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So, this is the likelihood you’ll make MD in compliance

Compliance careers

You have as much chance of getting promoted in a compliance job as climbing a mountain in flipflops.

Compliance professionals are super hot. They are so hot that Barclays has a whole new Compliance Academy created in conjunction with Cambridge University in which it is fashioning the compliance professionals of the future. Michael Roemer, head of compliance at Barclays told Bloomberg that Barclays is using the programme to change its culture and value system and is spending approximately $300m a year on its compliance function and “tens of millions” on the Academy.

Do not assume, however, that this makes compliance a solid route to promotions and empowerment. It doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Financial News article on Barclays’ Academy clarified the precise percentage of Barclays’ compliance staff who are managing directors: 3%. Barclays has 1,500 compliance staff in total and only 40 of them are managing directors.

That’s not many.

If Barclays’ compliance professionals can’t really expect to make MD, where can they expect their careers to take them? Statistically, they have a high percentage of plateauing on the middle-levels: 1,200 of Barclays’ compliance staff are either AVPs, VPs, or directors. We assume that the remaining 260 are juniors. That’s not exactly a pyramidal structure.

We’ve written about the horrors of getting stuck in the middle ranks of banking jobs before. Goldman Sachs, for example, promotes around 300 MDs ever year, but has 12,000 vice presidents. However, Goldman’s pool of existing MDs is around 2,000 strong, or around 6% of its total staff.

OK, the compliance figures from Barclays and the MD figures from Goldman may not be entirely comparable, but assuming they’re slightly so, the implication is that it’s twice as difficult to get promoted to MD in compliance as elsewhere in a bank. Maybe compliance isn’t such a hot career after all.


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