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Compliance Risk

Compliance officers rewarded for key role

Tiffany Robertson

16 Feb 2016

REUTERS/Peter Andrews

The sharp rise in the number and severity of enforcement actions since the financial crash in 2008 means organizations must dedicate a significant proportion of their budgets to ensuring regulatory compliance.

This is reflected in the rising sums being paid to senior compliance officers, particularly those who oversee regulations in more than one country or are key to raising awareness of compliance issues across the organization.

The need for more experienced compliance professionals is increasing globally. Read Thomson Reuters latest whitepaper What’s Compliance Worth to explore how an organization’s spending pattern on compliance officers and compliance departments is shifting due to increasing regulations.

Pay rises for senior compliance officers

According to a recent survey by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Organizations (SCCE), organizations are paying significant salaries for the expertise of their compliance and ethics officers.

Results from the June 2015 survey of 831 non-healthcare respondents from the U.S. show:

  • The average salary for a chief compliance officer (CCO) managing at least a quarter of a company’s legal and regulatory risk was $150,207  with a total compensation of $179,753  up from the $139,582 average in the SCCE’s last survey in 2013;
  • CCOs who are also certified public accountants earned an average salary of $188,700;
  • CCOs managing a staff of 30 or more made an average of $202,346;
  • CCOs responsible for a budget of $2 million or more made $223,375;
  • Compliance officers overseeing 11 or more countries earned salaries averaging $227,710;
  • Those overseeing two to 10 countries made an average of $156,600;
  • Compliance professionals at publicly traded companies made more ($230,811) than those in privately held companies ($176,159); and
  • Governmental CCOs had the lowest average salary at $122,479.

 Healthcare industry also rewards CCOs

A September 2015 study by the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) showed the healthcare industry investing heavily in their compliance officers:

  • CCOs at the largest companies — those with more than $3 billion in annual revenues — earn an average of $297,604;
  • CCOs at organizations with revenues under $5 million earned $90,487;
  • A typical CCO has managed his or her compliance department from six to 10 years;
  • More than half of CCOs and compliance directors hold a Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC)® certification; those that do earn significantly more than those without one; and
  • CCOs working for academic health care providers earn the highest average total cash compensation at $191,423, followed closely by CCOs working for publicly traded health care companies at $187,832.

 Compliance staff now more important

This data shows that organizations appreciate the role their compliance officers play, particularly those who oversee the observance of regulations in more than one country.

There is  a willingness to pay more for compliance officers who can effectively increase awareness across the organization and ensure all employees are aware of — and understand — compliance issues.

As detailed in the latest whitepaper from Thomson Reuters entitled “What’s Compliance Worth?” the need for more experienced compliance professionals is increasing globally.

Thomson Reuters can help bolster an organization’s compliance efforts with online courses on Code of Conduct training, Ethics and Compliance Essentials training and Fraud Awareness training. Online compliance training is an easy and effective way to ensure employees are able to recognize, handle and/or avoid a variety of misconduct and other ethical issues in the workplace.


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