Revenge of the nerds as banks see risk, compliance hiring boom

Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:42pm EST
 

By Rachel Armstrong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Tough regulations aimed at banks have jolted demand for compliance, risk and legal officers, creating one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal job market for the financial industry.

Traditionally one of the least glamorous jobs in the sector, these staff are in hot demand at a time when nearly all other parts of the banking industry are getting cut.

"It used to be a really tough job to sell as people saw it as boring," said Sonia Fuller, director of recruitment firm KS Consulting in Singapore, who said some risk and compliance candidates are asking for raises of up to 50 percent when they change jobs.

With demand outstripping supply, recruiters say compliance staff can be hard to find, and are asking for the biggest salary hikes across the financial industry.

Recruitment firm Robert Half says compliance salaries in Singapore have gone up 10 percent on average in the past year, one of the biggest year-on-year increases across the finance and accounting sectors.

Annual basic pay for an experienced professional in Singapore is now around S$200,000 ($164,000) although head hunters say some candidates are managing to get around S$250,000 - not far from the base salary of a top banker.

Risk officers in banks focus on keeping trading and lending activites within safe limits, while compliance officers ensure the company is meeting the plethora of industry regulations, which have mushroomed in the wake of the financial crisis.

"Now that risk is really briefing the board at every meeting, the risk officer has to be a much more senior level hire with more gravitas, with more influence and communication skills," said Lisa Zonino, a principal at recruiter Egon Zehnder in New York.   Continued...