Bank Compliance Officer Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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A bank compliance officer earns an annual average salary of about $86,000. Is it worth the education and training requirements? See real job duties and get the facts about this career to see if becoming a bank compliance officer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Bank Compliance Officer Career

A bank compliance officer monitors the activities of a financial institution to see if its activities comply with federal regulations. Check out the following pros and cons to see if this career would be a good fit for you.

Pros of a Bank Compliance Officer
Average annual salary of $86,000*
Slower than average job growth between 2012 and 2022*
Relative independence while reporting to senior staff**
Maintain ethical banking practices**

Cons of a Bank Compliance Officer
Must maintain current knowledge of government regulations**
Several years of banking experience and a bachelor degree are needed**
Heavily quantitative by analyzing financial information**
Detail-oriented**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online.

Essential Career Info

A banking compliance officer falls under the occupational classification of financial examiners. A financial examiner, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), checks a financial institution to see if it is following financial regulations (www.bls.gov). In terms of bank compliance officers, they specifically monitor a bank's financial practices, lending, record-keeping and transactions. The BLS noted that all financial examiners, including bank compliance officers, should experience slower than average growth rates between 2012 and 2022.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, financial examiners earned an annual average salary of close to $87,000 in May 2014. The top 10% made about $146,000 a year, while the bottom 10% earned nearly $44,000, the BLS noted.

Education Requirements

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work as a bank compliance officer. Your degree major should include some business-related courses including financing, accounting and economics. According to the BLS, companies may offer on-the-job-training for new compliance officers. You'll need to develop a strong understanding of federal and state banking regulations relating, and have experience with internal and external audits. You may need several years of experience in bank compliance before seeking a compliance officer position.

What Do Employers Look for?

According to March 2012 job postings, some employers seek a banking compliance officer who will structure and correctly enforce federal banking regulations. These officers protect the institutions from engaging in wrongful actions that could put these companies at risk. Compliance officers need to clearly interpret concise regulations and ensure a financial institution adheres to them. Here are recent job postings for bank compliance officers:

  • A bank in Los Angeles needs a compliance officer to structure mortgage rules for a financial institution. The job ensures that mortgage lenders follow state and federal regulations correctly, while also conducting intern audits to see if finances are calculated correctly. This job requires a bachelor degree and three years of experience in banking compliance.
  • A bank in Indiana needs a compliance officer to regularly audit the internal actions of the bank. This position also provides detailed analysis to senior management about the bank's functions as well as about proposed actions for investments and federal compliance. Job candidates need a bachelor's degree and about seven years of experience.
  • A bank in Chicago, IL, needs a compliance officer with a bachelor's degree and preferably seven years of banking experience. This position will critically analyze all transactions coming from the bank as well as answer any inquiry the bank receives from the federal government.

How to Beat the Competition

Bank compliance officers usually need several years of experience in banking. Along with a bachelor's degree, you may want to seek voluntary certifications to stand out in a competitive job market. There are many industry and banking associations that offer professional credentials that help verify your knowledge and skills in a particular aspect of financial regulations. The National Futures Association (NFA), for example, provides certification for individuals who monitor the sales of futures and ensures these sales comply with banking regulations (www.nfa.futures.org). Possessing certifications may help with employment opportunities at certain banks.

Another way to stand out is to learn more about government regulations in the banking industry. A compliance officer's duty is to ensure a financial institution is following government rules and regulations. You may want to take seminars or enroll in programs related to public policy regarding the banking industry.

Other Careers to Consider

Budget Analyst

Compliance officers usually have strong analytical and quantitative skills, which are also found in other occupations, including budget analysts. While similar to bank compliance officers, budget analysts focus on the fiscal aspect of a bank and not on federal regulations. A budget analyst examines a company's budget and verifies its accuracy. He or she reports their findings about the company's relative fiscal health to senior managers.

Accountant

Another career requiring similar skills to a bank compliance officer is an accountant. Accountants report and record all financial activity of a company using an accounting database. For example, any debit or credit transaction at a company must be recorded by an accountant so it can be tracked in the company's profits and losses.

Unlike a bank compliance officer, an accountant position is heavily quantitative, requires an immense attention to detail. Accountants also have different certification and licensure policies, according to the BLS. As an accountant, you'll also enforce federal regulations and reporting any discrepancies or concerns about a company's financial performance to senior management.

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