Size doesn’t matter; why compliance professionals should consider small businesses

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A business must be compliant and follow the rules. It sounds so straightforward yet there continues to be a need for compliance functions to safeguard this. A good compliance function could be likened to a set of solid house foundations. Having a strong base reinforces your chances of having a house that doesn’t fall down. It works the same way in a business; having the right checks, balances and systems in place means you have a stable base from which to grow and expand your company.
There is no argument that compliance professionals play a vital role in protecting a business and helping it on its way to success, however, the question that often arises amongst our clients is at what stage in a business’ expansion plan is a compliance function required? Traditionally, start-ups and SMEs have overlooked the importance of internal processes, seeing compliance functions as a future endeavour rather than a necessity, in an attempt to keep overheads to a minimum. This view is now changing and smaller businesses are rapidly seeing the benefit of having a function or at least a compliance professional involved from the beginning, as it translates into future savings.
Although there are multiple benefits of having a compliance function, for small businesses the key ones are as follows:

  • It takes time and pressure off of senior executives if they have a compliance team or professional that can dedicate the time to and be responsible for ensuring the business is growing in the right way.
  • It pays to have expert advice from experienced professionals that have had exposure to the laws and regulations that a business must follow from the get go as well as in the future.
  • Compliance is applicable across a variety of areas of a company, from HR to IT so there will be a use for a compliance professional even if the business isn’t a large entity.

So what does this mean for compliance candidates?
Of course roles within large complex organisations are still enticing but working in an SME or start-up goes hand in hand with a lot of opportunities. In a large business, you will end up in a very niche role which can lead to you being somewhat pigeonholed when you try to progress. Comparatively whilst working within a smaller company will give you exposure to a far wider variety of areas. Having a breadth of experience can be beneficial as it is attractive to prospective employees and many of our candidates enjoy the variation and scope of responsibilities that comes with the role. There’s also the satisfaction in feeling that you are able to make an impact and tangible difference to a small business’ strategy and goals – if the company then progresses along an upwards trajectory, it also could turn into a key player within its market and you would have been part of it from the beginning.
Start-ups and SME’s are now trying to attract quality compliance candidates by offering them the opportunity to work in a personable environment, where they will have significant influence. Whilst they can’t often match the basics of the bigger players, they can offer early stage LTIPs, often with great benefits and work/life balance.
If you are interested in growing your compliance career and want to speak with our team about the state of the market or to learn more about the benefits of working for a smaller business, then please get in touch now with Nick at