Without a doubt, compliance and reporting are the hottest areas of hiring in the US, and will likely remain so in the coming year. Banks facing new regulations and those reeling from scandals, like J.P. Morgan, Citi and BNP, are adding thousands of compliance and risk staffers.
But, as most know, it’s not the easiest job to land. You need a particular background and, with banks fearing more negative headlines, most are emphasizing hiring seniors over juniors. For the coming year, here are the key middle office skills that banks are looking for. Being an expert in any one can help earn you a new job, promotion or raise.
A key growth area within compliance over the past year has been the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) space, says Robert Mundy, senior risk and compliance recruiter at Selby Jennings. “Many companies are expanding in this space to help protect themselves from potential fines and socio-political backlash,” he said.
US authorities in particular have been cracking down on illegal money laundering and banks that deal with sanctioned countries. Just look at what happened to Credit Suisse and BNP this year. Multi-billion dollar fines, criminal charges and huge reputation hits.
“These firms are dedicating entire departments within the institutions to cover KYC (know your customer) and AML activities and those with this skill set have many different options including compliance, audit, risk management, and technology,” said Lisa Mogilner, head of financial institution recruiting at Dynamics Associates.
Mundy said that banks have gone so far as to create “centers of excellence,” typically outside of the main financial hubs, where firms are developing teams that handle the bulk of their compliance needs all under one roof, whilst saving costs. Locations include Jersey City, multiple areas in Florida, as well as the Bay Area, he said.
Those who find work as an anti-money laundering specialist tend to have a legal background. Earning a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential can also go a long way to opening doors.
Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, or CCAR, is the Federal Reserve's supervisory program for assessing the capital plans. If you’ve been following the news, you know the Fed continues to tweak its expectations for what is a highly complex reporting mechanism.
With the importance of passing capital review tests and with their constant evolution, banks are on the lookout for CCAR specialists.
“In addition, the Federal Reserve recognizes the challenges firms are facing being new to CCAR,” added Angel Batra, director of financial institution recruiting at Dynamics Associates. “They will continue to develop and enhance their capital planning systems and processes to meet supervisory expectations. Many firms are just now implementing CCAR frameworks and many jobs are now being focused on this area.”
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More than three-quarters of all financial institutions experienced an increase in their total information security budget, said Mogilner, thus creating a slew of new jobs for people in this skill set.
Though updated as part of Dodd-Frank, the 1940 Act has quite obviously been around for a while. But knowledge of how it regulates mutual funds, private equity firms and hedge funds is no less important.
As the alternative investment industry becomes more regulated, as has been the want of many politicians this year, a strong understanding of an updated 1940 will provide some leverage in the job market.
Being on the other side of the wall
The revolving door, where banks poach from regulators and vice versa, is as active as ever. “Often, the most sought after candidates have come from governmental agencies, law enforcement or the military,” Mundy said.
Skillsets that come with that experience include knowledge of Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR), the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control), the BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) and the Patriot Act, he said.