Mentoring Compliance Professionals


By Roy Snell

Our profession came out of nowhere. Most of us were selected with no prior experience or education.  It’s a very challenging job. Some companies that are hiring people in our profession have no prior experience in hiring compliance and ethics professionals. The best of us are underestimating the need for strong interpersonal skills, and we are over emphasizing the technical skills. We have very few colleges cranking out people with college degrees in our field. We have a ways to go before our profession will be up to par with professions that have been around for 100 years from an experience and credibility standpoint.

In the interim, there is something we can all do to help. Call someone you know who could use a little mentoring. Call today. Call again in a week or two. Don’t wait for someone to match you up. It doesn’t work that way. Pick someone you would enjoy working with. Pick someone who is a “personality match.” Pick someone you think has potential. Pick someone you would be proud to say you helped. Ask them how they are doing. Think about what they need help with and send them an article or a link to a website. Tell them where you received your best compliance and ethics training. Encourage them to be involved in and hang out with the profession. Go onto social media and answer a few questions or make a comment about something you recently discovered. Write an article or blog post. Speak at a conference.  Or better yet, invite your mentee to co-present or co-author a post or article. We don’t need much of your time. We just need a little bit of time from a lot of people.

If ever there was a time and a place for mentoring, the emerging compliance and ethics profession is it. We are unique because we have come out of nowhere to a near C-suite level job. It’s exciting, but it comes with challenges. Our profession needs credibility, maybe more than most. The sooner our profession gets “up to speed,” the sooner we can get to the place we need to be. And the more we all help each other, the sooner we get there. Our colleagues need ideas, help, and encouragement. Anyone who has been around for five or more years can find someone who is traveling just a tad behind and reach back to give them a helping hand.

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  1. Good Morning Roy – You hit the nail on the head with this piece. I am always happy to reach out, discuss and network with anyone who can use a helping hand. Thanks for publishing this today.

  2. Thank you for the friendly reminder. We’ve all needed someone and we all have time to give to someone. Our profession is exciting and challenging and I’m happy to help any way I can. I’m here!

  3. Spot on! I would have given my eye teeth for someone to have reached out to me when I first started in Compliance 11 years ago — it was a lonely spot to be.
    Thanks for the nudge, Roy!

  4. Started as Compliance before 13 years – from nowhere in a country that introduces such profession in banking sector in 2008 and even now we don’t have Compliance professionals as should a Compliance be. You HIT it.

  5. Thanks for the comments. And thank you all even more for putting yourself out there for others. This is the most helpful profession I have ever been a part of.

  6. Roy, I have identified the same issue. Although there are plenty of technical resources out there, a Compliance Officer with no experience can drown in the politics and operations when the role is new to them. The ‘how to’ of compliance is daunting to one with no experience, especially if trouble strikes. In working with new Compliance Officers, I have found that the actual mentoring or coaching that relates to the process of just doing the job is what newbies find most valuable. I would wholeheartedly echo your observations, and encourage all those new Compliance Officers to be comfortable reaching out to us ‘oldies’, as well! Those of us who have survived in the trenches are usually more than happy to help a newcomer.

  7. I need a mentor – I know what I am doing is not compliance, but have a brick wall that I am up against. I feel like administration does not want to give up some of the jobs that I should be doing or when hired they told me they want me to look at policies and procedures, but now having someone else do it. Frustrating!

  8. Roy, what a great message It is difficult to break into compliance and being able to establish mentor/mentee relatioinships or mentoring circles ( i.e., one leader creates a circle where she/he mentors a specified number of individuals informally. They form a circle focused on discusssions chosen topics selected by the leader and/or group in person or virtually and meet at a frequency agreed upon.).

    It would be great if the SCCE could create a place on the website where mentors can be matched with or be invited by mentees to become a formal mentor. Like Denise, I would love to be paired with a more experienced compliance professional to learn from and bounce around ideas on how to overcome challenges.

  9. A compliance professional is often guided by her high sense of integrity and accountability also being able to defend what she or he does. I find that identifying a role model within the organization helps a whole lot to discuss and share ideas. Not only to talk about challenges. Do your bit and share at meetings or via intranet where applicable. Someone will notice even if you are not given the role directly and try never to discount what the other person does. Compliance monitoring is about information and team work so you need to be in the loop.

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