The onus should be on the banks and their compliance officers to ensure the analysts are kept separate from investment banking and they should be punished for breaches.

Mark Getty, Businessman

Pros and Cons of Working as a Compliance Officer

advantages and disadvantages of being a compliance officer

You think about becoming a compliance officer but are not sure whether this is the right career path for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you all the pros and cons of being a compliance officer in the following.

Compliance Officer Job Profile

Job DescriptionCompliance officers make sure that employees behave in line with laws and regulations to protect companies from expensive lawsuits.
Salary$68,000 per year on average, most compliance officers make between $61,000 and $82,000 per year.
Job SecurityGood since not many people want to work in this field.
Job SatisfactionDecent if you like paperwork.
Work-Life BalanceGood since you will have free weekends and also don’t work many extra hours as a compliance officer.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Working as a compliance officer can be mentally demanding.
Future OutlookDecent since good compliance officers will always be needed.
RequirementsYou need a college degree for becoming a compliance officer.

Advantages of Being a Compliance Officer

  1. Compliance officers don’t work many extra hours
  2. You have free weekends and holidays
  3. You don’t have to work at nighttime
  4. Compliance officers enjoy decent work-life balance
  5. You can earn decent money as a compliance officer
  6. You stay informed about latest rules and regulations
  7. Decent job security for compliance officers
  8. Working in compliance is not that stressful
  9. Teleworking may be possible
  10. You can protect your company from legal and financial distress
  11. Compliance officers don’t have to work in a physical manner
  12. Easy to get into a different field
  13. Compliance officers can work indoors
  14. You can work for many different companies
  15. You get in touch with many different departments

Compliance officers don’t work many extra hours

One advantage of being a compliance officer is that you don’t have to work long hours every day.

In fact, most of the year, you will not have to work many extra hours and will come home from work pretty early.

You will also not work on many projects that are time-critical and this means that you will not have a high time pressure to finish your work at a certain point in time.

If you don’t finish your work one day, you can just get back to work the next day to finish it.

Hence, while many other people have to do lots of work in a rather short period of time, you will have less pressure in this regard and can leave your workplace pretty early when many other employees will still have a few hours to go.

You have free weekends and holidays

As a compliance officer, you also don’t work on weekends and holidays.

While you may take this for granted, there are still many people out there who work during those unpleasant times.

For instance, a train driver often has to work on weekends since people still have to get from A to B during those times.

Consequently, while many other people will not be able to enjoy their leisure, you will be the one who can make nice weekend trips with your family or just relax in your garden.

I am sure you will find many things that you like even more than working and will really use your leisure as best as possible.

You don’t have to work at nighttime

Compliance officers also don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime.

You may think that most people leave work rather early.

However, there are also people who have to work during nighttime.

For instance, if you work as a waiter, it is quite common for you to work during those hours.

Moreover, also investment bankers are known to work quite long hours every day and will often not have the opportunity to meet up with their favorite people after work.

Instead, they often spend all their life at work.

In contrast, you as a compliance officer will have a standard workweek and will have many evenings that you can enjoy together with your family and friends.

Compliance officers enjoy decent work-life balance

In general, compliance officers also report a pretty good work-life balance.

Since you will not have to work on weekends and will also come from work relatively early, you will have lots of time to spend on your hobbies or with your family.

You will also be able to make many nice weekend trips while other people have to work.

As you can see, the life of compliance officers is often quite relaxed when it comes to the workload they have to deal with and many other people out there secretly wish to change places with them in this regard.

You can earn decent money as a compliance officer

Another benefit of working as a compliance officer is that you can also make good money from what you are doing.

Sure, you will not get rich as a compliance officer and there are jobs that pay significantly more.

Yet, you can still make a decent living and may even be able to afford some luxury.

Hence, working in compliance can also make quite a lot of sense for you in case you want a healthy mix between leisure and money.

You stay informed about latest rules and regulations

As a compliance officer, you will also always have to stay informed about the latest changes regarding the rules and regulations the company you work for has to comply with.

While it can be annoying and demanding to always stay ahead of the game, you will also learn a lot in this regard.

Over time, you will become a real expert in this field and if you are willing to work hard, you will also get many calls from your colleagues who ask for your expert opinion regarding latest regulatory requirements and how to implement them properly.

Decent job security for compliance officers

Another upside to a career in compliance is that you will also have pretty decent job security.

In fact, not many people want to work in compliance and this gives you the opportunity to stay in your job for quite a long time.

Moreover, compliance officers will also have excellent job security in the future since there is a lack of qualified people in this field and the trend of labor shortages in the compliance industry continues.

Consequently, becoming a compliance officer can also make quite a lot of sense in case a secure job is really important to you, even though you may not make as much money as in other fields.

Working in compliance is not that stressful

You will also not have that much stress as a compliance officer.

Sure, sometimes you will have to deal with really annoying colleagues and will have to explain to them how they should implement certain rules and regulations for quite a long time.

However, most of your workday will be rather relaxed since you will not have that much time pressure but can rather work on your projects in a quiet but yet efficient manner.

You will usually also don’t have to deal with many different projects at the same time but can focus on one regulatory project instead.

Hence, while many other people in your company will struggle to get their work done, you will be able to enjoy your workday in a rather relaxed manner and will therefore also have enough energy left to go for your hobbies after work.

Teleworking may be possible

Since you will work in a classical office environment, you may also be able to work from home or remotely from various other places you like.

In fact, thanks to our modern technologies, video calls can replace meetings in person to a certain extent and you may therefore not have to commute to work every day.

In turn, you can save plenty of time and can also manage your private and your professional life more efficiently.

The better you use your time, the more leisure you will have that you can spend on the things you like.

Hence, while other people have to show up at work in person, you can work remotely and also do some private things between two meetings to use your time as efficiently as possible.

You can protect your company from legal and financial distress

Compliance officers are also quite important for a company since they are the ones who assure that employees comply with rules and regulations set by the government or by municipalities.

Without compliance officers, many employees would likely just do what’s good for the company and maximize profits without caring about adverse effects and unlawful behavior.

Therefore, compliance officers are crucial for the long-term success of a company since they are the ones who step in in case they see things that are against the law and therefore prevent further consequential damage for the company they work for.

Compliance officers don’t have to work in a physical manner

As a compliance officer, you also don’t have to do heavy physical work.

While your work may be mentally exhausting, you still will not have to stress your body as much as construction workers or other people who have to lift heavy things all day long.

Not only will this make your workday much more convenient, but you can also reduce the risk to suffer from physical health issues once you get older.

In fact, many people who work in physically demanding jobs experience those issues and some of them even have to quit their jobs due to that.

In contrast, by working in compliance, you will not have to deal with these issues since you will rather sit in a comfortable office chair all day long.

Easy to get into a different field

Rules and regulations are present in almost every field you can imagine.

In fact, everything is regulated to a certain extent and therefore, compliance officers are able to build decent knowledge in many different areas the company they are working for is operating in.

Consequently, if you don’t work as a compliance officer anymore, you may also have a rather easy time switching fields and working for a different department since you will already have acquired some knowledge from your career in compliance.

Compliance officers can work indoors

Another advantage of becoming a compliance officer is that you can work indoors.

While many other people have to work outdoors in the cold or during periods of extreme heat, you will be the one who sits in a rather cozy office environment and enjoys a nice coffee or tea.

You can even use air conditioning or heating to make your workday even more convenient.

You can work for many different companies

Good compliance officers are always needed and this means that you will have the opportunity to work for many different companies.

In fact, almost every company of a certain size needs compliance officers to stay on track in the long run and if you build decent knowledge in this field, your job prospects will be excellent and you will almost have the freedom of choice when it comes to choosing the company you want to work for.

You get in touch with many different departments

Since compliance officers are responsible to identify all sorts of regulatory issues, this means that you will also have to work with colleagues from many different departments.

This can be quite interesting since it allows you to take a look at how people in different departments do their work and it may also give you some inspiration regarding your future career path.

By working with all those people, you will just get a pretty decent picture of how their workdays look like and can therefore get a good idea of what you want to do in the future once you don’t want to work as a compliance officer anymore.

As you can see, there are many important advantages to a career in compliance.

However, it is just not all upside and we should therefore also talk about the issues that come along with such a career to give you a better impression of what working as a compliance officer really looks like.

Disadvantages of Working as a Compliance Officer

  1. Other departments may not value your work
  2. You have to annoy people all day long
  3. Compliance officers don’t get rich
  4. You need a college degree for becoming a compliance officer
  5. You have to do lots of paperwork
  6. Hard to start your own business
  7. People may not respond to you
  8. Compliance officers work in a classical office job
  9. Lack of social interaction can be frustrating
  10. Working in compliance can be boring
  11. Difficult to start a real career in the company you work for
  12. Different regulatory standards across countries

Other departments may not value your work

One problem with being a compliance officer is that many other departments will not value your work as much.

In fact, you will often have to step in and prevent your colleagues from doing their work in the way they want it to do.

In turn, you will not be the most well-received colleague in the company you work for and will often have to deal with snarky comments.

Moreover, colleagues may also not want to get in touch with you and while other colleagues will have fun and talk to each other during lunch, you may sit alone and may have nobody to talk to.

You have to annoy people all day long

As a compliance officer, you will also be the one who has to annoy people all day long.

While your colleagues will try to do what’s best for the company, you will be the one who has to cancel their plans if you see anything that will not comply with local laws and regulations.

In fact, you will be kind of the bad conscience of your colleagues and chances are that other colleagues will get really irritated by you in the long run.

Also your calls may be quite unfriendly since your fellow workers often just don’t want to talk to you and you may just feel quite sad at your workplace since nobody seems to care about you.

Compliance officers don’t get rich

While you can make decent money as a compliance officer, you will still not make as much as people who have similar qualifications and work as financial analysts or investment bankers.

While you might have a much better work-life balance, you should make sure that money is not really important to you.

Otherwise, you should rather go for a different career path instead of becoming a compliance officer.

You need a college degree for becoming a compliance officer

For working in compliance, you often also need a college degree.

Not only does this mean that you will have to spend many years on college education, but you will also have to spend lots of money on it.

In turn, you may have to take on student loan debt which you will have to repay later in your life.

Consequently, before you decide to work as a compliance officer, make sure that this is really what you want to do for quite a long time to make the educational investment really worth it.

You have to do lots of paperwork

Another disadvantage of working as a compliance officer is that you also have to do lots of paperwork.

In fact, a big fraction of your workday will just consist of documenting meetings and calls you make with other employees.

Depending on the type of person you are, this can get really frustrating and annoying since you will not feel as if you provide any real value to your company.

Instead, you just do all the unpleasant work nobody else wants to do and if you are not a person who really loves this kind of work, you may get unmotivated with it pretty soon.

Hard to start your own business

It will also be pretty tough to start your own business in the compliance industry.

Few big companies are sharing the market in this field and without a strong brand, it will almost be impossible for you to enter this market.

Hence, if you really want to start your own business and don’t want to work as an employee forever, you should rather work in a different field where it is much easier to work self-employed than in the compliance industry.

People may not respond to you

Some colleagues will also not deem your work as important enough to even answer your calls.

In fact, some employees will just ignore you whenever they can and this can be really annoying, especially if you have to tell them things that are time-critical and you get no response at all.

Compliance officers work in a classical office job

You should also ask yourself whether you are the typical office guy or not.

In fact, while working in an office environment can be satisfying for certain groups of people, many people also don’t like working in those environments at all.

It often just feels pretty artificial inside those buildings and if you are not the type of person who enjoys computer work, you should rather go for more hands-on work instead.

Lack of social interaction can be frustrating

Another downside to working in compliance is that you may also suffer from a lack of social interaction.

Sure, you will participate in meetings and also make video calls from time to time.

Yet, since your colleagues will not be that eager to talk to you since they always have to fear being criticized, you will often feel lonely at work.

Working in compliance can be boring

You may also get bored with what you are doing rather soon.

In fact, working in compliance is not that exciting since you mainly have to deal with boring legal stuff and if you are not the type of person who is really keen on working on those topics, chances are that you will lose motivation pretty soon.

Difficult to start a real career in the company you work for

Since you will always have to bother your fellow workers with legal topics, you will also have a pretty hard time starting a fancy career inside the company you work for.

Many times, people will just be annoyed by you and will not promote you into any leading position.

Different regulatory standards across countries

Becoming a compliance officer may also be problematic in case you want to work abroad sooner or later since rules and regulations greatly differ across countries and if you specialize in regulatory standards of one country, you may not be able to transfer your knowledge to other countries.

Being a Compliance Officer Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being a Compliance Officer ProsBeing a Compliance Officer Cons
Compliance officers make decent moneyCompliance officers don’t get rich
You have a rather relaxed jobYou have to annoy your colleagues
You don’t work many extra hoursYou slow down growth
Compliance officers have free weekendsYou may get socially isolated
Good work-life balanceWorking in compliance can be boring
You can work for many companiesColleagues may not answer your calls
You can talk to many colleaguesYou need a college degree
Decent job securityStudent loans may become an issue
You are important for your companyDifficult to start a real career
Teleworking may be an optionHard to start your own business

Should You Become A Compliance Officer?

As you can see from the previous discussion, there are many advantages and disadvantages of being a compliance officer.

You should evaluate all the pros and cons of working in compliance yourself to make a profound decision regarding your future career path.

If you are still interested in a career as a compliance officer, also make sure to get detailed information about the job prospects, salary, educational requirements, work-life balance and job satisfaction of compliance officers.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming a risk manager

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming an accountant

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming a recruiter

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_compliance

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1086150/compliance-officers-employment-usa/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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