How to Become a Banking Compliance Officer

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a banking compliance officer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in regulatory management.

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Banking Compliance Officer Overview

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Finance, economics, accounting, or related field
Experience 3-5 years experience with compliance regulatory projects, investment banking, or financial management
Key Skills Good eye for detail; exceptional math, leadership, communication, and writing skills; ability to use compliance, financial analysis, and project management software; familiarity with financial industry technology and security systems; possible travel
Salary (2018) $80,180 (median for all financial examiners)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job postings, O*Net Online.

Also known as financial examiners, banking compliance officers verify that banks and lenders follow state and federal guidelines for loans and other financial actions. They spend a large amount of their time reviewing documents and reports, such as loan documents, daily balance sheets, bank expense accounts and operating income fluctuations. These officers help ensure that banks comply with all the rules of governing financial industries and that customers are protected against fraudulent loan practices. Travel might be required.

Banking compliance officers need exceptional math skills, an eye for detail and strong writing skills. They also must exhibit leadership and communication skills and an ability to navigate field-specific technology, such as compliance, financial analysis and project management software. Additionally, they need to be familiar with financial industry technology and security systems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that financial examiners earned a mean annual salary of $80,180 as of May 2018.

Let's look at the steps involved to become a banking compliance officer.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Generally, banking compliance officers need at least a bachelor's degree for employment, although some states and government agencies require employees to complete specific training or earn an advanced degree. Common majors include economics, finance and accounting. Bachelor's degree programs in finance usually cover such topics as investments, financial markets, financial policies and financial management.

Many bachelor's degree programs in finance offer students opportunities to complete internships during normal semesters or during summer breaks. Students who want to become banking compliance officers might want to complete internships specifically at banks as opposed to business firms or other financial departments. However, internships with federal government agencies might provide useful training for learning about federal financial policies and regulations.

Step 2: Meet Training Requirements

Professionals who work for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) often require specific academic training. For example, the FDIC often prefers candidates who have completed several courses in accounting. Not all banking compliance officers work for the FDIC, but additional training in accounting might impress multiple employers.

Step 3: Learn Industry Regulations and Policies

Candidates for banking compliance officer jobs need thorough knowledge of financial regulations and policies, such as regulations from the Federal Reserve Act and anti-money-laundering policies. Financial regulations do change from time to time, so individuals going into this profession are expected to keep up with these changes by attending training seminars or continuing education classes.

Step 4: Complete On-The-Job Training

Newly hired banking compliance officers often go through initial training sessions that might last about a month, although some on-the-job training may take up to a year to complete. During training, individuals learn about common job duties from more experienced compliance officers. Each financial agency has different in-house policies and procedures, and new hires often learn this information during initial training sessions.

Step 5: Build Experience

Employers typically look for banking compliance officers with extensive experience in the industry, including experience managing projects, reviewing investment portfolios and working with the banking regulatory system. Entry-level financial examiners might work as assistants to more experienced banking compliance officers. Professionals can also build related banking experience in areas such as financial risk management or investment planning.

Step 6: Pursue Advanced Education

Although it's not necessarily required to earn a master's degree for this career, many job advancement opportunities are contingent upon individuals holding graduate degrees. The majority of financial professionals who pursue graduate-level training earn master's degrees in business or accounting.

In summary, a banking compliance officer needs at least a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field, coupled with experience in the industry. A master's degree in business or accounting might be needed for advanced positions.

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