Legal and compliance has had a golden decade since the 2008 financial crisis. While the majority of those working in finance have laboured under cutbacks and stiff capital requirements, their headcount and influence has grown. The plethora of regulations, covering everything from capital and corporate governance to disclosure and diversity has led to financial institutions bulking up their workforces. “You have to build an industrial-scale operation just to digest all the regulatory changes,” says Colin Bell, HSBC’s chief compliance officer.
Every one of Europe’s top 10 banks and 18 of the top 20 have been fined for money laundering offences in the past decade. NCA says the £150bn laundered annually in the UK represents “a very big problem”. HSBC, which was fined $1.9bn in 2012 for banking Mexican drug money, has around 5,000 employees in anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance. Standard Chartered, which has coughed up $1.1bn for breaches of sanctions, has 3,500. At the end of 2018, some 30,000 (or 15%) of the 204,000 employees of Citigroup, worked in compliance, risk and other control functions – enough to fill half of the Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club. This is a vast increase when compared to 2008, where just over four percent of employees worked in legal and compliance.
In a complex regulatory landscape, professionals who ensure their employer plays by the rules of an ever-changing game are in high demand. A global study of risk and compliance officers at 800 financial firms in 2018 found that 43% expected their team to grow in the next 12 months. In the UK, industry bodies ACFE and the UK chapter of ACAMS represent members from a wide range of financial institutions, regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and industry sectors. The bodies are dedicated to enhancing the knowledge, skills and expertise of professionals in this sector.
Based in the City of London, our consultants are specialists in their markets, recruiting top talent for organisations across the legal and compliance jobs market throughout the UK and Europe.