Hot Jobs: What Does It Take to Be a Compliance Manager?

By Robert Half September 29, 2015 at 3:00pm

Job opportunities in corporate compliance are on the rise as legal departments across the nation grapple with increasingly stringent government regulations. In fact, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Chief Legal Officer (CLO) 2015 Survey, ethics and compliance continue to top the list of chief legal officers’ concerns. As a result, corporate counsel hiring managers are seeking a range of compliance specialists, from analysts to directors. One of the most sought-after professionals is the compliance manager.

The compliance manager, who often reports to a compliance director, is tasked with ensuring that the company complies with federal, state and industry regulations and standards. Given the increasing volume of work, it’s no surprise that compliance manager salaries are on the rise. According to Robert Half Legal’s 2016 Legal Salary Guide, compliance managers with seven to nine years’ experience can expect to earn a starting salary of between $94,500 and $116,750 — a 4.7 percent increase over 2015.

Do you have what it takes to land a management career in compliance? Here are four key qualifications and traits of a successful compliance manager:

1. Powerful communication skills

As a compliance manager, you are not only responsible for developing and overseeing the company’s standards for legal and ethical conduct, you must regularly communicate this complex information to employees in clear, concise messages that resonate broadly. This might be through staff training, public speaking or internal communications. A knack for effective communication is key for a compliance manager.

2. Leadership experience

Compliance managers are usually responsible for managing one or more compliance analysts as well as consultants and other specialists. So you’ll need demonstrated leadership skills. In-house counsel hiring managers typically look for candidates with a minimum of five to seven years’ management experience. Be sure that experience is prominent on your resume, highlighted in your cover letter, and that you have the right professional references to back you up.

3. Proven integrity

Because the job of a compliance manager is to ensure the organization complies with rules and regulations, it’s critical to have a strong moral compass and a track record of ethical decision-making. Of course, integrity is essential for everyone on a compliance team, but perhaps even more so for the compliance manager, who must direct analysts, compliance specialists and other staff members in making sound decisions. 

4. Deep understanding of laws and regulations

In-house counsel, when hiring a compliance manager, often look for candidates with proven compliance experience, preferably in highly regulated areas such as financial services. Although compliance managers can always learn the details of specific mandates on the job, it’s considered a plus if they already have a grasp of the broader regulatory landscape in the given industry. Sought-after compliance managers have strong analytical skills and the ability to understand and scrutinize convoluted laws and regulations. 

If, after considering these traits and qualifications, you decide that you don’t yet have the necessary qualifications to be a manager, you might consider starting off as a compliance analyst. These specialists are generally responsible for researching compliance rules and regulations, identifying potential compliance issues and collecting and analyzing relevant information. According to the 2016 Legal Salary Guide, compliance analysts with one to three years of experience can expect a starting salary between $52,750 and $71,250. That role can serve as a solid stepping-stone toward your goal of becoming a compliance manager.

To learn even more about careers in compliance, download Robert Half Legal’s 2016 Legal Salary Guide now.

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