Little Compliance Hiring in Chicago

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While compliance jobs at all levels abound in New York, San Francisco and other parts of the U.S., in Chicago the market remains sluggish.

"Some (financial) firms are adding on the compliance side, but things are moving slower in Chicago," says Stuart Rosenthal of Legend Global Search, a New York-based recruiting firm which specializes in compliance and legal placement. Rosenthal, who does considerable business in Chicago, adds, "A lot of searches are getting put on hold."

Another recruiter, who declined to be named, is more blunt: "Nothing is happening in compliance in Chicago," he says, noting financial firms are making do with their existing staff or turning to individuals in their legal departments to help with compliance work.

Despite the lack of activity in Chicago, this recruiter sees brisk hiring on the U.S. coasts, where big investment firms like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and UBS are adding staff to their compliance departments. Blackrock, BNY Mellon, Barclays Global Investors, Deutsche Bank and Bloomberg are among the companies that have active searches advertised on job boards. However, none of these positions are in the Windy City. National searches encompass various levels, including chief compliance officers, compliance managers and compliance analysts. Many of these firms have either no physical presence or only smaller operations in Chicago, and so may require smaller compliance staffs there.

According to Rosenthal, the slowdown in the economy is contributing to the lackluster hiring market. Over the last year, his firm conducted a number of searches for chief compliance officers, and those executives expected to add headcount during 2008. Because of budgetary constraints, "That isn't happening yet," Rosenthal says.

An insider at a bulge bracket investment firm says his company isn't doing much hiring in compliance. For the few searches out there, "We're looking for specialty experience," he says. Rosenthal echoes his words. In Chicago and beyond, there's demand for individuals who have experience with mergers or management change issues.

While hedge funds are among the few who are adding compliance staff, those openings tend to be at larger firms. These jobs may not be advertised online and the firms may not even be using traditional recruiters. Rosenthal notes that to cut costs, numerous firms are doing their own recruiting or outsourcing their recruiting efforts.