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An Overview of the Compliance Recruitment Market in 2015

compliance professionalsBanking and Financial Services

The Compliance market experienced a slow beginning to 2015 but with the demand for knowledgeable Compliance professionals along with many banking firms strengthening their surveillance teams, this rapidly picked up during the latter part of Q1.


The majority of activity has been on the sell-side, with a number of large investment banks expanding their Compliance departments. We have seen high levels of demand at the senior AVP/junior VP level within surveillance, Compliance monitoring and testing, AML investigations and sanctions advisory, as well as training.




It has been a pivotal year for Compliance with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) turning their regulatory spotlight on surveillance functions in investment banking. In response to this, many firms decided to strengthen their surveillance teams and began hiring people with testing experience. In order to increase the candidate flow in this space, they’ve also considered hiring internal audit candidates and ex-front office employees. Many of these candidates have crossed over into the Compliance field and some of them, especially those with more than 3 years’ surveillance experience, are now earning around £70-85K per year.


Product Advisory


The demand for experienced Compliance professionals, especially those with trading floor experience, was notably high this year. A large proportion of investment banks looked for Compliance advisory experts to provide both generalist and transaction-specific advice to front office personnel. Given the demand for professionals with this experience, those with 3-5 years’ experience are now receiving salaries in the £80-120K bracket. Those with 5 years or more, namely those at a senior VP or Director-level, are now earning up to £150K+.




The need for experienced Compliance trainers has increased vastly over the last 18 months. Banks began to focus more on training and educating internal staff members making 2015 a pinnacle year for those in the Compliance training space. There was a noticeable digression from e-training and remote training sessions, retuning to face-to-face education. Regional Compliance trainers can now earn up to £110K; those working on a global level training other Compliance staff on a multi-jurisdictional level, can often demand salaries up to the £170K mark.




The demand for AML and Financial Crime specialists continued apace in 2015 with a focus on QA, AML surveillance, investigations and sanctions advisory professionals. More specific roles such as anti-bribery and anti-fraud investigators have also been apparent.


Regulatory Developments


The significantly increased level of rules and regulations led many investment and wholesale banks to start looking for experts with experience in anticipating and analysing new rules and regulations, as well as in advising on their potential commercial impact. Common examples of job titles include ‘Regulatory Affairs’, ‘Regulatory Liaisons Officer’ or ‘Regulatory Developments Officer’. They tend to vary from bank to bank however, they all focus on anticipating and preparing for regulatory developments and change.


So, 2015 brought an increase in basic salaries and benefits packages for both existing and potential employees. The demand for specialist Compliance professionals was significantly higher than the supply of available candidates. Therefore, as the market became more and more competitive, companies began to offer additional incentives. More bonuses, especially the ‘soft guaranteed’ ones (verbal assurances that potential employees will be paid specific bonuses), have been offered to potential employees. Moreover, there was a 20-25% increase in the total package offered to specialist Compliance professionals.


As more candidates are being offered significant increases to their salaries and/or total packages, there seems to be an attrition within the Compliance space. For example, the strong demand for equities advisory staff led to numerous experts in this field being headhunted and offered increases of more than £25-30K on their current base salaries. This is often coupled with an increase in job grade and an improved job title.


The need for specialist Compliance professionals was high in 2015 and will continue to grow in 2016. The relatively small pool of candidates will result in more companies increasing cross-training or considering lateral hires. Retention was also on every company’s radar throughout 2015 and, apart from bonuses and increased benefits packages, they also offered promotions and job title inflation. Buy-backs were also increasingly common as the banks tried to hold on to strong Compliance candidates and avoid re-hiring costs and expenses.


Mark specialises in the recruitment of Compliance and AML professionals across Banking & Financial Services on both a permanent and contract basis. If you are looking to hire Compliance professionals or seeking an employment opportunity of this nature please connect with Mark on LinkedIn, email him at or call him on +44 (0) 7711 373 302.

Mark Lawrence
Posted by Mark Lawrence
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