If anyone working in financial services is now drifting about in silken nighties, eating caviar for breakfast and pomegranate seeds for lunch, it must surely be regulatory compliance professionals? After all, financial services regulation has gone wild. Deloitte's hiring consultants. PwC is hiring consultants. Ernst & Young is hiring too. Many of these hires are for regulatory consulting roles. Who wouldn't want to be a regulatory consultant in the current climate?
We spoke to one regulatory consultant who said that, actually, things aren't so great. He wasn't dressed in silks and he'd had a huge pay cut. "Three years ago, someone with ten years' experience could earn £2k-£3k a day. Now it's more like £700-£1k," he lamented, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The problem is the precise thing which seemed a blessing: the big push from the big compliance consultancies. This has squeezed smaller contractors, who were previously able to charge huge daily rates and operate with very minimal costs. "The big consultancies have taken over the market," complained the contractor we spoke to. "They're bidding for work they were never interested in before and we end up either having to compete with them, or having to work for them at a reduced rate."
Those regulatory consultants who are prepared to come under the umbrella of consulting firms will find plenty of opportunities available. The Big Four are in a state of perpetual recruitment, as are compliance-focused consultancies. Cordium, a consultancy with offices in the UK, the US and Asia currently has six jobs advertised and is about to release another two. "We're always interested in good hires," said marketing director Louise Yates.
Yates didn't say how much Cordium pays. James Findlay, a compliance specialist at recruitment firm Selby Jennings, said there aren't too many people earning six figures in regulatory compliance in banks and that beyond banking there are even fewer still. A vice president with four years' experience working in compliance for a bank, and a legal background, might earn £85k in a Big Four regulatory consulting role, said Findlay.
"It's such a growing area, that we're seeing a lot of people moving into compliance from areas like finance and risk," he added. However, people without direct prior experience might need to be flexible on pay while they learn the ropes, Findlay added.
"This is not really easy money," said the consultant. "Banks and hedge funds are trying to cut their compliance costs, and consulting involves long hours and a lot of stress. If you're a freelance consultant you're always at the risk of being terminated and having to find a new job." Financial services professionals in search of the good life may need to look elsewhere.