Sydney pay for compliance staff on par with London

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The City of London is not the world's only financial centre in need of banking compliance staff. Recruiters say banks in Sydney are eager to hire too.

"Compliance hiring in Australia is very strong," says Sarah Street, director of the legal division at Sydney-based recruiter Carmichael Fisher. "There's strong demand for people with at least two to three years' banking experience."

As in the London and New York, demand for compliance staff is being fanned by regulations inspired by financial services scandals and attempts to inhibit terrorists' fundraising abilities. Last year, for example, Australia's retail banks, insurance companies and brokers were impacted by a new law requiring that all businesses offering financial services hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) Licence.

Next year, the Australian industry looks to be hit by new anti-money laundering legislation. Among other things, this is expected to widen the set of financial services organisations governed by money laundering laws, to impose new standards of risk assessment and to require the ongoing monitoring of customer transactions.

Street says money laundering skills are hard to find in Sydney and people are currently being hired from Asia and the UK in advance of the new legislation. Oliver Cunliffe, a compliance specialist at recruiter Michael Page in Sydney, agrees: "International banks will look overseas and sponsor appropriate candidates," he says. "Skills gained in the UK market are transferable, especially if you have local knowledge too. Highly regarded."

Compliance pay in Australia appears to come in on a par with London. A recent survey by London-based recruiter the PSD Group found average compliance salaries in the City rose between 10% and 20% last year, while average compliance bonuses rose between 15% and 30%. Compliance managers in London now earn salaries of between 42,000 and 53,000, says PSD Group. Similar ranking compliance staff in Sydney earn salaries of between 36,000 (AU$85,000) and 55,000, says Street.

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