A compliance professional is someone who works on behalf of a business or organization to ensure that its processes and dealings conform to established laws, regulations, and industry standards. The role of a compliance professional within an organization varies according to the size of an organization as well as its specific compliance needs. Typically, a compliance professional must perform and maintain extensive research on legal and regulatory issues that affect the operations of the organization that he works for. He must also be able to work with regulators and other individuals who are involved with the development and enforcement of industry regulations and standards. In some industries, those who work in compliance may be expected to hold compliance certifications and may even be required to have a law degree.
Many industries operate under extensive, and often intricate, regulatory requirements. Examples of such industries include pharmaceuticals, financial securities, and insurance. Other industries that must often deal with a fairly significant web of laws, regulations, and standards include schools and companies that regularly import or export goods. When businesses fail to remain in compliance with these standards, there is a significant risk that they could face legal sanctions and possibly be shut down. Such businesses typically employ at least one compliance professional who is responsible for ensuring that the company operates properly within the regulatory environment.
An entry-level compliance professional may begin his career by performing basic research into requirements and standards established by law, regulatory agencies, and professional organizations that certify or accredit businesses or organizations within a particular industry. He may also take responsibility for completing compliance paperwork, such as applications for the approval of a good or service made to a regulatory or professional agency, and will also inform others within his organization of new and updated compliance standards. As the compliance worker continues in his career, he will generally make attempts to develop strong relationships with regulators and other industry leaders so as to ensure that his organization will have steady access to important compliance information. Eventually, a compliance professional may also be responsible for conducting in-house audits to ensure that his organization or company is in compliance with regulatory standards.
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The phrase compliance professional can in some instances be used to describe someone whose work is generally unrelated to regulatory compliance. The term has been used in the past to describe an individual who works as a propagandist for a particular political or social cause or on behalf of a particular industry. In such cases the term compliance does not refer to regulatory adherence, but to organizational and consumer psychology tactics that seek to influence individuals to respond in a desired way to a particular social movement, advertising campaign, or political campaign.