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A Roadmap to Building a Successful Compliance Career

A Roadmap to Building a Successful Compliance Career

10 July 2023

Let's demystify the process for you, focusing on the whole lifecycle, from your initial foot in the door to the top of the tree, such as holding a named role like a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO), Money Laundering Compliance Officer (MLCO) or Head of Compliance.

Taking the First Step

Your first leap into the compliance field may come from earning a relevant qualification or working in a role that has touch points with compliance regulations. From an educational starting point this could be a degree in law, business, finance, or a similar discipline. However, a degree isn't always necessary, especially if you possess strong analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. You may work within finance or even estate agency and have experience, in non-compliance roles or touch points with compliance regulations which inspire you to move into the compliance profession.

All of these areas can contribute greatly to your understanding of business processes, legal frameworks, and risk management.

Further Qualifications: The ICA Route

Once you've gained some exposure, obtaining a specialised compliance qualification, such as those offered by the International Compliance Association (ICA), can significantly enhance your career prospects. Qualifications range from certificates for beginners to advanced diplomas for experienced professionals. They provide practical knowledge about regulatory requirements, compliance frameworks, and risk management strategies. Importantly, ICA qualifications are internationally recognised, thus broadening your career prospects. A great starting point is the ICA Certificate in Compliance, which can be done entirely online.

Compliance Consultancy vs. In-House Role

After earning your stripes, you'll have the opportunity to choose between a compliance consultancy or an in-house role. Working for a consultancy like Redwood provides a diverse and engaging experience. You'll work with various clients, each with unique regulatory challenges, and the projects will be ever-changing, which sharpens your problem-solving and adaptability skills. Moreover, the collaborative environment enables continuous learning from a pool of expert colleagues.

On the other hand, an in-house compliance role offers deeper industry-specific knowledge. You'll have the chance to understand the ins and outs of a specific business, thereby honing your skills in creating tailored compliance solutions. You can forge long-term relationships with your colleagues and have a direct influence on the firm's compliance culture.

The Road to Leadership

As you gain experience, you'll ascend through the ranks towards senior compliance roles, such as the MLRO or MLCO or even Head of Compliance. These positions come with significant responsibility, ensuring the organisation stays on the right side of regulations and maintaining a robust compliance culture.

To reach these positions, you'll need a strong record of accomplishment in delivering compliance solutions, exceptional leadership skills being able to lead and mentor a compliance team and a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape. Continuous learning is key here, as regulations frequently change and it's vital to stay abreast of the latest developments.

Final thoughts

A career in compliance offers a stimulating and varied journey. Regardless of whether you opt for an in-house role or work for a consultancy like Redwood, the opportunities for personal and professional growth are vast. Remember, success in compliance is not just about qualifications and experience. It also hinges on your passion for integrity, dedication to continuous learning, and the resilience to navigate an ever-evolving regulatory environment. Embrace these qualities, and the journey from graduate to top-tier compliance professional can be yours for the taking. Looking for a challenging role in compliance, why not reach out to us? Send an email to

Embarking on a career in compliance presents a dynamic and rewarding journey in today's corporate environment. Whether you choose to work in-house for a firm or for a compliance consultancy like Redwood, the road can be challenging yet incredibly fruitful.

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