• Role: Compliance Officer
  • Location: London
  • University: LSE
  • Degree: MSc Globalisation and Development
  • Organisation: Deutsche Bank

Nisha Dhawan

Why compliance?

After completing my Master’s degree at the London School of Economics, I considered three career paths: banking, consulting and academia. When I heard that select firms in London were offering graduate programmes in compliance, I knew it would be the ideal fit for my background in social sciences.

Compliance values analytical and communications skills, as well as an understanding of markets and world affairs. In addition, compliance is one of the few teams that interacts with divisions bank-wide, since its members act as consultants to each business line. I am proud to be involved in managing the bank’s regulatory and reputational risk.

Deutsche Bank’s complience graduate programme

The compliance graduate programme is part of the wider programme for the Legal, Risk & Capital (LRC) division. It is structured in three parts and spread over 12 months. The first part is the global induction training programme, the second consists of three on-the-job rotations and the third is two one-week continuous development modules.

My initial rotation was in London, where I spent time in different areas of compliance, gaining a broad understanding of the business.

The second leg was an international rotation in Dubai, where I was able to see the difference between a developed and a booming emerging market. My final rotation was in credit risk management, where I learned how risk is managed from a credit perspective.

After the 12-month programme I was assigned to a permanent role in Equities compliance.

Because of the nature of my rotations, I sat with seven teams within compliance. This enabled me to learn from compliance officers who came from a variety of backgrounds. I have been given responsibilities very early on and have had exposure to many different areas of compliance within Deutsche Bank.

Throughout, I have been supported by my manager and an assigned buddy. Both have helped me understand the scope of compliance and have provided me with a tremendous amount of guidance.

Working in London

In my first rotation, I moved across seven teams in four months, enabling me to understand better their functions and responsibilities. My rotations exposed me to two main types of compliance: central and advisory. Central is at the heart of the compliance world, while advisory teams are the arteries that deliver expertise to the bank’s multiple business areas.

In central compliance, I learned how Deutsche Bank’s activities are monitored and about the vetting procedure for adopting clients into the organisation. I saw how conflicts of interest are managed and how market abuse is detected. I also worked on projects with the anti-money laundering team and collected information to conduct an internal investigation.

In advisory compliance, I helped approve products as per regulatory requirements and examined the applicability of regulations to different transactions in global banking.

I helped create a framework to train front office staff about retail product restrictions and even created a document in conjunction with my buddy that was disseminated to the global markets division. The most exciting part of being in advisory was witnessing compliance manage the bank’s reputational risk.

Some global experience in Dubai

I requested a rotation into an emerging market, because I knew it would tie together so many aspects of my education. In Dubai, the compliance function assumes a quasi-business development role. Not only is Deutsche Bank’s presence in the region expanding, but also the regulatory landscape is new and its relevance and applicability are negotiated daily by the compliance team.

Apart from specific project work, I spent time working on global markets’ transactions, which all had a similar pioneering aspect to them.

During my time in Dubai, I researched, formulated solutions and then answered questions raised by the business. I was responsible for projects that facilitated the business’ movement into new markets and new product areas in the region. It was fantastic to have had this exposure and responsibility so early in my career.

Credit risk management placement

I returned to London to pursue my final rotation in credit risk management, where I gained an opportunity to see how risk is managed from a different perspective. I was based in the Portfolio Management team, which is responsible for measuring and regulating the bank’s credit risk exposure across industry sectors. I gained a more holistic understanding of the forces at work within the bank which ensure that every deal is transparent and legal and makes business sense.


As part of the graduate programme, I have taken several training courses. At the start of the programme, there was an introductory training programme, which provided a comprehensive overview of the financial services industry.

Later, the following year, I went to Frankfurt for a week-long project management and negotiation skills training, and finally a week-long training event at the end of the programme.

I am also pursuing an executive diploma in capital markets regulation and compliance through the American equivalent of the FSA, the Financial Industry Regulator Authority (FINRA) and the University of Reading, supported by the bank.

Beyond the graduate programme

I joined the Global Markets Equity Compliance team in London and became part of a team that covers the Equities business across the EMEA region. This has been a fantastic opportunity to learn about and apply regulation to the equities business across the region. Upon joining the team, I was given responsibility early on and have been able to leverage off the skills gained during the graduate programme to add value in my day to day work.

I am involved in a variety of issues that concern the bank’s equity business.

On any given day I work on issues concerning our clients, our products and the exchanges on which we trade. Due to the nature of my job I continuously interact with individuals across the bank because I am part of the team that addresses the impact of market news and regulatory changes within this product area.

The opportunities to learn didn’t end with the graduate programme. Since joining this role, I have taken the CISI exams for financial regulation and securities. I have also been to various industry seminars and lectures – since I have a supportive manager in an institution that creates the space to constantly feed their employees’ intellectual curiosity.

Is compliance for you?

Compliance is the career for you if you thrive on working on several things at the same time and enjoy working across a broad range of areas. It is not something that you can pick up by reading books. Rather, every solution has many variables that have to be assessed and brought together by compliance teams.

In addition, compliance is great for someone who wants to be challenged continuously to find strategic solutions within a regulatory framework. Ultimately, in a new and growing field, we are all influencing the future of compliance and that is why I am excited about what is yet to come.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I thoroughly enjoy the diversity of the work. On any given day, I am involved with a multitude of issues that require many approaches to deduce the best solution. This enables me to learn something new every day. The 12-month graduate programme has enabled me to grasp the breadth of compliance before focusing in-depth on one particular area.

Tell us about the most stressful experience of the job

Since we assess numerous issues that can greatly impact the bank, it’s sometimes stressful to draw a conclusion quickly while being certain that you haven’t left any stones unturned.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since graduation?

I think it is very important to be passionate and engaged in your career. It is essential to work with people who encourage you to push boundaries and to learn from every task you undertake.

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