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Compliance is hot

Published on Saturday, 16 Aug 2014
Christine Wright

The recent heavy fines imposed on global banks for violating United States sanctions has put the financial industry on alert about the risks associated with exposure to money laundering. Banks have responded by hiring thousands of new compliance experts and are spending millions of dollars to improve their anti-money laundering (AML) programmes.

As a result, compliance (more specifically AML/sanctions) has shifted from what many candidates considered an uninteresting back-office function into the hottest job in banking.

Due to the skill shortage in Asia, the staff turnover rate in AML is alarmingly high. Compliance and AML professionals previously had a good reputation and were known as "stable" professionals. However, even the more conservative banks are being forced to consider applicants who have changed roles often in recent times.

This skills shortage puts pressure on banks, as they are forced to step up their employee value proposition strategies. Also, candidates are now commanding significant pay hikes compared to their revenue-generating counterparts.

While many of the major banks have been aggressively hiring to increase their AML/sanctions staff, as well as their due diligence teams, it is also worth mentioning that new kinds of jobs have recently materialised. For example, there is a shortage of talented applicants for vacancies in regulatory change and foreign account tax compliance. These up-and-coming positions provide high-paying options for talented candidates.

AML is expected to remain a very hot area of demand due to the rapidly evolving job descriptions and increasingly tough regulations.


Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia.

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