Why demand for compliance professionals is high, and what you should do about it
While recruitment in the corporate governance sector has generally slowed of late, demand for compliance professionals is continuing to climb. Barclay Simpson’s latest Compensation and Market Trends interim report looks at the extent of this demand and the reasons behind it.
The start of 2015 saw 87 per cent of compliance departments predicting the need to recruit over the coming 12 months, according to the new report.
Tom Boulderstone, manager for compliance and financial crime at Barclay Simpson, says overall demand in the sector is currently “very, very high” – although persuading compliance professionals to move jobs can be challenging nonetheless. “Trying to actually get people to move is a different thing, especially at this time of year when you’ve got all the bonuses and everything like that, but I would say we’re seeing a lot of demand.”
Which areas of compliance are seeing most demand?
Compliance as a whole is a significant area of growth, but specific parts of the sector are performing better than others. Among the biggest growth areas are:
- monitoring and assurance;
- general financial crime, particularly around anti-money laundering;
- sanctions, such as those imposed on Russia by the EU in response to the Ukraine crisis;
- regulatory affairs and development.
Although these areas have seen the highest level of activity, Boulderstone stresses that demand has generally been strong across the board. “We’re seeing no slowdown,” he explains. “There must come a point where this growth has to come to an end, but it’s not looking like being any time soon.”
The creation of new monitoring and assurance positions is largely down to the desire of companies to show regulators – both in the UK and abroad – that they are taking decisive action following the financial crisis. “Not only are they talking about doing things, but they’re actually able to show there is a cultural change, and how do you do that if you’re not monitoring in terms of what’s going on?”
And with so many new rules and regulations being imposed on the financial services sector, from the UK, Europe and globally, the largest organisations – with operations across numerous markets – are striving to keep abreast of these developments. “[They are] trying to have teams that look at things from a global perspective and set a baseline standard that is then adaptable and amenable to the various locations.”
Why are so many compliance professionals changing jobs?
Of course, it’s not just a coincidence that there is currently so much demand for compliance staff.
Boulderstone attributes this trend to two key reasons. Firstly, many compliance professionals are effectively playing catchup now that higher salaries are more widely available. Some will no doubt have been planning to move on for years, but were concerned about job security in the wake of the financial crisis and were not being sufficiently incentivised by the salaries on offer. That is no longer the case, leading to a small upturn in salary and compensation. The average salary increase enjoyed by compliance professionals staying in the same job rose from 7.7 to 8.3 per cent in 2015, while those who moved to a new employer saw a climb from 20 to 21 per cent.
However, the biggest factor in people changing jobs is demand. Compliance professionals know that the ball is very much in their court, and that moving employer can be an effective way to bolster their career prospects.
“They know that if they’re not getting the progression that they want internally, if they’re any good at all there will be someone else out there that will be prepared to pay them that little bit more, and give them that promotion a little bit earlier,” explains Boulderstone. “It’s creating an environment where there’s a lot of incentive to move if people feel they aren’t getting quite what they want where they are.”
Is now a good time to look for a new compliance job?
The high level of demand that exists in the sector will no doubt encourage some compliance professionals to consider new roles. But is now actually a good time to move on?
Boulderstone says the real question is less about timing and more about motivation: “I would always caution against moving just to get a slightly better pay cheque; I think you often end up making a mistake in terms of the role you actually want to get, and those that stay will actually long-term end up being rewarded for that.
“There are a lot of very interesting jobs out there. If your current employer is not prepared to recognise what you’re bringing to them, both in progression and financial terms, then someone else probably will be. If you’re in that situation, it’s a pretty good time to be looking round.”