Want to earn a giant salary in compliance? Work for an investment bank in a 'compliance advisory' unit. Want to earn giant pay in compliance? Go for a hedge fund that's offering a percentage deal - and will (hopefully) follow through on it.
Working at the coal face for what has long bee one of the hottest areas of investment banking recruitment, compliance recruiters say little has changed: banks, hedge funds, asset managers are still eager to hear from compliance staff. And they're still paying the most to the 'advisory' specialists who can sit down with sales and trading professionals in the front office and advise salespeople and traders how to work with products that conform to local regulations.
"You're going to get the highest pay in compliance if you're in product advisory," says James Findlay, global head of compliance and risk recruitment at Selby Jennings. "That applies as much in the City of London as on Wall Street."
While compliance advisory professionals earn more than their other compliance counterparts, they're not so well rewarded compared to the salespeople and traders they're helping out. A vice president (VP) level trader with around seven experience can expect a salary of £150k ($236k), plus a bonus of up to 200% (in London and at European banks globally). By comparison, Findlay says VP level compliance advisory professionals in London and on Wall Street are more likely to get £120k ($190k) all in. "You're never going to be paid on a par with the front office."
More promisingly, at director level, compliance recruitment firm Laurence Simons, puts average compliance advisory salaries at around £130k - considerably higher than salaries for directors in know your client (KYC) or anti-money laundering (AML), at £105k and £120k respectively.
Marnie Woolf of compliance recruitment firm Woolf & Co, says hedge funds are the best places for compliance professionals for whom pay is a priority. "There are some hedge funds that will offer compliance staff a percentage of their profits if they exceed a certain threshold," she tells us. Those hedge funds don't always pay out, however. Woolf recounts the sad story of one compliance professional who left his banking role for a job paying <£100k in salary at a hedge fund on the promise that he'd earn 2% of profits above a certain level. When that level was hit, the unfortunate compliance professional was let go...
More assuredly, recruiters say there's strong demand for contract compliance staff in senior reporting roles. Duncan Jeffrey at recruitment firm Compliance Professionals says senior compliance staff who have experience of CF10A reporting (reporting on client assets) can make up to £800 a day in London. "Every financial institution requires at least one expert in these roles – from a one man band all the way to the big players," says Jeffrey, "And there's a limited supply of these professionals in the market."