2018 Compliance Salary Guide

Natalie Limerick 21.12.2017

Contract rates and salary guides for both temporary and permanent compliance professionals in London for 2018.

Click here to view the 2019 Compliance Salary Guide.

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Commentary on Compliance Roles and Remuneration in UK for 2018


The compliance jobs permanent market has remained buoyant throughout 2017 with activity across all areas. There were however certain roles within markets advisory, trade surveillance and AML advisory have been particularly active. In addition, senior level hiring increased in the market due to team expansion and growth. 

In spite of Brexit, banks have continued to demand top talent and hire within compliance which is a result of them experiencing healthier profit margins across various trading activities. There were a number of institutions penalised by the regulator which highlighted the increased necessity for AML professionals. Lastly, salary increases were a healthy level ranging between 15-20%. 

Positive & negative news

Across compliance jobs, the skills and experience that have been in demand were within the AML specialism. Large investment banks have been consistently under pressure in the past year to meet new demands from the regulator and improve controls. This reflected in their hiring, as job descriptions were emphasizing a need for skill sets and experience in this area. In particular, general AML vacancies have been the focus of mid sized firms and larger firms have continued to split responsibilities into more specialist positions. These vacancies have largely been at AVP/VP level and encompass advisory, sanctions, transaction monitoring and EDD responsibilities. Smaller companies including challenger banks also increased the size of their AML teams as they continue to gain traction and generate business from household names. 

For the first half of 2017, regulation and regulatory change was top of the agenda for recruitment across the permanent market. There was a notable trend towards hiring staff at the senior level and VP level focussing on candidate with expert knowledge of policies and implementing these. In particular, candidates with good knowledge of MiFID II have been in demand to ensure companies are prepared for its implementation in January 2018. Consultancies increased their demand for compliance professionals throughout the year which coincided with the trend of a decreasing need for professionals with generalist backgrounds and rather more specialised talent. This is a trend we predict to continue into 2018 as specialist knowledge is increasingly required in areas such as monitoring and policy. Not all negative for professionals from more generalist roles, as there seems to be a niche demand for these skills at asset managers within small teams.

Qualities and skills in demand

Key skills that were highlighted in 2017 include AML advisory including experience developing policies, procedures and frameworks. Regulatory change and GDPR skills remained high in demand, whilst surveillance has been consistently required throughout the year. Moving forward, job seekers should try to harness and improve their interpersonal skills as these are playing a more important factor in hiring manager's decision making. 

Most compliance jobs require an extremely high level of technical competence within their chosen sub-discipline. That is the one key element that distinguishes top level talent from the rest, however communication skills are becoming increasingly important. As such, job seekers with strong communication skills coupled with impeccable technical expertise stand out for employers. As these individuals are expected to effectively disseminate technical information across all functions of the business. The compliance function by nature is exposed to hostility from other areas of the business, which means the ability to build strong internal relationships, in pursuit of solution driven dialogue, becomes crucial.

Outside of work

Job seekers can look at ways to improve their career prospects by undertaking further training and additional compliance qualifications. Examples of such qualifications are those in direct relation to specific regulations include ACAMS / ICA Diploma Financial Crime and CISI (Combating Financial Crime) for financial crime professionals. Beside the personal knowledge gained from completing these qualifications - this also demonstrates to possible future employers a willingness to learn and embrace change from a personal perspective. 

Another aspect for individuals to consider is personal development courses, potentially in relation to human relations and confidence in public speaking. Courses such as these are very valuable to those who have daily interaction with the business, clients and senior stakeholders; as they provide advice on key pieces of regulation and have to gain confidence in their ability to build trust from their retrospective peers. Networking will continue to be encouraged amongst compliance professionals to grow their network and share knowledge.

Notable trends 

Similar to 2016, there was an increasing demand for diversity in the workplace throughout the year from a corporate perspective, in particular gender balance within compliance departments. Clients have requested that their recruitment partners ensure a more diversified shortlist of candidates with certain organisations requesting an even split of males and females on their shortlists. 

Many clients have stated that they would be happy to meet with strong female candidates in the view of potentially creating an opportunity for them, even if there isn’t necessarily a vacancy. These are just some of the methods clients are utilising to ensure they have a diverse workforce. Clients have become increasingly willing to consider strong regulatory professionals from wider European jurisdictions, as well as the Far East, Australia and America. This is as a results of a possible skills shortage within the UK market. 


Commentary on Compliance Roles and Contract Rates in UK for 2018

Brexit uncertainty created a turbulent year for temporary hiring, yet core compliance, regulatory and financial crime areas saw growth.


2017 was a challenging year for interim compliance professionals, which can be seen as impending uncertainty in the market caused by Brexit. A number of the larger banks and financial services firms have halted their project based hiring until decisions become clearer on the exit strategy. This became evident as there was a year on year decrease in job volumes of 22% when compared to 2016. 

However, it wasn’t all negative and we have experienced a market shift with a number of firms, particularly custodians, asset managers and smaller banks. These firms have become more consistent in their demand for talent throughout the year. This is vastly different when compared to recent years where Tier 1 banks have been the biggest hirers in the market. Larger banks are focussing on utilising their internal mobility with their onsite recruitment teams to manage their talent needs,  only later extending jobs to agency partners.  This shift in market conditions has allowed greater flexibility when hiring as smaller firms are less siloed and are searching for wider, more general coverage. 

Positive & negative news

As mentioned, compliance contracting job volumes decreased in 2017, partly due to market conditions but also related to the previous year’s trend of near and offshoring of functions such as KYC. There has been growth in smaller consultancies taking such projects, which has reduced job volumes in 2017. Although a decrease in hiring overall, there is positive news with significant growth experienced in core compliance, regulatory and financial crime areas. A number of Tier 1 banks have hired within financial crime and anti financial crime advisory, partly due to SEC and FCA fines, but also to ensure compliance within the European Union Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. This is in conjunction with a greater emphasis on sanctions of individuals and countries such as North Korea and Russia. With regulatory roles increasing and MiFID II coming into effect for European financial markets, we can expect a large number of changes. These include alterations to pre and post trade transparency, organised trading facilities and transaction reporting which will all ultimately change the face of investor protection. 

From a recruitment perspective, 2017 has been a hugely active and buoyant year for MiFID II hiring. MiFID II is one of the big projects not affected by Brexit. The majority of MiFID II based hiring has been in project roles, thus encompassing the hiring of business analysts, project managers, programme managers and PMO's. These individuals will have to work closely with legal and compliance departments to implement frameworks in which to make sure the firms are compliant to the regulatory changes that MiFID II will enforce as of January 2018. There are specialist areas within MiFID II which are require very niche skills, and individuals with these skills can demand a higher daily rate and/or salary. The most in demand and higher paid areas of MiFID II hiring have been investor protection and product governance. Although there is the deadline in place for January 2018, there will be a post implementation period in which more BAU staff will continuously be needed throughout the first half of 2018. 

Qualities and skills in demand 

Within the contracting market, the main skills that have been in demand have included; Product advisory, the main reason for this is a result of permanent staff not moving on after the bonus period as was anticipated when compared to the behaviour from previous years. Therefore there were less advisory candidates readily available in the market. Demand is still high for regulatory change professionals with both SME and project based experience. This is no surprise given the myriad of regulatory change and deadlines such as MiFID II, GDPR, CASS, benchmarking and the payment service directive (PSD2). 

Rates in both advisory and regulatory have continued to grow, particularly at the VP level, whilst monitoring has been consistently in demand throughout last year. Guideline monitoring and generalist asset management are two areas with a shortage in contractors, especially with guideline monitoring talent with specific coding experience.  Given the scope of roles, individuals who are responsible for a range of duties such as monitoring, regulatory, best execution, PA dealing, gifts & entertainment and financial promotions are highly desirable. 

Outside of work 

Not necessarily an out of work aspect to consider, but people from a law enforcement/government agency are in high demand - especially within the AML/Financial Crime/Fraud spectrum at present. ACAMS and CISI diplomas are continuously seen well within the market amongst senior managers. These are also looked at highly if people are looking to get into compliance at the junior end, thus showing their genuine intention and interest in doing so. With internal movement becoming increasingly more frequent with people moving in between departments and disciplines which is a positive for firms for cost saving initiatives as well as upskilling of staff.

Notable trends

As businesses look to address the gender pay gap, we have seen a number of firms looking to increase women in senior management positions, especially within the financial services sector. There has been a huge push on addressing the ratio of women in managerial roles. There have been growing requests from organisations for agency partners to specifically send women who have experience in leadership positions directly to them. 

Remote working or flexible working is becoming more important to the workforce. As a result, firms are becoming more adaptable and embracing a more flexible outlook particularly when attracting and retaining talent. Near and offshoring continue to be prevalent in today’s market, especially with larger banks. With firms demanding more transactional type roles like KYC, AML and a number of operational  functions. This is for an initial cost save, met with mixed reviews by managers who are evaluating whether this is the right decision and will have to closely monitor this. Short term cost saving can cause longer term remediation which may mean increased hiring and further spend.

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