The eight essential skills of a compliance professional


In more than twelve years working with internal Control, Compliance , Governance and Risk Management Consulting, I have observed that not methodologes, but mainly people make the difference in the construction and development of efficient solutions.

In this sense, the following  text presents a personal, though reansoned, understanding of the main skills that every compliance professional, regardless his or her experience, it must develop to meet the profession challenges:

  • Effective Communication;
  • Intergrity;
  • Understanding the company´s beliefs and business;
  • Knowledge of the most effective tools and methodologies;
  • Attitude for contínuos learning; 
  • Knowledge and update on laws and regulations;
  • Clear customer indentification;
  • Development of a long-term mentality;


Get to know your public and have a good workflow with the employees. The compliance professional will need to conduct internal investigations and thefore will speak to all levels of hieararchy and type of employees, from the CEO to the janitor or security guard. A great compliance professional must know how to translate and deliver key messages about the company´s compliance program and thereby obtain everyone´s commitment.


People who interact with the compliance professional should feel confident that justice, ethics and common sense will prevail. Compliance professionals rely heavily on your word. A well-known American saying says that “one is only good his his / her word”, that is to say, to be a good person is not enough to speak or to make promises, must fulfill them, to make use of his word. Being integral is fundamental not only in dealing with regulators, but also in the relationship with clients, employees and the general public. International literature is unanimous in arguing that “the Compliance professional should not be the SIM Person”. On the contrary, he must know how to say no, keep his decisions and base them for the understanding of the interlocutor. This is a major challenge for many professionals, especially the less experienced, and often ambitious, professionals who are entering the Compliance career every day. Finally, independent and impartial councils are extremely important in ensuring the integrity of a respected professional.


The Compliance professional must know the company’s culture, its business and operations and know what motivates the employees, from the highest hierarchy of the organization to the factory floor. With this information in mind, it will be able to propose and implement measures that effectively address the key issues identified without affecting the company’s profitability and operations. This ability is key to translating to business owners the importance of complying with laws and regulations, showing how a contrary attitude can affect profitability in the future. In other words, less exposure to risk means spending less and generating more result to distribute to shareholders and employees.


Information and organization are critical to the success of a Compliance professional. To be a good project leader, the Compliance professional must have methods to keep track of team work, identify key issues that must be addressed, and create a useful database for future projects. Using Compliance software and other tools may also be important. When dealing with a large team, a good professional should be able to identify the main risks of a corporation and design a Compliance Program that will handle them properly. The permanent monitoring based on methodology and tools is extremely important for the continuity of the program. This helps reduce risk and set deadlines to monitor the development of the Compliance Program.


A good Compliance professional should be up to date and constantly seek learning through experiences, be they successful or not, as failures always bring good lessons. One of the most important ways to learn new Compliance methodologies is by benchmarking exercises with competitors. A good Compliance Professional looks at what is happening in the marketplace and what your competitors are doing to extract ideas for their own Compliance Programs.


A good Compliance professional must know all the regulations applicable to the sector in which he or she operates, keeping up-to-date with the general laws on compliance and decisions of administrative and judicial bodies. If you work for a global company or on behalf of clients with global performance, the Compliance professional must also have good partners in each market of the company, who can contribute knowledge about local norms and practices. A good relationship network is essential for the Compliance professional.


A good Compliance professional should avoid identifying with those who use a corporation to pursue their personal interests. If the Compliance professional knows that an executive or any other employee is acting in their own interest and not the corporation, it is their duty to act to protect the interests of the organization, whether by reporting the case to the applicable committee or even to the Board of Directors and , as applicable, by applying educational and / or punitive measures. The Compliance professional should be able to help the company increase transparency and accountability to regulators, shareholders, and the general public.


The good Compliance professional must know how to counterbalance the short-term prospects of the organization by directing efforts to provide long-term perspectives and agendas that foster transparency, commitment and compliance. Once implemented, the long-term vision becomes a priority for the sustainability of the company.

Author: Flavio Riva