Career Connection

CFEs should consider trade compliance as a profession

Trade compliance professionals help protect companies, but they also play a role in safeguarding national and global security. This emerging field offers exciting career opportunities for CFEs whose skill sets are a great match for companies that need professionals who can prevent and detect trade violations that threaten real harm.

As a CFE attending my first seminar at the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) — an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, I was struck by their mission: “Keeping the most sensitive technologies out of the most dangerous hands.” It spoke directly to my fraud examiner’s soul, and introduced me to a very new perspective on how a well-trained CFE can repurpose their skills for a new field.

It’s been seven years since I began a career in trade compliance. I’ve been amazed at how the analytical and investigative skills I’ve needed as a CFE have also aided me in a role that deals with national security. My experience makes me eager to share my career path, and explain how our valuable CFE skill sets make us sought-after candidates for a variety of opportunities within the trade compliance field.

Trade compliance professionals have an important and fulfilling role protecting companies from losses due to export violations, which can include actual financial penalties and lost business. But they also oversee international trade regulations in the private sector and represent a critical compliance function in high stakes matters including national security and regional stability.

Trade compliance encompasses an array of roles in both the private and government (public) sectors. The private sector offers some unique options, such as commercial and educational roles, but every entity presents its own risk profile based on size, industry, geography of sales, types of products and other factors. But what exactly is trade compliance? 

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