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Better compliance management skills needed

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In an increasingly regulated and complicated business environment, all companies and corporations need some level of compliance management to help them manage risk, operate within the law, and maintain a positive reputation.
“Consequently, there is an increasing demand for full-time compliance managers in all sorts of organisations and disciplines, including accounting and banking, healthcare, quality assurance, human resources and even social enterprises,” says Ryan O’Mahoney, chief marketing officer of leading online education company GetSmarter.
“The earnings potential is also very high for graduates who then add specialist training, such as our Compliance Management online short course.”
Essentially, the role of a compliance manager is to identify the laws, codes of conduct and professional or industry standards that are applicable to their organisations; to evaluate, improve and monitor the internal levels of compliance and to identify and quickly rectify any breaches that could put the organisation at risk, he says.
“It is not, however, a dry and dusty back-office discipline. It is a dynamic and demanding career for people who want to play a vital role in how their organisations are managed and run, in both ethical and practical terms.”
O’Mahoney says the first responsibility of a compliance manager is to understand the specific environment their organisation operates in and ensure that it is currently compliant with all relevant legislation and industry practices.
If it is not, the next step is to work with the owners or directors to bring it in line and set goals for maintaining compliance and minimising risk, while also considering the organisation’s long-term aims and strategies.
“In addition, the compliance manager may need to set up new training, monitoring and reporting systems for both managers and employees, and ensure that there are plans in place to deal fairly and efficiently with any compliance breaches that occur — before the integrity and reputation of the organisation can be damaged.”
At the same time, he notes, compliance managers must keep up-to-date with any changes to legislation or industry practices that could affect their organisation and if necessary, adjust their internal measures to mitigate any possible risk from these changes.
“In short, compliance managers need to be smart, diligent, innovative and excellent communicators at all levels. They should also be prepared to shoulder a lot of responsibility and stand by difficult decisions if necessary.”
Although the requirements for becoming a compliance manager vary from country to country, there is currently no specific qualification that can be studied at a tertiary level. The starting place is usually a bachelor’s degree or post graduate qualification in accounting, legal studies or business administration, followed by several years of business experience.
In South Africa, completing specific compliance courses opens the door to being recognised as a compliance manager by industry bodies such as the Compliance Institute of Southern Africa (CISA). The institute endorses the UCT Compliance Management online short course offered by GetSmarter and on completion of the course, our students gain CISA membership.