Senior compliance professionals in Singapore and Hong Kong can look forward to 25% salary hikes when they change employers. And the growing burden of global regulations means banks in Asia will consider overseas-based candidates. This will come as good news for Societe Generale compliance professionals in France, whose jobs are reportedly under threat.
“The job market is currently very buoyant for compliance practitioners across Asia,” said Andrew Glover, managing director of the International Compliance Training Academy in Singapore. “Increased regulatory scrutiny is leading many firms to increase the size and scope of their compliance units, but this is happening faster than new people can join the market or existing staff can be trained and gain appropriate experience,” he said.
Three regulations from outside the region are helping to open up compliance jobs for overseas candidates in Singapore and Hong Kong. The first is FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, an American law passed in 2010 which requires banks to disclose US assets in foreign accounts beginning this year. Knowledge of Basel III capital requirements, which were agreed upon by banks globally in response to the financial crisis, is also sought after in Asia. And expertise in the Dodd-Frank Act, a major reform to US financial services, is needed.
If you are applying from abroad and are experienced in such regulations, make sure your CV doesn’t let you down. “I recently talked to a senior overseas candidate from a bulge-bracket bank who’d worked on international regulatory projects, but listed them in short bullet points – that’s not good enough to spark interest of employers in Asia,” said Kyle Blockley, director of recruitment agency KS Consulting in Singapore. “I told her to rewrite her resume, stating exactly what she worked on and detailing the knowledge she gained,” he said.
Glover from ICTA said recruitment from overseas was happening mainly for senior roles. “At the junior end, it’s very uncommon, other than via internal transfers,” he said.
Compliance professionals with Asian experience are even more sought after in Singapore and Hong Kong than their foreign counterparts as firms get to grips with new local financial regulations. These include an enhanced regulatory regime in Singapore asset management and recent anti-money laundering rules in Hong Kong.
“Asia Pacific is a fragmented and diverse market which often requires candidates to be familiar with the intricacies of each country,” said Suan Wei Yeo, a director at Profile Search and Selection in Singapore. “While local rules can be picked up, the revenue pressure and speed of response required by compliance officers to regulators and senior management has weighted things in favour of candidates already based in the region,” she said.
The demand for compliance professionals in Asia was most acute from senior vice president to director level, said Helen Ng, a senior consultant at recruiters Hudson in Singapore. “With new roles being created, candidates are often attending multiple interviews, resulting in the best ones being quickly snapped up,” she said.
Salary spikes and short-term stays
Ng said while demand for candidates continued to outstrip supply, compliance professionals who jump ship could achieve salary increases of up to 25%, and even sign-on or guaranteed bonuses in some cases. “Only excellent people get a 25% uplift, but I’ve seen it happen recently,” added Blockley from KS Consulting. “I’ve seen people turn down jobs because another bank comes along and offers them more money,” he said.
Strong competition for talent among employers can also mean compliance professionals didn’t stay at one firm long enough to be “fully effective” and gain enough experience dealing with the “longer-term consequences” of their decisions, said Glover from ICTA.
Standard Chartered was hiring compliance people the "most aggressively" among banks in Singapore, said a recruiter based in the city-state who asked not to be named. The bank did not answer a request for comment.