If you work in compliance your services are sought after across all major financial centres. Recruitment is happening on a large scale – HSBC alone hired 2,200 compliance staff globally just in the first half of 2015.
With compliance skills in high demand and short supply, salaries are rising and staff are becoming more able to move internationally.
So where should you base yourself to secure the best paid compliance jobs? To find out, we looked at recent compensation surveys from recruitment firms and produced the charts below comparing average compliance base pay (in US$) in the UK, US, Hong Kong and Singapore across five levels of seniority.
At the start of your compliance career, London offers the most lucrative average salaries – $72k and $99k for analyst and associates respectively. Upward pressure on compliance pay is, however, “levelling out” in the UK, says James Findlay, head of risk and compliance at recruitment firm Selby Jennings in London. “The job market is starting to become more adapted to the increased financial regulations affecting all institutions.”
Base pay shoots up significantly at VP level, with the US taking the lead globally and even laggard Singapore offering average salaries of $145k. Findlay says talent shortages mean candidates with between five and seven years’ experience are “always the most difficult to recruit for within the compliance space”.
If you reach the rank of director there is very little difference between gross salaries in all four financial centres, which makes Singapore and Hong Kong compelling locations because of their much lower income tax rates. Only $13k and $6k separate Singapore and Hong Kong respectively from the US in top place.
At MD-level, head to New York or at least to London. Banks typically base global compliance roles in those cities, pushing up base pay ahead of Asia, where MDs are more likely to only have regional responsibilities.
Compliance professionals at all levels can usually command high salary rises if they move to a new bank. In London increments of up to 15% are on offer, says Findlay, while Singapore’s more severe skill shortages mean 25% increases are common, adds Orelia Chan manager, legal, compliance and audit, at recruiters Robert Walters in Singapore. “We typically see the highest rises for candidates in AML, advisory and product-compliance functions,” says Chan.