Getting Started in Compliance

Compliance officers ensure that a company adheres to the legal rules and regulations. The role of the compliance team is to promote ethical conduct in a company.

The consequences of misconduct are severe for companies. These consequences include financial and reputational damage, as regulators have little to no tolerance for regulatory breaches.

Compliance officers are responsible for staying updated with the latest regulations and business trends to ensure a company remains compliant.

We can suggest practical steps to take if you need help getting started as a compliance officer.

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Getting Started in Compliance

What is a Compliance Officer?

Compliance Officers are essential for the regulatory well-being of a company. Every industry has regulations and standards that must be complied with. In line with this, some Compliance Officers focus on a specific industry or department, such as environmental or corporate compliance. As a Compliance Officer, you are responsible for establishing standards and implementing procedures to ensure compliance programmes effectively identify and prevent non-compliance.

Our research on FTSE 250 companies showed the importance of the role. We found that, on average, an individual compliance officer may be entrusted with the data of a staggering 14,315 people and businesses. This calculation is derived from each company's total number of employees, customers, and/or clients.

This is why effective compliance officers must take time to understand their company, examine its policies and procedures, ensure compliance with the law, communicate clearly with superiors and staff and safeguard the company and its staff.

Keeping your finger on the pulse is important, as regulations constantly change. For instance, the European Banking Authority (EBA) has published its guidelines on policies and procedures relating to compliance management relating to the role of an AML/CTF compliance officer.


Grasping compliance legislation

As a new compliance officer, it is essential to arm yourself with knowledge of the key compliance legislation. This is not only valuable, it is essential for you to carry out your role as an effective compliance officer.

Here's a list of key regulations that define the corporate compliance landscape:

  • 6MLD/6AMLD/AMLD6 (2018)
  • Bribery Act (2010)
  • Competition Act (1998)
  • Criminal Finances Act (2017)
  • Data Protection Act (2018)
  • Equality Act (2010)
  • Environment Act (2021)
  • Fraud Act (2006)
  • GDPR (2018)
  • Market Abuse Regulation (2016)
  • Modern Slavery Act (2015)
  • RIDDOR (1995)
  • UK GDPR (2021)
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992)

Our compliance legislation page has a comprehensive list of other key regulatory obligations.

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Understanding policies & processes

Company policies and procedures aim to protect the company from breaching regulations. It is important to ensure that the company has the necessary policies in place. As a first step, assess the current policies that a company has and then fill in the gaps. Mandatory policies include:

  • Disciplinary Procedure – all employees must be provided with a contract/statement of the particulars of their employment within a month of their employment. This document is required under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Act requires that there is a reference to any disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures within this section 1 document. The disciplinary policy will set out the proper, fair procedure which will be followed in instances of disciplinary action, which is central to the law on unfair dismissal.
  • Grievance Procedure – As above, the ERA 1996 requires that a company references their grievance procedure in the section 1 statement provided to employees. The grievance procedure provides a clear mechanism for raising complaints formally. Having the policy not only ensures you’ve complied with your legal obligation but also sets out clear ways for your employees to communicate complaints and concerns and how the company will handle them.
  • Health & Safety – this is mandatory if you have more than five employees. The policy has the aim of protecting workers from harm while at work. This includes protection from physical harm as well as from potential health complications resulting from their work. Having the policy in place has moral benefits whilst also protecting an employer from a financial and legal point of view.

Skillcast offers an online Policy Hub tool that enables you to create, update, approve, communicate and seek attestation for your corporate policies. The tool allows you to demonstrate compliance with both UK and international regulations easily.

Policy Hub

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How to conduct a compliance audit

As a compliance officer, you will need to conduct compliance audits with your team, especially at the outset. There are a few points that are essential to consider in the process:

  • Deciding who will perform the audit
  • Conducting the initial planning
  • Meeting with key stakeholders
  • Evaluating existing processes & controls
  • Assessing risks
  • Analysing operations & confirm information
  • Considering external resources needed

Free Compliance Audit Checklist

Meeting regulatory requirements involves compliance training.

Skillcast Essentials Library includes over 100 e-learning and microlearning courses that cover key compliance and conduct issues facing companies in the UK.

Compliance Essentials E-learning Courses

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Learning the compliance jargon

The regulatory landscape is ever-changing. Knowing the terms and acronyms which are frequently thrown around will be useful for settling into the compliance domain and keeping up with the constant shifts in regulations.

We have divided our compliance glossary into topics for ease of navigation:

We also have a list of searchable acronyms to help get a handle on the numerous compliance abbreviations.

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Skills every compliance officer needs

As a new compliance officer, it is valuable to hone in on the traits that will help you execute your role to the best of your ability. There are five key characteristics that every compliance officer should have to perform their tasks efficiently. Compliance officers need to:

  1. Be able to connect with people to ensure people are more likely to seek your advice and trust you with compliance matters.
  2. Understand where you fit into the big picture which will better equip you to build compliance programmes with the necessary message.
  3. Be effective problem-solvers as you are met with problems every day where the answer isn't straightforward.
  4. Show empathy which will help prevent the alienation of compliance from the rest of the business.
  5. Have the ability to work closely with others to effectively aid other departments in meeting their compliance goals.
  6. Be proactive so that you stay on top of the changes, ensure everyone completes their training, and you can take action if you spot a red flag.

Best compliance practices

If you'd like to stay up to date with compliance best practices, industry insights and key trends across regulatory compliance, digital learning, EdTech, and RegTech news, subscribe to the Skillcast Compliance Bulletin

Top 10 Compliance Challenges

Entering 2023, we continue to battle some of the headwinds from the pandemic – notably the Great Resignation, talent shortages, and mental health issues.

Compliance Challenges 2024

Top 10 Compliance Books

Given the importance of governance, risk management and compliance in the modern workplace, managers in all departments, not just those in compliance or HR, can benefit from reading our selection of the best compliance books.

Top 10 Compliance Books

Key Compliance Officer Skills

As regulators continue to clamp down on misconduct with higher fines, compliance officers are under even greater pressure to prevent unethical conduct.

Key Compliance Officer Skills

Compliance Fines & Settlements

Even companies with well-trained staff and thorough compliance processes may get caught off guard. And sometimes breaches aren't accidental! We track penalties across key areas of compliance, from AML, bribery and competition law to GDPR.

Compliance Fines & Settlements

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Free compliance resources

We offer over 100+ free compliance training aids, including presentations, desk aids, posters and e-learning modules that you can use to help train your staff.

Managing Key Compliance Challenges

Those working within compliance in the UK face more challenges now than ever before. Our eBook examines 15 of the key challenges facing compliance professionals to help you manage them more effectively.

Free Compliance Challenges eBook

How to Create a Compliance Culture

Our eBook aims to address some of the key challenges surrounding the quest for 100% compliance so that you can begin taking reasonable steps to implement a culture of compliance.

Free Compliance Culture eBook

Learning Styles Self-assessment

Providing quality training and development opportunities is one way to improve employee engagement. We have created a self-assessment to help you identify which learning approach would best suit your employees.

Learning Styles Self-Assessment

Proving Compliance ROI Webinar

In this webinar, we show how you can improve the ROI of compliance spending and demonstrate this to your management.

Proving Compliance ROI Webinar

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Compliance Bulletin

Compliance Bulletin

Our monthly email provides best practices, expert opinions, industry insights, news and key trends in regulatory compliance training, digital learning, EdTech and RegTech.