The chief compliance officer is a vital component of a business team. They act as regulators to ensure that their company stays on the right side of the law. However, that’s oversimplifying an otherwise complicated role, as the chief compliance officer job description includes a lot.
If you’re a legal professional exploring career options or an employer seeking competent profiles to fill this role, keep reading.
In this article, we’ll break down the chief compliance officer job description. Additionally, we’ll share what it takes to be a great CCO (or what to look for when evaluating candidates).
Let’s get started.
Who is a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)?
A chief compliance officer (CCO) – sometimes also referred to as a compliance manager – is a senior-level executive who is responsible for ensuring that the organization complies with all of the applicable laws by creating, implementing, and monitoring policies, regulations, and support systems.
The chief compliance officer oversees all compliance activities in the organization. In doing so, they prevent their employer from facing legal charges, hefty monetary damages, and embarrassment for failing to follow the law.
In almost every organization, the chief compliance officer reports directly to the chief executive officer.
Despite being a crucial part of the senior management, there are many companies in the United States that don’t have designated chief compliance officers (according to Deloitte, 1 in every 5 organizations don’t have CCOs).
In a company with a small compliance department, the general counsel may assume the responsibilities of the CCO, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance.
Breaking Down the Chief Compliance Officer Job Description
When hiring for the role of chief compliance officer, it’s absolutely crucial that you set clear expectations right off the bat to attract the most competent candidates.
The only way to do that is to create a super-detailed chief compliance officer job description.
Here’s a template of a job brief that you can customize to your liking and use to create job postings:
“We are currently seeking a competent profile with extensive experience in corporate compliance to join our team as its Chief Compliance Officer. As the CCO, you will be responsible for evaluating compliance risks, managing the company’s corporate compliance program, and reporting on compliance issues.
You will work closely with the senior management to create policies, procedures, and protocols, ensuring that they’re in-line with the law and latest regulatory requirements.
The ideal candidate must have a minimum of 3-5 years of experience in corporate compliance, should hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, and have sound knowledge of the financial/healthcare/whatever applies industry.
Furthermore, the candidate must have strong leadership, sound judgment, and solid communication skills.
If you’re interested in this role, apply with your latest resume and a cover letter explaining why you’re the perfect candidate.”
Typical Roles and Responsibilities of a Chief Compliance Officer
The exact roles and responsibilities of a chief compliance officer may vary from company to company.
In some organizations, the CCO collaborates with the general counsel. In others, all the compliance efforts are overseen by the CCO alone.
Whatever the case, here’s what a typical chief compliance officer is responsible for:
Creating and Implementing Internal Policies and Regulations for Compliance
In all companies, the primary responsibility of a chief compliance officer is to ensure compliance – we’ve established that.
However, in order to do that, they need to do a lot more than keep a pulse on the legal landscape and keeping the board of directors informed of the compliance requirements.
They work closely with the senior management to create clear company policies which promote actions and behavior that comply with the law.
How do they do that? By conducting in-depth risk assessments, legal research, and consistently keeping an eye out for any changes in statutes and regulations.
The internal policies are then streamlined, communicated, and implemented throughout the company.
Managing Compliance Training
Ensuring compliance throughout the organization is challenging.
It takes a lot more than just to communicate the company policies to make sure everyone sticks with the law.
To set a culture of compliance, and get both new and existing employees up-to-speed with the statutes, policies, and regulations, the chief compliance officer collaborates with the human resources team to set up a comprehensive compliance training program.
Like everything else, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating such a program. Training is typically designed around the following common risk areas:
- Workplace harassment
- Environment safety
- Equal employment
In most companies, the CCO has complete authority over the designing, implementation, and monitoring of the program.
Closely Monitoring and Reporting on the Corporate Compliance Program
Everything that we’ve discussed so far – the policies, regulations, and training – comes under the broad umbrella of corporate compliance programs.
Usually, “creating/managing compliance programs” is listed as a separate task in a typical chief compliance officer job description.
After implementing everything, the chief compliance officer closely monitors their compliance program.
However, that’s easier said than done.
This involves conducting rigorous internal audits, performing compliance reviews, and selecting the right metrics to see if the organization is on its way to achieving its goals.
On top of everything mentioned above, the CCO also keeps the senior management in the loop by reporting to them.
Addressing Compliance Issues
As the regulator of the organization, the chief compliance officer is also responsible for addressing non-compliance within the organization.
They may not always have the authority to take direct action against a blatant violation of corporate compliance policies, and therefore possibly the law, they do have to come up with the appropriate steps, including escalation and remediation.
Reviewing and Revising Compliance Programs
A chief compliance officer’s work is never really finished.
With the legal and political landscapes uncertain, statutes and regulations tend to change from time to time. At times, those changes may not seem that significant, but could have huge implications for certain organizations.
The chief compliance officer, therefore, ensures that their compliance programs are up-to-date with the latest law, and tweaks them if necessary.
Additionally, the CCO also revises the compliance program if it’s not effective.
What Makes a Great Chief Compliance Officer?
Creating a solid chief compliance officer job description will help you garner the attention of the right profiles.
However, it won’t guarantee that you’ll hire the perfect person for the job.
To ensure that your future-CCO is well-qualified, equipped, and passionate to oversee compliance in your organization, make sure that they hit the right boxes.
As mentioned earlier, the chief compliance officer is a senior-level role.
Like all senior management positions, the candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree in law, finance, business administration, or any other relevant field.
Having a master’s degree isn’t usually a prerequisite but is considered a huge plus.
In addition to basic academic qualifications, the ideal candidate must also have ample experience.
While there’s no universal number that all employers agree upon, 5 to 10 years of experience in corporate law is a good range to aim for.
The perfect candidate should be well-versed in the following:
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Problem-solving skills
Make sure that you screen your candidates for the aforementioned soft skills.
How Much Do Chief Compliance Officers Earn?
In the United States, chief compliance officers are well-compensated for the extremely valuable legal and business expertise they bring to the table.
Of course, the exact salary figures vary from state to state (and industry to industry). Here are 3 estimates procured from renowned platforms:
- Glassdoor – according to 170 salary reports gathered on Glassdoor, a chief compliance officer, on average, can earn around $149,943 per year in the US. The website doesn’t have any data on additional compensation.
- PayScale – as per the salary reports mentioned on PayScale, a CCO can earn $119,815 per year. Additional compensation, on average, is $19,576 for bonuses and $8,500 in profit-sharing, bringing the total compensation to $147,891.
- Salary.com – finally, as per the data collected on Salary.com, chief compliance officers on average earn $237,401, which is significantly higher than the other two sources.
When creating a compensation package, factor all variables, including the geographical location and industry.
You need to pay extra care when hiring someone to oversee the corporate compliance function in your organization.
A bad hire can potentially cost you millions in lawsuits.
By carefully understanding what the role entails, creating an airtight job description, and placing a strong screening process, you’ll eventually come across that ideal candidate.