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Hiring Chief Compliance Officers: 4 Search Parameters To Define



Companies are hiring compliance officers more than ever before, including those at the highest level. J.P.Morgan has been leading the charge, adding approximately 5,000 risk and compliance officials as a result of spending more than $17 billion on legal fees since 2008.

Top compliance officers, including the Chief Compliance Officer, command top dollar and are becoming increasingly influential in the direction of the company. That means the most qualified candidates are receiving numerous job offers. Your company needs to manage the search at every level to attract the best ones.

Before you contact anyone, here are four search parameters you need to define.

1. Expectations

A well-written job description is key to attracting an impressive slate of candidates. Meet with key stakeholders to ensure everyone agrees on the scope and purpose of the position. Your team should identify how the CCO will work with each department and with regulators. You should also describe key competencies, objectives and how performance will be measured. If the hiring team is not in agreement on all fronts before the interviews begin, your company can send the wrong message to candidates.

2. Search criteria

You may not find your next CCO within your city or even within a compliance department. He or she might be in a legal, auditing or human resources department. He or she might also be moving up the ranks, so you should consider more than the title. Ask for recommendations from your professional networks here. Work with compliance organizations, such as the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, or industry-specific associations such as the Health Care Compliance Association, to identify active professionals.

3. Your approach to diversity

If you’re serious about recruiting diverse candidates, you need to be proactive. Start with a search committee that includes members of underrepresented groups. Don’t overlook recommendations from your staff. Ask your employees who they know who may be qualified, and take the initiative to contact them. Pay attention to candidates who are speaking at conferences and active in discussion groups on LinkedIn. If you haven’t already, make diversity a company-wide initiative.

You can do this by promoting the achievements of diverse team members and demonstrating a commitment to seeking men and women of all ethnicities. You want to attract top diverse candidates by sincerity, not by putting on a show. Don’t rattle off statistics about how many women and minorities you’ve hired if they aren’t in key roles. Today’s candidates will see right through a façade. Remember, they’re researching you just as much as you’re researching them. Assume they’re searching your company online and talking to others who have had experience with it. Tell your company’s story, but make sure it’s backed by action.

4. The opportunity

Never assume yours is the only offer. The candidates that catch your attention are likely being courted by several other companies, including your competition. Be clear about what sets your company apart. Talk about the mission, values and opportunities available before you start talking about the compensation package. Make it clear you’re looking for a leader who will work closely with the C-suite to drive the company’s strategy. Tell candidates what your company can offer to help them succeed, including mentoring, continuing education and career planning. Instead of focusing on what you want, let the candidates know what’s in it for them.

Hiring chief compliance officers begins with a well-executed search plan, but that’s only the first step. As you move through the process, you’ll need to consider techniques for evaluating compliance candidates, including specific questions designed to reveal the character traits you desire most. A legal recruiting firm with expertise in compliance can be instrumental to this process, relying on its thoroughly tested assessment tactics and established connections.

For more advice on the rest of the process, including assessing compliance candidates and making offers, download our free eBook “8 Steps to Recruiting and Retaining Your Next CCO.”

Topics: Recruiting   |   Compliance


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