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Seven reasons why compliance candidates want new jobs

Exit motivations

If you work in compliance in Hong Kong or Singapore you remain in high demand, unless you have a particularly bad recent track record of job hopping. Banks in Asia continue to hire apace in your function (around 12% of all Standard Chartered’s Singapore vacancies are in compliance, for example).

But with nearly all banks having recently boosted their base pay, compliance job seekers are becoming less money motivated this year and are moving firms for a wider variety of reasons.

“On the surface it may seem that banks paying big pay increments is the main driver for compliance people, but in many cases they are being counter-offered, so if pay were their sole reason they would have stayed on,” says Lucy Allcard, manager of legal, compliance and audit at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Singapore.

Here’s what’s really causing compliance candidates to change banks.

1. Stress

“The key driver isn’t pay rises – the most common reason I’ve been hearing recently is that the role has a lot more pressure and workload,” says Pathay Singh, managing director at recruiters Compliance Grid in Hong Kong. “If there are jobs with a better work-life balance most candidates will consider a move, although this may not reflect well on them long-term, as resilience under time constraints is the number-one credential banks are seeking.”

2. Big bonuses

“One of the new key success factors in attracting compliance professionals is for employers to offer attractive total compensation packages,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director of recruitment firm Hays in Singapore. “In most cases, compliance professionals are being paid out large bonuses – sometimes far more than in other areas of the bank. Lured by bonuses, we’re seeing more and more compliance candidates moving jobs.”

3. Hot skills

Some areas of Asian compliance are hotter than others – and right now everyone wants to work in financial crime.

“A lot of candidates are interested in developing their skill set in financial crime,” says Orelia Chan, senior manager, legal, compliance, audit and risk, at recruitment agency Robert Walters in Singapore. “The most in-demand compliance skills usually change every two or three years, so when another hot area comes up, candidates may show interest in gaining exposure by changing jobs.”

4. Sudden restructuring

“We are privy to stories from candidates who are seeking new employment very soon after joining a firm, citing that the role was significantly misrepresented to them,” says Kate Reid, an associate director at recruitment company Eximius Group in Hong Kong. “This can often be a product of banks restructuring, across divisions or even across the entire region.”

5. Culture clash

“When people join they might realise that the office culture is very different from the picture that was painted at the interview,” says Winnie Leung, director of regional compliance at Pure Search in Hong Kong. “Or sometimes the bank’s compliance framework is very behind the market. There are things you don’t know until after you start the job.”

6. Global disconnect

If you’re working for a global bank in Singapore or Hong Kong, the ultimate boss of your compliance team won’t be based locally. This can be frustrating, says Allcard from Morgan McKinley. “One of the reasons we hear for compliance candidates moving jobs is that they feel there’s little understanding from their current bank’s global heads about local regulation.”

7. Under the spotlight

When the media spotlight shines too brightly on banks that are involved in a high-profile regulatory breach, their compliance staff can get itchy feet. Allcard says some people move because they don’t want to be “associated’ with specific banks when under investigation.

Image credit: CPCollinsPhotography, iStock, Thinkstock

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager
  • Mu
    Muzzil Khairat
    12 April 2016

    I think the article may have missed out some points where compliance candidates not only comprise those in the financial institutions. There is a growth of appreciation on the importance of the compliance role among multinationals in slowly-but-surely regulated industries in states such as Malaysia and Philippines.

    The article did accurately points out the frustration faced by compliance personnel but as a compliance officer with experience in the oil and gas industry, the problem is, despite recognition of the role's importance, there is lack of investment in career development for us. Specific areas of compliance (aside from financial crime) such as, among others, economic sanctions, export controls, competition law, personal data protection, and human rights consume a lot of training budget. In such a situation, companies are hesitant to invest in neither external nor online training.

    Under-appreciated compliance officers such as myself would then, at our personal time and costs, invest in ourselves by applying for post-graduate courses, finding out on-demand-webinars and free-of-charge global legal and compliance updates. As we prepare to leave the company for greener pastures, the company will then label us as not being loyal.

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