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There are many different sectors within the financial services industry, including banking, insurance, investment management and securities, containing a vast network of financial institutions, which offer a multitude of financial services and products. These organisations and sectors combine to form the UK financial system, facilitating the movement of capital and currency around the economy, channelling money from savers to borrowers. Compliance is a term familiar to all the organisations within these sectors.

The word compliance is derived from the verb ‘to comply’, which literally means, ‘to act in accordance with the rules’. In the context of financial services, it therefore refers to the need for those organisations that transact regulated activities to abide by the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“the FSMA”) and to act in accordance with the rules of the Financial Services Authority (“the FSA”), the independent supervisory body established under the FSMA as the sole regulator of the financial services industry. Commonly, the function that is responsible for ensuring this compliance is known as the Compliance Department.

Each Compliance Department has a Compliance Officer overseeing the function. The role of the Compliance Officer is to ensure that no conflicts of interest arise within the organisation and to develop policy and practices that ensure all obligations and regulations are adhered to. This person, too, is responsible for maintaining the organisation’s relationship with the FSA.

For some organisations, there are also the rules of other regulatory bodies to be complied with. These include bodies that have had regulatory powers conferred on them by the FSA, for example the London Stock Exchange, in its role as a Recognised Investment Exchange, and other voluntary associations, for example the General Insurance Standards Council, whose members agree to comply with a self-prescribed code of conduct.

Promoting your Wealth and Value: Believe in your ability and promote yourself to achieve maximum visibility. This is often the best way to secure internal promotion and is the first step to developing a valuable network.

Commercial Acumen: Having secured your first role and regardless of how detached you feel from the decision making process, focus on developing your understanding of the key challenges facing the business. This will give you a head start in securing a more commercial role in the future.