It will come as no surprise to any compliance officer that the skill sets they must possess often stray far from any “textbook” definition of the job. What they may not consider is that, at times, their job may have a lot in common with the more exotic skill sets required of spies, gamblers, and diplomats.
Compliance officers are often treated as the corporate equivalent of a Swiss Army knife—a multi-disciplined tool ready to handle any problem shuffled upon them. The compliance officer is expected to be multi lingual in the sense that he or she is speaking the languages of lawyers, regulators, HR, auditors, bankers, investors, and whatever other specialists populate the marketplace and supply chain.
The compliance officer’s primary role is to ensure that rules, regulations and legal obligations are understood by all staff and more importantly that those rules are followed, regulations adhered to and legal obligations met. To carry out their role, the compliance officer must communicate clearly, train efficiently and relate easily.
This is no small feat considering all companies vary in size, specialty and culture or ethics. The compliance officer must fit their role into the company culture and adapt their skill set to meet their legal obligations but remain flexible enough to interact with all walks of life employed by, or engaged with, their business.
A challenge for the compliance officer is that they must not only understand the legalities of their particular industry wherever they are located in the world, but also pass this knowledge on to everybody in a company of 50 or 5000 employees. The compliance officer in any workplace should be viewed as first port of call to turn to for best practises and be able to explain them simply.
It’s no wonder the comparison is made to such a handy tool. Below are 5 ways I believe a compliance officer is like a Swiss Army knife:
If you think about the Swiss Army knife, it’s widely regarded as a piece of equipment you can trust to get the job done. A good compliance officer is dependable, trust worthy and helpful not only in an emergency but during everyday operations too. Providing clear guidance in the form of policies and procedures for all to follow.
2. Good Reputation
The Swiss Army knife has a strong reputation of quality throughout history. A compliance officer must possess a good reputation and be respected for their abilities. Their own adherence to ethical conduct is paramount to company culture and success.
3. Useful in Times of Strife
The Swiss Army knife can help you overcome a problem and fix it. In extreme terms, it can even save the day or a life. Should things hit a snag in your business, the compliance officer must have an easy access tool kit in the form of a solid review process to improve procedures moving forward. Much like the example above of the Swiss Army knife saving a life, these procedures in a workplace are designed to keep employees safe.
The Swiss Army knife comes equipped with many tools and gadgets to perform varied tasks. A compliance officer must also be equipped to be flexible, covering all areas of the business assessing potential risks, creating awareness, reviewing and reporting. They are versatile, can be depended upon and often turned to for assistance.
The final point is that a Swiss Army knife cannot perform its main duty if it is not sharp. This is true too of the compliance officer as they absolutely must be sharp enough to keep up with the fast pace of compliance management and regulatory changes.
Being a compliance officer is clearly a multi faceted job and whilst it might be clichéd, the Swiss Army knife metaphor fits very neatly into the corporate pocket.
How though, does the compliance officer ensure that they possess these qualities?
They must have access to modern technology to help them; be dependable, maintain a good reputation, effectively fix problems, diversify and stay sharp.