
  • Coordinating, reviewing, and updating existing procedures and policies 
  • Running compliance audits and analyzing departmental trends
  • Meeting filing deadlines and following regulatory reporting guidelines 
  • Detecting compliance-related issues from audit findings and fixing them by training teams to make course corrections and preventing violations down the line.

In addition to these responsibilities, a compliance officer also crafts a game plan to manage potential issues, assess financial risks, offer regular reports to top leadership, advise them on any changes that must be implemented, and ensure everyone understands why compliance is a top business priority. 

Important Skills and Traits to Consider 

Your organization’s compliance officer rescues your organization from the negative impacts of non-compliance. So, naturally, you want them to come armed with the right traits and skills. Here’s what to look for when hiring a corporate compliance officer:

Detail Oriented

Maintaining, implementing, monitoring, and training multiple departments on a new compliance training system demands attention to detail. 

A lack of this skill in your compliance officer can expose your business to serious risks. For instance, even the slightest delay in updating training materials each time a regulatory change takes place can cause serious legal ramifications. 

So, make sure you hire an individual who can manage complex projects without letting anything seep through the cracks. 

Industry Experience

Let’s face it: compliance is… not simple. It requires an ocean of prior industry knowledge and experience to fully understand, much less implement.

Take a look at the candidate’s experience in compliance analysis and auditing within your sector. Test their knowledge of state and federal compliance laws. Gauge their proficiency in compliance software tools. Find out if they can effectively utilize automation, data analytics, and cybersecurity tools when it comes to managing risks more efficiently. 

Solid People Skills

Sure, the role of a compliance officer is data-oriented and logic-heavy. But this doesn’t mean you sideline their soft skills. After all, liaising with auditors, stakeholders, regulatory representatives, business execs, and employees demands exceptional social skills.

Great communication skills are also critical to demystify complicated compliance terminology and requirements into easy-to-understand courses of action. The right officer must always possess traits like emotional intelligence, empathy, confidence, and communication skills. 

Critical Thinking 

To meet all regulatory requirements, a compliance officer must have critical thinking abilities to make relevant changes in business procedures, policies, and solutions. A candidate with critical thinking abilities will naturally oscillate towards sound decisions, solving problems with efficiency and calmness, and approaching risks with a secure strategy. 

Focus on the Bigger Picture

An experienced candidate knows exactly how compliance contributes to the success of an organization. In other words, they put the spotlight on the organization’s overall goals to proactively prevent risks that could interfere with high-level business decisions such as mergers and acquisitions. 

They will put the right systems in place to help your business identify underexplored markets and avoid any compliance-related obstacles in your organization’s success story. 

Good Values 

At the end of the day, compliance comes down to two critical things – protection and accountability. Compliance is inextricably linked with ethics. So, naturally, you’ll want to see a candidate display values of honesty, integrity, leading by example, and transparency. 

Aside from helping your organization stay on top of compliance requirements, an officer with good values will unlock an everlasting culture of compliance. 

Fluent in the “Language of Compliance”

Compliance-related terminology – SEC, CFTC, AML, OFAC, BASA, KYC, The Advisers Act, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, etc. – can mean next to nothing to your teams and internal stakeholders. The right compliance officer will have the ability to break down complex compliance jargon to ensure everyone understands what’s really important (even if they don’t remember the name). 

Common Interview Questions to Ask 

Having explored the responsibilities, traits, and skills a compliance officer must possess, let’s now look at common interview questions to help you spot the right candidate. The examples:

  • “What do you know about the risk profile for an organization like ours?”
  • “Reflect on your experience as a compliance officer.”
  • “Have you had to handle a situation in which an employee violated the company’s code of conduct?”
  • “How would you handle whistleblowers?”
  • “Would you like to show any compliance certifications you may possess? If not, do you plan to acquire any?
  • “What exactly makes for an effective compliance program?”
  • “Let’s say a senior executive has nudged you toward violating a company’s code of conduct. How would you handle such a situation?”

Final Thoughts 

Moral of the story: a compliance officer with the right qualifications is critical for the growth of your business. 

Every organization needs a thorough compliance program and policies. Unfortunately, however, not every business can afford a compliance officer. 

This is where the need for outsourcing compliance roles comes in. Get in touch with us now to know how we can help your company get past compliance-related changes and form a lasting culture you can be proud of.