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Responsibilities for compliance officers can range from monitoring activities across an entire organization to focusing on a specific business unit, which is often the case in larger international firms. (Shutterstock/REDPIXEL.PL)

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Compliance officers are in demand more than ever, as companies look for experts to help navigate complex regulations and mitigate risk

Financial services sector leads in job growth with wide range of professional training options available

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Take an increasingly globalized business landscape, combine it with ever-changing regulatory standards and what do you get? Risk—and opportunity.

With changes such as Brexit and the recently activated GDPR, companies need to understand every rule down to the finest detail and ensure they are playing by them, both regionally and internationally. And they need experts to help them do so. In other words, it’s a good time to be a compliance officer.

Michael French, regional manager for international staffing firm Robert Half Management Resources, says that compliance-related roles are growing on a global scale and the Canadian market is no exception, with the financial services sector leading the way.

“In Toronto and Vancouver, financial services and lending are still dominating the compliance function out of the nature of the business, both from the demand and growth standpoints,” says French. “Many financial services firms have moved this role from being a traditionally back-office function to a higher priority role.”

Responsibilities can range from monitoring activities across an entire organization to focusing on a specific business unit, which is often the case in larger international firms. But what about those who want to venture beyond the world of finance?

“In Alberta, especially, these compliance professionals are more sought after in the tech industry as IT startups move into the province resulting in increased demand for auditors in this sector,” says French. “And in areas like Ottawa, we’re seeing a lot in terms of risk management demand, more so for individuals who can manage mitigating risk within a business by integrating an entire risk management strategy. We’re seeing an uptick in demand for these professionals particularly in the not-for-profit realm.”

Compliance skills and training

Accounting, business, finance and law are widely recognized as good foundational backgrounds for getting into compliance.

For global roles, companies may expect candidates to hold a Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential and a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) accreditation. Within Canada, especially in the financial services sector, recent job postings often mention professional training certification offered by the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI).

The Canadian Securities Course at CSI provides an overview of the securities industry, working with clients and the various types of firms and products. “It’s also a licensing course so if you want to be an investment advisor it’s one of the courses you have to take,” adds Marshall Beyer, CSI’s senior director of Credentials & Licensing Strategy.

CSI offers a range of professional training and certification courses for all experience levels and they update their programs at least once a year to stay on top of any industry or regulatory changes.

Beyer says that over the past 10 years there’s been a dramatic shift in the compliance space, not only a growth in the number of jobs, but also their prominence.

“At one time, compliance professionals were only known as the people who said ‘no’ a lot,” he says. “Now they’ve become more like a business partner working in an advisory role with the people making business decisions.”


Public accountants are often asked to provide assurance on an entity’s compliance with statutes, regulations and agreements. The Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AASB) issued two new compliance reporting standards that are effective for reports dated on or after April 1, 2019.