Compliance Professionals: What You Need To Know Before Changing Jobs

Author Theresa Pang 彭爱真
August 13, 2017

Meetings with recruitment specialists are not always to talk about specific jobs; it’s also a chance for you to understand the market and how best to approach certain situations. Here are the three most commonly questions asked by both active job seekers and those interested in hearing about new job opportunities in the compliance market.

Q. How easy is it to switch sectors, and how can I do this?

There are various types of sector switches, with some tougher to make than the other. Below are the two most commonly asked about moves in the financial services sector.

Retail/Investment Banks to Private Banks: This is one of the most popular switches within the sell-side, but also a challenging one. Private Banks tends to have stricter and more stringent regulations, particularly in Anti-Money Laundering (AML), with notoriously more aggressive bankers to work with. Private Banks continues to put up some resistance hiring cross sector, but would be open to candidates from Priority Banking/Premier Wealth. KYC/On-Boarding specialist would also receive preferential treatment in such moves, however often at the junior level (3-6 years of experience). So make sure you make the switch early!

Sell-side to Buy-side: Unlike the above, AML and Regulatory Compliance specialist would find this move a trying one while Investment Compliance specialist have made the change easily due to a lack of strong candidates in this market.

Q. I believe I’m currently being paid below the market average so I would like a larger increment. Is this possible and what is considered reasonable?

First, it’s important to understand this from a hiring company’s standpoint – while they try to attract the best talent with as favourable a package as possible, HR conducts market benchmarking and aligns their internal compensation policies to the market average – anything above the normal increment raises a lot of concerns internally. Most hiring companies focus on the incremental value rather than the final value. As hiring managers become more selective and conservative about hiring, compliance is no longer the candidate driven market it used to be.

Today’s average increment for compliance professionals sit at 10-15%, with anything more than a 25% uplift in your asking salary certainly raising an eyebrow. According to our salary survey, 42% of candidates think that they’re not paid enough – with few rightly so. If you are truly below the market rate, your recruiter should (hopefully) be able to explain how they’ll go about approaching this with the client. Ideal outcome would be a slightly higher uplift, but other options to consider could be a salary review after probation or a sign-on bonus for senior candidates. However, it is a privilege not to be confused with entitlement.

Q. What is your advice on specialisation within Compliance?

You will probably meet different people with varying opinion on this matter, and there is no one size fits all answer. Understanding the common trends and career path might help determine if specialisation works for you.

Specialisation thrives in established organisations, particularly the bulge bracket or global banks. Large teams, hierarchical structure and matrix reporting are common traits and depending on which bank, your career is headed for Global Head of specialisation, or Regional Head of specialisation with a team of four to ten people under your care, sometimes even larger.

Recruitment is generally most active for candidates in the range of six to twelve years of experience, with regional exposure and projects being highly advantageous. One of the biggest challenges that most hiring managers’ face is in the lack of stability, in particular KYC and AML specialist. Contrary to what most candidates believe tenure of one and a half years not the right time to move. Having more than one job with only one and a half years’ experience is damaging to your profile (unless you’re on a contract) and the excuse of “so-and-so did that too, and they got a job” is not going to convince your hiring manager to shortlist your profile.

For more information, please contact me for a confidential discussion and together we can understand how best to leverage on your current experience to chart your career path!