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Tighter rules mean high skills and pay

Published on Friday, 22 Nov 2013
Mark Enticott

As banks and financial organisations come to terms with operating in a regulatory world where new rules and requirements seem to be constantly emerging, the demand for experienced risk and compliance officers is pushing up salary levels.

According to recruitment and consulting firm Robert Half, salary increases offered to risk and compliance officers by Hong Kong banks have increased at about twice the rate of pay increases for similar positions in New York and London. In some cases, according to Hong Kong recruitment professionals, credit risk, compliance and anti-money laundering professionals can command pay increases of up to 30 per cent.

However, the need for banks and financial organisations to factor in pay increases is only part of the story. Philip Quinn, banking and finance managing consultant with Kelly Services, says banks' willingness to increase salaries reflects the smaller pool of experienced professionals available. In an already talent-squeezed market, Quinn says banks need to provide training to make sure there are sufficient compliance resources available.

Adding more pressure on the sector, Quinn believes moving into next year, smaller Hong Kong banks will feel the burden of meeting new compliance regulations. "If they have not already done so, across the board bankers are going to have to upgrade their skills through various financial programmes and qualifications," says Quinn.

Mark Enticott, managing director at Ambition in Hong Kong, says banks and financial organisations must ensure they have processes in place to attract and retain top risk and compliance performers.

"They need to stay ahead of the game in terms of offering the right balance of compensation and career options," says Enticott, who cautions that the alternative can result in long and costly job searches.

Chris Aukland, regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and Southern China, believes that to appeal to a broader risk and compliance candidate market, the Asian banking sector will continue to focus on strengthening employer branding.

Aukland says that, to attract and retain the best people, employers need to consider offering international rotation programmes, enhanced career development opportunities and competitive remuneration packages, as well as improved work-life balance initiatives.

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