Compliance Manager Qualifications and Skills

Compliance Manager Qualifications and Skills

Compliance is the engine and the driving force of internal financial control. Compliance managers determine and outline the programmes, behaviours, and company policies that help steer employees to meet the expected regulatory and legal standards and ensure effective corporate governance models. Compliance managers are required in some form in almost every financial sector or area of business where financial regulation or a financial crime is of paramount concern, from the charity sector to advisory services.

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Compliance managers are adept at risk management, and a large part of the effectiveness of a compliance manager is how they blend financial risk mitigation into compliance directives and company policy. Compliance managers are both ethical anchors and team leaders, capable of addressing compliance issues as they arise and mitigating future mishaps through succinct reactivity to audits, internal control feedback and understanding risk tolerance.

It’s worth iterating that compliance is often conflated with internal controls and financial auditing.

While the roles seem similar on paper, internal controls and compliance differ in one primary way: internal controls are the processes created to mitigate risk within organisations. Compliance is the specific execution of and continued effective management of those processes.

Regarding audits, compliance and the function of compliance managers will be included within internal or compliance-specific audits to guarantee processes meet industry and regulatory guidance. Compliance Managers, therefore, are allowed and expected to be reactive to audit outcomes and direction from internal controls.

Compliance managers are also sometimes referred to as compliance officers.

Academic Qualifications

Compliance managers are expected to be educated to a degree standard in a subject such as accounting or economics, law, IT, computer science, or business management. Masters degrees in similar subjects are generally held in high regard.


The International Compliance Association (ICA) and the Global Compliance Institute (GCI) offer compliance certifications that prepare compliance professionals for a career at the frontline of financial due diligence, reporting, training and regulatory oversight.

Courses can range from certifications in anti-money laundering (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS)) to a CCM (Certified Compliance Manager) or a Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) qualification.

Other certifications that support a career in compliance are:

  • Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  • Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)
  • Certified Community Bank Compliance Officer (CCBCO)
  • Certified in Healthcare Research Compliance (CHRC)
  • Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC)
  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

Work Experience and Internships

The pathways to compliance are many and varied.

As such, work experience in any of the following roles is considered a good foundation for entering the compliance workforce:

  • Law: Paralegal
  • HR: Customer Services, HR management
  • Finance: Analyst, FP&A, Accountant.

Some financial institutions will offer compliance internships, where interns will learn about the essential role compliance takes in the financial operation of modern businesses. Interns will likely work across departments, experiencing compliance operations through the lens of risk, legal and audit.

What Skills Are Needed To Succeed as a Compliance Manager?

The success of a compliance manager or compliance officer lies in a professional and confident knowledge of financial risk, controls, and regulations. This means, beyond a raw passion for law and finance, candidates come stocked with acute problem-solving abilities, project management skills, and the ability to work across departments, often up to the c-suite level, to improve services, regulatory knowledge and oversight.

Compliance managers have to be focused on results – the legal foundation of entire enterprises hinges on the ability of compliance managers and teams to secure the company against risk, exposure to poor regulatory frameworks, human error and fraud.

See also Cyber Security Analyst Qualifications & Skills for reference here.

Learn more about Compliance Manager careers here.

The following articles cover the job description, salaries, CV-building tips and more:

Job Description & ProfileSalary & PayHow to Become 

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See also Operations Manager Job Description & Profile here.

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