Financial Reform

The one job banks and hedge funds can't fill

March 13, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

New regulations for banks and financial firms mean a booming market for experienced internal watchdogs.

By Alex Konrad, reporter

FORTUNE -- The banking industry has cried foul over the additional burden of Dodd-Frank regulations taking effect soon, but they mean a boom in business for compliance officers. "Prior to the crash in 2008, compliance was never viewed as a sexy area," says Mitchell Peskin, a partner at the ExecuSearch Group. "Now it's a growth area." Some, like TD Bank (TD), bolstered their staff in 2010, but recruiters say a big hiring rush will start this summer as the Volcker Rule takes effect.

The surge appears to be already underway at a number of major job sites. TheLadders had over 100 listings for compliance officers last month, with New York, Chicago, and Dallas the top three listed locations. At America's Job Exchange, listings in the compliance space have exploded: There were 9,148 jobs with "compliance" in their title for the second half of 2011, up from 221 a year ago, according to company president, Rathin Sinha.

What you'll do

Financial firms need their own compliance officer to oversee activities and report directly to top management. Knowledge of the regulations and writing skills are critical. At investment banks, an officer will report within a compliance vertical of up to 50 employees under the bank's general counsel, says Peskin. Companies will also increasingly activate new compliance software to meet the regulations, so candidates must be prepared to work closely with information technology staff.

At regional and community banks, compliance officers must reconcile municipal bonds with regulatory constraints, which will create major job demand in that space, says Wayne Abernathy, an executive vice president at the American Bankers Association (ABA). He notes with some concern, however, that demand for compliance jobs might come at the expense of layoffs for other managers to offset salary.

The upcoming Volcker legislation could force thousands of banks to assume greater regulatory risk when dealing in munis, a major part of their business. Compliance officers at smaller banks would then have to work closely with in-house legal teams to consider whether the effort is worth the added business cost.

What you need

Chief compliance officers must have extensive experience; less exposed banks can hire those who have just five years in the industry. Well-qualified candidates may find themselves able to pick and choose their positions, while smaller-market banks may have to settle for candidates who pick up expertise as they go. "People are going to have to be hired as warm bodies to learn on the job," says Jody Moore of MSI Consulting.

The ABA offers training for lower-level hires, but a law degree is critical for high-level positions. Leadership and good presence in the boardroom also help as compliance officers at investment banks and hedge funds work with top management. And you'll have an ace up your sleeve if you've worked at one of the regulators or have already helped a company go through the transition process in your previous post.

What it pays

$70,000 to $90,000 at smaller banks; $150,000-plus at investment banks and hedge funds

Who's hiring

Companies like BNY Mellon (BK), First Bank of Texas, MetLife (MET), and PNC Financial Services Group (PNC).

A shorter version of this article appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of Fortune.

  • Lawyers, Lobbyists and Money

    That sound you hear coming from Washington is the sound of every lawyer and lobbyist strapping on his or her battle gear and heading for the war zone.

    Today President Obama signs the financial industry's nightmare into law. Huge hanks of the way Wall Street likes to do business will for the first time be regulated, certainly impairing every cowboy's ability to ride the range with his six-shooter and stallion, knocking MORE

    - Jul 21, 2010 12:03 PM ET
  • JPMorgan gets a splinter in its pinky

    Hilarious news comes today that JPMorgan Chase was socked with a "record" fine from the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the banking industry and protecting the public from its potential depredations.

    According to the Authority, the bank "committed a serious breach of our client money rules by failing to segregate billions of dollars of its clients' money for nearly seven years... This penalty sends out a strong message MORE

    - Jun 3, 2010 5:01 PM ET
  • A shout out to lobbyists

    The Daily Beast today reports that "As Congress debated the financial reform bill, 850 business, trade groups and other corporate interests threw over 3,000 lobbyists at Capitol Hill and spent over $1.3 billion in 2009. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the way with its contingent of 85 lobbyists with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association tossing in another 54 of their own. Around 175 groups involved in the MORE

    - May 21, 2010 10:55 AM ET
  • Nightmare on Wall Street

    Idea for a terrifying new movie:

    Guy has it all. Big house. Big car. Big spouse, but not that big. Two nice kids who go to a big private school. Big dog, even. Every day he gets in his big car and goes to his big, big office, where he trades in derivatives and brunches, lunches, and dines with friends at ratings agencies who love him big-time and give triple-A ratings MORE

    - May 14, 2010 11:17 AM ET
    Posted in:
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Washington and Brussels

    Here's the way it goes: one group of greedy, inventive mothers cooks up a whole bunch of ways to make money off of their intricate knowledge of the system and how it operates. Some of those ways are even legal under the rules, which were cleverly manipulated ahead of time. Others were not legal, but were not punished until it became fashionable to do so. This group does its thing until MORE

    - May 10, 2010 11:10 AM ET
  • Wall Street protects the American Dream

    Our Republican brothers having fallen before the scythe of temporary public opinion, the debate in the Senate has at last been joined.  Today we line up behind Team Lloyd and strap on our best pinstripe, wing-tips, and chrome domes. The future of irrational, unseemly wealth is at stake. We have partied hard in the past and awakened to some bad mornings after. But those cotton-mouthed sunrises have done nothing to dim our MORE

    - Apr 29, 2010 3:51 PM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.