Career Path Job Descriptions

What Does a Corporate Compliance Officer Do?

Every company in the private sector has to adhere to strict rules, laws, and regulations. Understanding compliance requirements and fulfilling it is as important as doing your taxes. That’s why companies hire in-house or external corporate compliance officers

The duties of corporate compliance officers can change according to different industries and organizations. Some industries are heavily regulated, while others are relatively lax. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look into the roles, duties, and abilities of a corporate compliance officer. 

What Does a Corporate Compliance Officer Do – Typical Roles in Organizations 

The corporate compliance officer and the chief compliance officer are usually considered to be the same role. Most companies don’t differentiate between the two. 

The chief compliance officer job title is generally acceptable and works in private and public organizations. However, the corporate compliance officer job title is only used in the private sector/corporate world. 

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As a result, you’ll find that a lot of private companies often use the corporate compliance officer job title. However, in some companies, the two titles are used to showcase progression. The compliance department has compliance specialists, senior compliance officers, compliance managers, corporate compliance officer, and then the chief compliance officer, in that particular order. However, this usually happens in larger organizations. 

Smaller organizations usually have a few compliance officers and a corporate compliance officer that heads the other officers. 

Regulated industries such as the financial services industry, healthcare industry, and the insurance industry usually have multiple CCO roles. These industries are also required by law to have a chief compliance officer. In such cases, the corporate compliance officer is considered secondary to the chief compliance officer. 

In any case, the corporate compliance officer usually works with senior management or directly with executives and the board of directors. 

The corporate compliance officer role involves ensuring regulatory compliance, the development of compliance policies, and the development of a corporate compliance program

Furthermore, corporate compliance officers have to make sure an organization’s corporate integrity is intact. Managing that requires knowledge of legal requirements and regulatory requirements for all organizational departments. 

At times, corporate compliance officers also work with the legal department. They may work alongside attorneys and the general counsel, especially when they need to offer advice or recommendations to upper management. 

As a result, corporate compliance officers require several skills to effectively do their job. 

What Does a Corporate Compliance Officer Do – Duties and Tasks 

Every corporate compliance officer can have different duties and tasks, depending on how the organization views the role. Other than that, the industry matters too since heavily regulated industries are more likely to have more responsibilities for CCOs. 

The companies that only hire corporate compliance officers tend to relay all compliance-related management to the CCO. 

In any case, the following responsibilities, tasks, and duties are what the typical corporate compliance officer has to manage. 

  • Work with the chief compliance officer or directly with the CEO, CFO, CIO, and the board of directors. Offer recommendations and advice related to compliance issues if needed. 
  • Manage various smaller sections and departments of an organization by developing internal policies. 
  • Make sure you’re the person enforcing HIPAA compliance while promoting privacy practices across the company. 
  • Work towards improving the quality of documentation, walk-through, and testing. 
  • Evaluate external rules and compliance requirements to determine how the organization should move forward with a compliance plan. 
  • Update company compliance policies to move on to implementing an organization-wide compliance plan. 
  • Manage the compliance committee or compliance department while working side-by-side with the legal department. 
  • Ensure all compliance efforts are being done and manage compliance activities across the company. 
  • Minimize compliance risk and regulatory risk through thorough risk assessment. Assist the risk officers in risk management to avoid long-term issues. 
  • Monitor and analyze any areas of noncompliance and figure out the reason behind it. Come up with solutions to fix any further issues brought on by noncompliance. 
  • Provide compliance training to employees and compliance officers. 

The duties, tasks, and responsibilities listed above are usually what a corporate compliance officer is expected to do. However, due to changes in the job title, it’s possible that the corporate compliance officer has a lot more responsibilities or a lot less. 

What Does a Corporate Compliance Officer Do – Skills and Abilities 

While the duties and tasks of a corporate compliance officer can change according to the organizational structure, the skills and abilities required stay the same. The only noticeable difference is that corporate compliance officers in different industries would be expected to have knowledge of their own industry. 

On average, the corporate compliance officer is expected to have the following qualifications, skills, and abilities. 

  • A bachelor’s degree in law or any related field is needed. Furthermore, a master’s degree is also expected. However, most companies prefer that the corporate compliance officer has a Juris Doctor degree. 
  • Somewhere between five to ten years of experience is required. Prior experience is expected to be in the same industry. The reason for the massive range in the expected years of experience is due to different organizational structures. 
  • Complete knowledge of local, state, and federal rules, laws, and regulations for the relevant industry is required. 
  • An excellent understanding of organizational compliance standards is mandatory. The CCO should know exactly what regulation applies in various circumstances to avoid noncompliance. 
  • Ability to manage different computer-related tasks is essential. The CCO is expected to have a solid understanding of the usual Microsoft Office products, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and SharePoint. 
  • Excellent research and analytical skills are required for a proactive approach to compliance. The CCO is expected to keep all relevant regulations and compliance standards in mind while developing solutions to be more compliant. 
  • Strong functional and management skills are required to manage the compliance team. 
  • Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills are needed to effectively work with executives, regulators, and other stakeholders. 

The qualifications, skills, and abilities listed above are needed by most corporate compliance officers. However, in heavily-regulated industries, the corporate compliance officer may need to show additional qualifications, skills, and abilities. 

How to Become a Corporate Compliance Officer 

Since the corporate compliance officer can have extremely varying roles, their salaries can be very different. Due to that massive difference, the average salary of corporate compliance officers is much lower than the average salary of a chief compliance officer. 

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a full-time corporate compliance officer in the United States is $67,637. The typical salary range is between $45,000 and $100,000, with the upper end being offered in major hubs such as New York. 

The primary reason for the drastic change in the average salary is primarily due to different organizational structures. Companies that consider the corporate compliance officer to be an executive-level position pay accordingly. However, most organizations that consider the position as a stepping stone to becoming a chief compliance officer pay less. 

However, the salary also depends on whether the corporate compliance officer is in a heavily-regulated industry or not. 

Due to this disparity, not all corporate compliance jobs are at the executive level. However, that also means that aspiring corporate compliance officers don’t need to have excessive working experience. Furthermore, working in the role helps you understand the chief compliance officer role too. 

In any case, becoming a corporate compliance officer starts with getting the right education. It’s best to opt for a Juris Doctor degree. 

When you start working, it’s advisable to start in a company that’s in an industry you want. That’s primarily because it’s best to continue your professional compliance experience in the same industry throughout your career. 

Once you’ve nailed the industry, work towards the rank from the compliance officer to the corporate compliance officer. 

Most importantly, develop a good reputation through a by-the-book approach. 

Becoming a Great Corporate Compliance Officer 

Becoming a great corporate compliance officer is about finding the right trajectory for your career. The most important thing is to decide on one industry and work towards it until you have adequate knowledge and experience with all the relevant laws, rules, and regulations. 

It’s also advisable to keep a close relationship with the State Bar Association, regulators, and regulatory bodies. 

Furthermore, it’s also best to work closely with other compliance officers and attorneys. Ask for their opinions and thoughts before recommending action or advising someone. 

Most importantly, it’s critical for the corporate compliance officer to remove any conflicts of interest.

By Josh Fechter

Josh Fechter is a partner at Corporate Compliance HQ and has founded several companies in software and training.