Compliance hires rise as institutions seek staff for ‘converged’ units, ACFCS survey shows

Driven by aggressive regulatory enforcement and major penalties, financial institutions in recent months have scrambled to augment their financial crime compliance programs. The result has been a widely publicized hiring spree for AML analysts, BSA officers and other professionals in the compliance field.

A survey of ACFCS readers conducted over the last month confirms the surge in staffing, but paints a more complex picture of the financial crime field. The poll found that institutions are staffing for positions beyond the traditional AML/BSA roles, and that salaries have not necessarily kept pace with increased hiring.

Over 70% of organizations are currently hiring for compliance jobs, say respondents

Roughly 30% of respondents, largely from financial institutions, stated their organization or institution was not currently adding staff to financial crime compliance functions. However, the remaining 75% said their organization was either adding some new hires or expanding substantially. The results are summarized in the chart below.

(Numbers may total to more than 100% throughout the survey because respondents had the ability to select more than one response).

Notably, the upswing in has not necessarily led to significant increases in salary for financial crime compliance professionals. Only about 30% of respondents said they had seen an increase in salary between 5 – 10% over the past two years. Another 63% said pay had risen slightly or not at all, while the remaining 7% said salaries had actually declined.

AML remains driver, but institutions cast wide net for skills, experience

The majority of survey respondents indicated their organizations were looking for the usual suspects in the financial crime compliance field – AML and BSA officers. Given that many recent enforcement actions have honed in on weaknesses in AML programs at financial institutions, the result is perhaps unsurprising. Interestingly, just over 30% said their institution was seeking to hire for all-purpose financial crime positions, suggesting a trend toward unified “financial crime risk management” departments at some firms.

At the same time, compliance departments are adding staff in smaller numbers for emerging financial crime functions, like FATCA and anti-corruption. Roughly 14% of respondents said their departments were hiring for these positions.

Based on respondents, compliance departments are casting a wide net for hires in terms of background and experience. 46% said their department was seeking mid-level candidates with specialization in a compliance function, but nearly as popular were professionals from other roles within the financial services industry switching careers into compliance. Both entry level and senior hires were also sought, with 32% and 21% respectively.