Mutual Fund Compliance Professionals
Education and Training Requirements
Compliance professionals need strong communication skills, so it’s a good idea to take classes in English and speech, as well as to join the debate club. They also need strong financial and business acumen (taking economics, business, and accounting classes will be useful to develop these talents), skill at using computers and knowledge of information technology (computer science, database design and management, computer security) and critical-thinking skills (social studies, history, philosophy).
Compliance professionals need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, accounting, or pre-law. For upper-level positions, some companies prefer to hire applicants with graduate degrees in the aforementioned areas, or those who have law degrees. A few colleges, such as Loyola University Chicago and the University of South Florida (USF), offer master’s degree concentrations in compliance studies or related areas. Classes in USF’s Compliance, Risk & Anti-Money Laundering concentration include Risk Management and Legal Compliance; Forensic Accounting and Legal Issues; Accounting Systems Audit, Control, and Security; Information Security and Risk Management; Law and Economics; Statistical Data Mining; International Financial Management; and Advanced Money and Capital Markets. Law schools—such as the Seton Hall Law School—are beginning to offer concentrations in compliance. The Regulatory Compliance Association’s College of Regulatory Compliance provides a law and master’s concentration in asset management practice, compliance, and regulation. The International Compliance Association offers postgraduate diplomas in governance, risk, and compliance; financial crime compliance; and other areas.
Other Education or Training
A variety of webinars, conference seminars, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by professional associations such as the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, International Compliance Association, Regulatory Compliance Association, and American Bar Association. Topics include compliance standards, policies, and procedures; communications, education, and training; ethics; and risk assessment. Contact these organizations for more information.
A few colleges offer undergraduate and graduate certificates in compliance. Typical classes in these programs focus on risk management, leadership, ethics, and accounting systems. Contact the following colleges for more information about their programs:
- Saint Louis University: https://www.slu.edu/business/centers/emerson-leadership-institute/certificate-programs/corporate-ethics-compliance-management.php
- University of South Florida: https://www.usf.edu/graduate-studies
- San Francisco State University: https://cob.sfsu.edu/graduate-programs/ethics-compliance-certificate
The International Compliance Association (https://www.int-comp.org/course-finder) offers certificates that focus on financial crime prevention, due diligence, legal compliance, business compliance, anti-money laundering, risk management, and other areas.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics’ Compliance Certification Board awards the certified compliance and ethics professional, the certified compliance and ethics professional fellow, and other credentials to those who pass a certification exam and meet educational and experience requirements. The Regulatory Compliance Association offers the chartered regulatory counsel and the certified compliance officer designations. The American Bankers Association provides the certified regulatory compliance manager credential to applicants who have at least three years of industry experience, meet the requirements for continuing education credits, and pass an examination.
Compliance managers and chief compliance officers are typically required to have their Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 24 (General Securities Principal), and Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) credentials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory arm of the investment industry. To earn these credentials, applicants must pass examinations. Some firms hire compliance professionals who do not yet have these credentials, but require them to earn them in set period of time (typically within three to six months of being hired).
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Analysts, who are typically hired right out of college, should complete a compliance-related internship or fellowship while still in school. These opportunities can be found at mutual fund companies and related employers, in the compliance department of a corporation, or at a regulator such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. Chief compliance officers (CCOs) need five to 10 years of compliance experience; at least half of this time should be in a managerial position. Some companies prefer to hire CCOs who have law degrees.
Compliance professionals need strong communication and interpersonal skills in order to interact with individuals at various levels internal and external to the company. They should be confident about their ideas, but open minded and willing to listen to other people’s opinions. Because working at a mutual fund involves a fast-paced, sometimes stressful work environment, compliance professionals need the ability to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously and remain calm under pressure. Other important traits include excellent organizational, analytical, time-management, and problem-solving skills; attention to detail; flexibility and sound business judgment; the ability to be a team player; a thorough knowledge of the mutual industry from a corporate governance, product, compliance, and administrative perspective; and specific knowledge of Securities & Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and state-level rules and regulations.