FLOBEL Advisor introduces her new book, “Congratulations You’re A Compliance Officer! Now What?”
FLOBEL Advisor Sheryl T. Smikle Ph.D. is a graduate of Vassar, Hunter College, and Fordham University. As a trained foreign language educator and an anti-money laundering Compliance Training Office, Sheryl, alternates between the academe and financial services, assuming learning leadership roles in both spaces. As a beacon of knowledge about the ethos of compliance and with a knack for translating complex concepts, Sheryl shares a great deal of her experience blogging and anti-money laundering test prep lectures. Nectar News sat down with Sheryl to share the impact of compliance as a profession and learned more about her book for new Compliance Officers: Congratulations, You’re A Compliance Officer! Now What?
SS: My primary development arena has been working with attorneys to help businesses identify laws that apply to them. The goal is to ensure that their employees are familiar with the ramifications of not adhering to those legal requirements in their day to day responsibilities.
NN: How has compliance changed since you began navigating the industry?
SS: Early on in my journey with compliance I worked for a company that didn’t have a blue print on how to develop a compliance organization. It was either sink or swim back in those days. It was a lot of reading, a lot of presentation development, trying the presentations out on different audiences. We had to calibrate the presentations correctly for various levels of employees from the top to the bottom and then travel all around the country, initially, and then to select international markets delivering the content. I became very good at developing curricula around anti-money laundering and that became an area of expertise, but I never forgot the painful way in which I became a compliance officer. Back then you couldn’t major in compliance at a university. People in compliance already had other experiences within business, finance, sales, operations, etc, so learning how to become a compliance officer took a lot of grit.
When I was looking at what I should do with my doctorate, I always felt that the credential helped me in my role, but I should really try to justify my doctorate by publishing something. One day I met someone at a very impressive business leadership conference. I was curious about how they selected writers to publish. The person I met shared “we have people who were highly recommended and well experienced in their fields” which led to a conversation about my field of expertise. I responded to his inquiry with, “learning, but in particular compliance”. They had very few titles in compliance, so he encouraged me to write a proposal. That then led to me writing a book about how to be a compliance officer designed to support compliance personnel.
NN: It’s a unique niche that you’ve found, sharing this content from your perspective. What are the things that set you apart and unique as a writer?
SS: I think when you look at the books that are out there, they are designed for large scale professional organizations. In other words, it’s very top down. My book is catered to individuals that take on compliance as a job but maybe they weren’t exactly sure what they signed up for. The books seeks to explain what compliance really means and offers a quick and dirty orientation so that new compliance officers can at least begin to add value and have the right conversations and build a strong foundation.
NN: From your experience in compliance do you feel that there are any major barriers that people aren’t aware of?
SS: We always have to remember as compliance officers, we need to keep our eyes on the prize:, protecting the brand. It is our job to ensure that our shareholders, our employees, and our customers feel good about doing business with us. Similarly, should never do nor allow anything to compromise that feeling. That being said, compliance can sometimes feel like a thankless job, but it is legally mandated. Any company that wants to be considered a good corporate citizen must have good compliance. It should be adequately resourced, the size and complexity of an organization.
NN: What have gleaned from your personal experience as a compliance officer that you would like to share?
SS: I believe compliance is a stable career. I think it’s a challenging career as well and you have to bring all of your experiences to bear. You also have to be ready to be humbled while learning how to be a compliance officer. By Reconfiguring your skillset you’ll find that you are in a unique position. You are the conduit between business and the regulatory environment, and that’s a very good position to be in. Things like your moral compass and credibility are critical and in the book you’l see that ethics plays a large part in being a compliance officer. This is a profession for people who’s personality is such that they always gravitate to doing the right thing. I’m very thankful that as a compliance officer you get to use that as a strength to accomplish the mission of your position.