This weekend I was home visiting family for Easter and I had a nice conversation with my dad about what I actually do for a living. He’s always had a general idea of course, but he didn’t know a lot of details. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though, as it is a bit complicated. In fact, it’s probably likely that others in your credit union don’t have a clear understanding of all the activities you do on a daily basis to protect the institution. Hopefully, they at least understand how compliance impacts their individual roles, and the procedures they need to follow in order to remain in compliance.
My dad asked me how a person develops a skill in compliance (I’m not sure if he meant “a person,” or if he was asking how his own farm-raised, dirt bike racing, goofball of a son developed this skill). I had to think about my response a bit. It’s actually an interesting mix of research and personal experience. The most successful compliance officers have a good mix of each. A thorough understanding of the regulations isn’t necessarily that helpful if there is a lack of operational understanding. And, the ability to assist with an audit only accomplishes so much, if there is an inability to implement corrective action for any findings.
But, one of the more complex pieces of this recipe is the amount of change one encounters in the field of compliance. Change is most definitely a constant in our chosen profession. The credit union’s products change, staff turns over, new rules are written and old rules are revised. Change is initiated internally, or externally based upon economic conditions, or even a new government administration.
If you happen to be the type of person that relishes consistency and following a similar process day-in and day-out, compliance may be a challenge for you. But, if you enjoy change and continual growth, compliance might be right up your alley.
Because of the constant change, the most effective compliance officers are self-motivated individuals. They pro-actively stay abreast of changes internally at the credit union and within the industry. They maintain a knowledge of regulatory priorities, examiner expectations, and supervisory guidance and interpretations. They strive to remain effective on an ever-changing battlefield.
Maybe my dad gained some insight from our discussion. The work ethic he instilled in me growing up on our farm, and the pro-active effort I put into an individual sport like motocross are very applicable to my chosen profession. And the sense of humor? Well, if you’re a compliance officer, you can probably understand the need for that as well!