The five essential skills that every compliance officer must have

We interviewed Lyubomir Modev, Compliance Officer for the EMEA region at Ingram Micro, about compliance trends, challenges and must have skills for compliance officers.

Izgi: What are the essential skills a compliance officer must have?

Lyubomir: A compliance officer needs to be a very well-rounded professional and there are many attributes that the best in the profession must have. Technical knowledge and business acumen are among them. Apart from that, here are five essential skills that every compliance officer must have to add maximum value for their organization:

  • 1) Courage: A compliance officer must not be afraid to ask tough questions, to put problems (and solutions) on the table, to enter into conflict and to speak the painful truths that other may be avoiding.

  • 2) Integrity and Honesty: A compliance officer must provide ethical leadership and live by the values of the organization each day of her/his professional life.

  • 3) Diplomacy and negotiation skills: A compliance officer is constantly in difficult conversations - about how much time to take away from the business for training, what processes the organization need to change to mitigate risks, what disciplinary action the organization needs to take following a compliance incident. Managing to resolve these conversations through win/win scenarios is essential to being successful in the profession.

  • 4) Risk Management: The compliance officer needs to have good knowledge about risk management. The CO provides advice whether to avoid, accept, mitigate or transfer risk and to do that needs proper subject matter understanding.

  • 5) Leadership: Probably the most important one. A compliance officer needs to have the drive to develop and grow the compliance program and to be able to transfer that drive to others – including the ones at the top.

“The best compliance officers are team players, who network and connect, and who are recognized for their informal leadership and influence across their entire organization.”

Izgi: What does the future in compliance look like?

Lyubomir: I believe that the compliance profession will be moving more towards ethics and data analytics. In the future, I see the compliance program management, training and communication putting more emphasis on behaviour models, values and ethical leadership. On the other end, from a more technical perspective, I think Big Data and AI will allow to use more data analysis to detect and prevent compliance risks, including on softer risk areas - conflict of interest, for example. These are trends that are already here, but I believe they will have an increasing impact on the compliance profession in the very near future.

Izgi: What have been the main challenges for you as a first-time compliance officer?

Lyubomir: The compliance officer must be a trusted partner who enables the business and at the same time the one who hits the breaks when that is required to protect the company from financial or reputational damage. Achieving that balance and constantly maintaining it is probably the most difficult element of our job.