Compliance: in demand

Written by James Thomas on Wednesday May 20, 2015

It’s been said before, but for those in search of a career that is both challenging and rewarding there has never been a better time to work in compliance. The challenges come in the form of the abundance and complexity of current and forthcoming regulations, increasing scrutiny and greater enforcement activity; the rewards through the growing demand that this has created for skilled compliance professionals.

Indeed, last month recruitment consultants Robert Walters reported that compliance jobs were up by 13% at the national level, compared with the previous year. Demand for compliance professionals in the City is currently massively outstripping supply, with almost four jobs per candidate according to the company’s latest City Jobs Index (this is up from 3.2 jobs per candidate 12 months ago).

Tomas Strelczak, Manager – Compliance at Robert Walters, explained to me that this represents a considerable skills shortage cutting across the four key areas of product advisory, financial crime/AML, regulatory change and monitoring. The candidates that are able to command the best salaries are those with a demonstrable track record within dedicated compliance roles. However, he says, in the face of this skills gap employers are showing a greater willingness to employ people without a direct background in compliance (for example, those coming from a legal background moving into the sphere of regulatory change, or those coming from audit into monitoring).

Therefore, despite it being a seller’s market, there remains an incentive for individuals, particularly those entering compliance from other disciplines, to distinguish themselves from the crowd. “If you’re looking to make a move into the industry without any prior experience there are few ways that you can really set yourself apart, but it can come down to qualifications,” says Mr Strelczak. “From the employer’s perspective a qualification can demonstrate how committed you are to entering a new industry. And if you don’t have experience, what can you do to show that you’re really keen to get that experience? Usually qualifications are a good place to start.”

In Mr Strelczak’s view, the increased demand for compliance practitioners witnessed in recent years is here to stay. “One can assume that with the rafts of regulation coming over the horizon – like the senior managers regime and MIFID 2 – that trend is set to continue,” he says. Moreover, this may not be simply a short-term pattern. “New regulations will require changes in banks’ processes and operational procedures, and once those changes have taken place and those new regulations have been implemented it will be necessary to turn that into business as usual,” he adds. “That will require people staying on within the business or being recruited into the business to build teams that can handle that regulation from an operational standpoint.”

It would seem, then, that compliance is in demand as never before and that things are set to stay that way for some time. As ever, we’d be keen to hear your views. Are your skills in demand, are you confident they will remain so, and has the way you think about and market yourself as a compliance practitioner changed as a result?

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