This year’s hot sectors: risk and compliance

WE’VE been told that the boom years are over. The fast-growth sectors of City employment have ground to a halt. New job opportunities will be fewer and far between. Well, that is unless you work in risk and compliance: the fallout from the credit crunch has given a new lease of life to these sticklers for detail.

Ian Clark, Hays’s resident risk and compliance expert, says there is huge demand for these workers: “The last 18 months has seen an acute shortage of talent in this sector.” But what do these jobs involve, where are they going and how can you get in? We asked Clark for the inside scoop.

Q. What skills do you need?

A. For compliance, you need a legal or technical background. A strong, sound knowledge of risk and controls, audit and business review practices. The good jobs, of course, go to those with direct compliance experience. For risk, you need a mathematical background – a degree in maths, economics, engineering or science – a strong understanding of financial products and middle and back office practices within banks.

Q. What are the perks?

A. Lots of people don’t realise the high-level business exposure you get in these jobs. Risk and compliance employees usually deal directly with the chief operating officers and the board. There’s a lot of international travel too.

Q. What does it typically pay?

A. The remuneration packages in these sectors are much like they are in other banking jobs: you get all the healthcare packages, pension deals and bonus structures that you get elsewhere in the bank.

Depending on the bank, graduates earn between £25-35,000. The middle ranks are harder to define, but usually earn somewhere between £45-70,000. The higher echelons are rewarded with salaries over £80,000, with the <a href=""; target="_new">head of compliance</a> and chief risk officers sometimes earning £200,000.

Q. How do you get in?

A. I think the big banks have graduate schemes. JP Morgan, Bank of America and Barclays certainly do. Otherwise, those with complementary backgrounds might get in. For compliance, this might be a legal background. For risk, this might be strong experience in accountancy or mid-office product control.

Q. What makes you stand out against the crowd?

A. Businesses are always looking for leaders for these roles: people who are able to bring together stakeholders, by influencing and building rapport with everyone from the front right through to the back office. I don’t deal with graduates, but those who play team sports might stand out to recruiters.