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Are compliance jobs finally… Cool?

If you struggle to explain what your compliance job is on a first date, you might be happy to know that you might soon not have to. Or your paypacket will be big enough to drink away the pain. Either or.

Lucy McNulty, host of the “Following the Rules” podcast, spoke to Jonathon Skerrett, the legal & compliance chief for recruitment firm Rutherford, and found that the middle office is very much in fashion – and will be even more so.

When compliance staff switch jobs, they're achieving salary uplifts of 30-40% in hedge funds, said Skerrett. The general trend isn't quite as bullish, but is still positive nonetheless: compliance salaries have increased 12% in the past two years, said Skerrett.  

Mid-career compliance officers that are getting the bulk of the benefits. While junior candidates are achieving the biggest salary uplifts, he said the people with two to four years' experience are in the hiring sweet spot.

Just as junior bankers shift to the private equity and hedge fund firms on the buy-side, junior compliance officers do much the same. Most banks have graduate training programs for compliance professionals, and buy-side firms (which don't) are taking advantage of this.

Banks' compliance training programmes have  “career compliance officers”, who've never worked in any other division. This is a relatively new concept for a role that's traditionally attracted people from other roles in banking. Being a career compliance officer “has benefits and disadvantages,” Skerrett said. “I know that some senior compliance officers will say, ‘well, do they know what they're really looking for?’”

Still, Skerrett sees optimism in the current compliance job market no matter how you began your career. Brexit – and the desire – means that new laws are needed to govern the City of London in the future. In fact, the situation “continues to create a candidate-driven market where counteroffers are more prevalent… The talent shortage is unlikely to go away long term.”

The best place to be? Well, somewhere else. “The largest increases have typically gone to those who change jobs,” Skerrett says. “If you take a candidate who didn't move in 2021 and rode out the pandemic at their current employer, they would, by mid-2022, start to look considerably underpaid because their compensation hasn't kept pace with the market increases.”

Skerrett notes that the buy-side, as well as private funds, are probably the best places of the lot, though. They're offering 15-25% potential salary uplifts. Hedge funds are best: salaries can be 30-50% higher for compliance staff who switch jobs there. 

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AUTHORZeno Toulon
  • Bo
    Bob Morane
    10 January 2023

    >Are compliance jobs finally… Cool?



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