Few areas of legal concern are as fraught with constant change as Compliance. The volume of new laws, regulations, government agency advisories and guidance that compliance professionals must stay current with, absorb quickly and be able to address and implement is overwhelming, a reflection of the increasing complexity of doing business in a shrinking, globalized world. For aspiring compliance candidates and compliance professionals concerned about job security, this is the gift that keeps on giving.
Our publication, Careers in Compliance: JDs Wanted, Volume 2 of our 18-volume 21st Century Legal Career Series (available from Amazon.com https://amazon.com and Nalp.org https://nalp.org/careers) goes into detail on where these jobs are and how to position yourself to compete for them.
Four Key Indicators:
Evidence is abundant that demand for compliance professionals is rising:
- One very effective way to determine if a practice area is growing is to track the number of programs about it such as seminars and conferences being offered. Using that metric, compliance is expanding massively.
- Another key metric is monitoring the cost of such programs. Participation fees are going up with demand.
- The number of compliance opportunities listed on online job sites is trending way up (see below).
- The number of compliance consulting firms is expanding both numerically and geographically.
A lot is going on that is causing compliance to become an even more vital organizational function than ever. Here is an inventory of some of the more significant trends that are prompting more attention on the function and, consequently, more job opportunities for attorneys in this JD advantage field:
Justice Department Amendments to FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy
In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) https://justice.gov modified the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Corporate Enforcement Policy https://complianceweek.com/news/news-article/a-closer-look-at-the-revised-fcpa-corporate-enforcement-policy that credits companies that voluntarily self-disclose violations, cooperate and take timely and appropriate remediation. A key change will now allow the use of messaging platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp for business communications provided controls are in place to ensure retention of business records. These controls require a strong compliance involvement, e.g., the development of policies and controls with respect to the use of these apps, restricting their use to devices the company owns and/or can control and review, and reviewing IT and data privacy policies and procedures regarding the use of messaging apps, among others.
Anti-money laundering compliance is a huge growth arena
This has emerged as a major area of compliance concern due to the huge European money laundering scandals and the first wave of cryptocurrency regulations in 2018. While this first impacted on big banks, it is now trickling down to smaller financial institutions. It involves more proactive information sharing, nurturing a culture of collaboration, and being sensitive to new privacy legislation.
Governments are developing a global regulatory framework for cryptocurrency anti-money laundering rules. The international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) https://fatf-gafi.org/ will release a set of international standards in June 2019, which will mean that the industry must adopt new compliance tools.
Also, look for information sharing to expand beyond the financial services industry.
“Technologization” of compliance
“FinTech” is rapidly transforming compliance by offering new tools for compliance officers to use. Compliance has become so wide-ranging and complex that it is spawning a proliferation of consulting firms and specialized legal practices hawking their FinTech wares and expertise. The U.S. government is issuing new FinTech regulations.
Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Legislation
The “Panama Papers” revealed the many creative ways criminals use shell companies and offshore havens to hide their assets. To combat this, expect national legislatures to enact more ultimate beneficial ownership legislation. In 2018, this was a primary focus of the G20 Summit.
In addition, regulators are also getting interested in this area. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network https://fincen.gov recently issued its Final Rule on Customer Due Diligence https://fincen.gov/resources/statutes-and-regulations/cdd-final-rule, an effort to force more transparency of ownership.
Sanctions are complicating compliance
Recently, governments have rolled out economic and financial sanctions against an array of nations—Iran, Europe, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Khashoggi murder—as well as individuals. This has prompted sanctioned nations to create alternative financing channels, thus adding new levels of legal and compliance complexity for those doing business with these countries.
International trade compliance is becoming a more highly regulated and complex arena
For example, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) https://cftc.gov Division of Enforcement released an Enforcement Advisory addressing companies and individuals not registered with, or required to be registered with, the CFTC that “timely and voluntarily disclose” to it of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act that involve foreign corrupt practices, when combined with full cooperation and appropriate remediation will lead to the application of a presumption by the Division that it will recommend to the Commission a resolution with no civil monetary penalty, absent other aggravating circumstances.
The implications of this advisory mean that the CFTC’s new interest in foreign corruption enforcement could likely increase the complexity of foreign bribery investigations and settlements.
Job Opportunity Indicators
Compliance jobs are being advertised in droves all over the Internet. They can be found in every conceivable employment sector:
- Law firm practice groups
- Consulting firms
- CPA firms
- International organizations
- Government at all levels
- Self-regulatory organizations
- Accrediting agencies
- Standard-setting organizations
- And other employers
Moreover, no industry today can do without a corps of compliance professionals. This is underscored when we examine what is going on with respect to online job boards. At this writing, Indeed.com https://indeed.com lists 2,141 compliance jobs. The U.S. government, which is experiencing a dramatic hiring slowdown, nevertheless lists more than 4,000 compliance jobs in its USAJobs (https://usajobs.gov) database.
Compliance professionals have, in recent years, moved past attorneys in measures of average and median compensation. The average entry-level compliance salary (taking the average of five outfits that monitor such data) is $60,000 in 2019 vs. $45,000 for attorneys.
As you can see, there is a lot going on in the Compliance space. Compliance is a solid alternative career for attorneys interested in using their legal training in an arena outside of “mainstream” law. The hours are better and the stressors are fewer. Layoffs are extremely rare. Despite the Trump administration’s regulatory pullback, there has been little impact on compliance hiring.