Over the past 12 to 18 months, we
spent a lot of time talking to compliance officers who had either been
terminated or were in danger of termination. We also spent time talking to
headhunters looking to fill positions that had been abruptly vacated. We wondered
if this career turbulence was due to a black cloud over our circle of
acquaintances or if the market had truly turned harsh.
To answer to this question, we
administered a survey to our entire email list with the promise that we would
report the main results to you. More than half of our list members who opened
the survey responded giving us reasonable confidence in the results.
This is the report of the results
of the survey.
After each result, there is brief commentary on the result.
1. How long have you been employed by your current
organization in a compliance position?
less than 3 years 24%
3 to 7 years 33%
more than 7 years 43%
Of respondents, 76% were employed
by their current organization in a compliance position for more than three
years. Even 5 years ago, you could not have expected such a result, which
indicates that the field of compliance is maturing.
2. As best you can estimate, the highest level compliance
position in your organization is:
Executive/Senior Vice President 32%
Vice President 34%
If you make the assumption that
the top compliance position at an organizations should be at least at the Vice
President level, then 66% of respondents
indicate that the level of the
top compliance position in their organization is appropriate.
3. Have you ever been fired from or forced out of a
While there is no baseline
reference point this topic, 15% is a significant number of compliance
professionals who have left their organizations under adverse circumstances.
Remember that this is not just left the organization; it is fired or forced
4. I think my job is:
Very Secure 33%
Somewhat Secure 54%
13% of respondents think their
job is insecure, with 67% believing that there is at least some level of
insecurity in their positions. While some respondents in the "somewhat
secure" category noted that there is a certain amount of job insecurity in
general, most comments pointed to specific reasons for the perceived
5. Have you ever investigated a compliance complaint against
member of senior management?
A majority of compliance professional respondents have
investigated complaints against senior management.
6. If you answered yes to the preceding questions, what
happened when you did so.
The problem was resolved to your satisfaction. 67%
I had to leave the organization. 16%
I stayed but was uncomfortable.
I voluntarily changed employers. 4%
Of those who investigated complaints against senior
management, 33% experienced adverse consequences for doing so.
7. Have you ever considered becoming a whistle blower?
A surprisingly high 21% of
responding compliance professionals have considered becoming whistle blowers.
While the open comments indicate that not all compliance professionals
considering blowing the whistle are thinking of a False Claims Act lawsuit,
My reading of these results is
that there is a surprising amount of perceived job insecurity among compliance
professionals. The inherent frustrations of the position are indicated by the
number of respondents who have considered blowing the whistle on their
organizations. It is time for compliance professionals to take seriously the
idea that their employment should either be at the discretion of the board
and/or protected under a multi-year contract.
Copyright 2013, Mark Pastin