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Compliance salaries double in fintechs

If you work in compliance in an investment bank, it might be a good time to move to a fintech.

Recruiter Tom Boulderstone, speaking on Lucy McNulty’s Following the Rules podcast this week, has said the compliance and financial crime job market is at the busiest his firm, Barclay Simpson, has seen in recent years. The post-pandemic pent-up recruitment demand has led to the best quarter and week for client billings in Barclay Simpson’s history. Candidates are also seeing some of that cash, particularly the candidates hired by fintechs.

Senior-level compliance and regulatory roles at fintechs, says Tom, were previously paying £70-80k GBP ($87-99k USD) for a job that would command a £140-150k GBP ($173-185k USD) salary at a bank. Employees were often incentivized with share options to accept the below-market rate but would rarely reap monetary benefits from those options due to their short tenure at the business. Now, Tom is placing candidates at fintechs at salaries close to what banks were previously paying. If an office dog, beer on tap and a competitive salary are what bank compliance employees with one foot out the door are looking for, now appears the time to start walking.  

Compliance compensation at banks is also increasing but is constrained by salary bands that the big banks are sticking to. Boulderstone says an AVP at a bank’s compliance department earning £55-60k GBP (68-74k USD) could previously expect an uplift to £65k GBP ($90k USD) when moving to another bank. Now, the banks are willing to stretch to the upper limits of those bands and offer closer to £70k GBP (87k USD). Or, in one extreme example he recounts, a candidate will receive two counter offers (one from both their old firm and recruiting firm) and end up nearly doubling their salary. The risk, he says, is that person “might have burnt a few bridges.”

Tom recently placed another candidate in a well-known payments processor fintech. This global head of sanctions role is being paid north of £200k GBP ($247k USD) base for what would previously have been a £140k GBP ($173k USD) role. This reflects the premium on offer for “real expert advisory specialists,” according to Tom. Firms want candidates who can interpret what a geopolitical crisis like the war in Ukraine will mean for their business and bring together an understanding of underlying technology and regulation with an ability to effectively implement it.

In the same podcast, Tom gives a summary of other non-bank or fintech options for compliance professionals: in asset management, the bigger brand names are tending to pay an equivalent base to banks but with higher bonus potential while hedge funds and private equity shops are where compliance professionals can earn the highest total comp. This mirrors the landscape for finance jobs more broadly with the additional development that fintechs are finally edging in with attractive salaries. Combined with share options, in-office perks and out-of-office remote flexibility they might just be the place to be. So long as the precipitous drop of fintech crypto exchange Coinbase (down 77% YTD) doesn’t put too many candidates off.  

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AUTHORNathan Risser Editor

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