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What education is needed to become a compliance manager?

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Meng Meng’s Answer

Hi there, I was a Legal and Compliance Manager in a multinational company. My role is equivalent to a inhouse counsel which means I'm a lawyer but works in a corporate setting and not in a law firm. I was hired because I had a Bachelor's degree in law from the University of London (which is a Juris Doctor equivalent in the United States) and I am a licensed attorney in Malaysia. Being an inhouse counsel, I only provide advise to the Board of Directors and employees of the company. I will represent the company to liaise with the external attorney who will handle cases in Court. As a compliance manager, I can only advise the company I work for internally. So if you want to be a Compliance manager in particular for legal works, you would need legal qualification as mentioned earlier. The areas of compliance that I mainly dealt with in the company was anti trust law and anti bribery and corruption law. To ensure the employees are in compliance with the laws and to develop a system as a deterrence of a breach of such code of conduct in the company. If you would like to know about marriage and family, you could select that in your second year law program. However if your role is a financial compliance then you would need to have accounting qualification such as ACCA, CPA or professional certificate for Accountant. All the best to you.

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Lindsey’s Answer

Hi Mariah,
To get you started, visit: http://money.cnn.com/pf/best-jobs/2013/snapshots/20.html which details everything from what exactly a compliance manager does to what kind of degree(s) are needed to become one. I'm hopeful a professional with compliance management experience can provide you with better insight!


Best of luck.

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Paul’s Answer

Mariah,
From software perspective, there is a License Compliance Manager position that involves interpreting contracts and data to determine if an organization is in compliance. This position requires a detail oriented person who has soft skills in negotiations and teaming with others. Sales experience is a plus, since you are often involved in negotiations over findings and payment. I know this varies from the link Lindsey provided, but it might add another possible avenue for you to explore. Best of Luck

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Patrice’s Answer

I have a degree in Information Assurance, so my job is to make sure that whatever my company does complies with all regulations that pertain to my industry. However, my daily tasks require a large number of broad skills such as being able to manage a project and drive it efficiently to completion, being able to communicate effectively with people at all levels of the organization, organization of information, etc., so I would suggest that you could start with any number of approaches that would build those foundational skills, and then you can get more specialized as you go. My bachelor's degree was in English, then I got the Information Assurance degree afterwards, and I got certifications specific to my industry such as CISA in between.
Also, there are many types of compliance, so you should consider what kind of compliance you like, and look at education specific to that sector.
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Isabel’s Answer

I would recommend you look into a credited college that offers Compliance Courses/Degrees. Next you need to choose the industry and a specialization such as: ethics, Anti-money laundering, data privacy, consumer protection, investigations, etc. In addition to your degree, you should highly consider obtaining compliance certification/ licenses.
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Heather’s Answer

Hi Mariah! If you are interested in compliance related to ensuring the financial statements issued by publicly traded companies are complete and accurate, you might consider studying accounting. There is legislation (the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) that requires companies to design, test and report on their internal controls over financial reporting each year. The goal of the legislation is to give investors confidence in the financial statements the companies issue. Companies whose stock is traded on a public stock exchange are required to comply with the legislation. I find this work interesting. It allows you to learn how various parts of the company operate and evaluate whether the processes and controls they have in place are effective. Good luck!
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Raul’s Answer

The first thing you need to have is a clear idea of what industry/business you would like to work in. Compliance is a broad concept that applies to multiple companies. Do you like the pharmaceutical, financial, technology, health, construction, etc.? Each type of industry has its own set of laws and regulations that the Compliance unit must work with. Also, a compliance unit is divided in many teams that do different tasks. For example:
- Reviewers/Auditors, get sure the businesses are complying with regulatory requirements
- Compliance advisors, provide the business with advice on how to comply with regulatory requirements to handle day-to-day situations
- Compliance representatives. These represent the business when outside entities are auditing and examining the company's operations (outside auditors or government agencies).

So, to answer what education you need to have, the answer is "it depends the industry". Generally, study accounting is a good way to start because the compliance function needs to have people that can perform reviews and examinations. Legal is another thing to consider if you want to work in compliance. However, neither an accounting/business or a law degree is a requirement to work in compliance. I know people that study biology and are good compliance officers for a medical device manufacture company. Same thing with engineers. In synthesis, first focus on the industry or business and then check whether working in compliance is a good fit for you.
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Matthew’s Answer

My suggestion is to start with a Business Degree, as this is what I did. Understanding the bigger picture of the business you are over is key to being a good compliance manager. You can then pursue many different certifications which will provide more expertise in the compliance field. A law degree is another great choice. Being a compliance manager basically means being able to interpret the legal/regulatory space for whatever industry you are covering. I think it really depends on what industry you are in, and what type of compliance you are covering as well.
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