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What Is a Compliance Specialist Job?

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The field of compliance recruitment covers a large swathe of goods, services and professions. A single person can’t conceivably have a nuanced view of every regulation in relation to those fields or the microcosms within them, nor can they undertake all the reporting and advisory functions by themselves.

What Does a Compliance Specialist Do?

​The field of compliance, although comprised of some generalists, is largely populated by ‘subject matter experts’ (SMEs) or specialists. Some key titles for specialists within financial compliance departments are below:

  • Financial Crime Officers

  • Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLRO)

  • Control Room or Central Compliance Officers

  • Advisory Compliance Officers

  • Testing/Risk Assessment/Assurance Officers

  • Monitoring and Surveillance Officers

  • Know Your Customer (KYC)

  • Customer Due Diligence (CDD)

Some smaller financial institutions may only have one Compliance Officer or no Compliance Officer at all. On some occasions, the compliance function can be undertaken by the General Counsel (GC), Chief Operating Officer (COO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) without the assistance of any Compliance Officers.

For obvious reasons, the reverse is true for large financial institutions who may have compliance departments in the hundreds, who span many different continents with a large variety of specialties, including those in relation to geographically-specific expertise for locations like Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) or the US.

Many Compliance Officers in their career prefer different specialties, and the relevance of those in the market waxes and wanes with changes in regulations, technology and products. Other Compliance Officers seek to be generalists to combat this risk; this can have pitfalls of its own, as it may be harder to pitch for a job at a larger institution where subject matter expertise is required.


Jackson Baker is a Manager at Rutherford, the executive legal and compliance recruitment specialists.

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