Given the buoyancy of regulation within the UK, there are considerable opportunities for those with experience and expertise and, in the case of the financial sector, significant openings for new and recent graduates who are already committed to a career in regulation.
Specialisation is possible at all stages, and it is relatively easy to transfer from one type of organisation to another, for example starting in a compliance role in a bank and then moving to the FCA or PRA, or vice versa.
If you're looking to gain experience
In the financial sector, both the FCA and PRA run penultimate year internship programmes, which can lead to permanent opportunities.
If you’re early in your career
While the financial sector certainly offers the greatest number of direct entry and experienced roles, other sectors also offer opportunities to new graduates as well as experienced professionals with specific sector expertise.
The FCA and PRA run training schemes open to new and recent graduates of any discipline. You will also find dedicated graduate schemes in compliance within investment banks. Some risk management roles will also include compliance work.
A common entry point is that of trainee auditor, either in an in-house role, e.g. internal auditor within a company, or more typically as a trainee with a professional services firm. As well as working and training ‘on the job’ you will be expected to complete a professional qualification, typically through the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Many accountancy firms recruit graduates of any discipline into such roles, though will test numerical ability as part of their recruitment process.
Certain banks and financial institutions will include a rotation in compliance as part of their general trainee scheme.
Graduate training schemes also exist within other bodies and agencies, including, Ofcom, Ofgem and Thames Water. All are open to graduates from a range of disciplines.
If you have more experience
Employers look for knowledge and understanding of the regulatory frameworks that apply to their sector, or a motivation to learn them, as well as broader knowledge of and interest in the relevant sector. They also highlight the importance of strong professional integrity and credibility, analytical skills, problem solving skills, persistence and excellent communications skills.
Professionals interested in regulation will often focus first on gaining experience, developing specialised sector or technical knowledge and potentially acquiring professional qualifications, before moving into a regulatory role. Many of those in senior roles are qualified lawyers or have a legal background as well as specific industry expertise.
If you’re changing career
While sideways moves are feasible, it would be difficult to make an abrupt change into regulation without some combination of sector expertise or regulatory experience. Lawson Chase provides an interesting blog post on how to get into compliance with little or no experience.
Not sure what to do next?
We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.