Salaries are shooting up for compliance professionals in China as the regulatory burden rises and candidates remain hard to find.
Chinese compliance pay was “going through the roof” this year for those moving between banks, said Alex Eymieu, a financial services partner at search firm CTPartners in Hong Kong. “The average raise this year is about 25 percent,” he said. “But for really good executives, I’ve even seen pay almost double.” Sign-on bonuses were also becoming common, said Johannes Tan, head of financial services at headhunters PSD Group in Shanghai.
Just as in the US or UK, compliance experts who can command the biggest raises and pay typically have worked for four or more years at a major regulator – in China the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Banking Regulatory Commission are the most influential. Good candidates also hold a masters degree from a top Chinese or international university, Eymieu said. “China is a controlled economy where compliance people have very close relationships and daily contact with regulators. If you have work experience with a regulatory agency, you would easily get two or three offers from foreign and local banks or securities firms,” he said.
Higher demand for such people means even if you stay with your current employer, you can negotiate a good salary increase. The pay range for heads of compliance in China this year starts at 1.1m yuan ($177k), a jump of about 10 percent compared with 2012, according to data from recruiters Robert Walters.
Along with a plethora of ever-changing local laws, banks in China are staffing up to deal with international regulations, said Fabrice Isnard, manager of banking and financial services at Robert Walters China. Recruiters said Basel III has been generating the most jobs recently, particularly since December when Chinese regulators set out a timetable for banks in the country to implement the new capital requirements, which have been agreed upon by banks globally in response to the financial crisis.
The supply of compliance professionals in China lags demand, said Neadin Ni, a Shanghai-based financial services consultant at recruitment agency Morgan McKinley. The growth of international banks in China, the largest of which are HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citigroup, is also increasing demand for compliance talent. Many foreign banks are hiring “aggressively” in China, said Fabrice Isnard, manager of financial services at Robert Walters China. Financial regulation is the number-one challenge facing these firms, according to the PwC report, Foreign Banks in China 2012.
A Shanghai recruiter, who asked not to be named because of client confidentiality, said Standard Chartered had recently ramped up its compliance team from six to 10 people in consumer banking. UOB, the Singapore bank, had increased its compliance headcount, while HSBC was now recruiting, he added. The banks did not respond to requests for comment.
Difficulties in poaching people from the regulators has added to a shortage of available talent for banks and and securities firms, said Eymieu from CTPartners. “It takes more than six months to release someone who wants to join the private sector, and the government retains the right to approve or refuse any hiring or termination of employment for compliance professionals at financial services firms.”