Career Management in a Buoyant Compliance Market

July 11

Whether you are a graduate considering a move in to Compliance or a Compliance professional with 15 years’ experience, managing the trajectory of your CV and making the right career decisions can be a difficult task. It is plain to see that we are in the middle of a very buoyant compliance market; making the best decisions for your career, in such a market, can actually be more daunting given the number of opportunities that may be presented to you. Having recruited specifically in the Compliance market for a number of years, in this article, it is my intention to outline the key factors that you should consider when making your career decisions.

Market Overview

In order to discuss this topic, it would be remiss not to give an overview of the compliance market as it stands from Q1 2018. The Compliance market throughout 2017 and into Q1 2018, has remained extremely buoyant with a particular demand for professionals with experience relating to Financial Crime, MiFID, AIFMD, Data Protection and Consumer Protection. It has also been evident that many larger firms continue to recruit specialists, whilst smaller firms are seeking generalist compliance practitioners. Brexit related contingency planning has also played its part in the increasing demand for strong compliance professionals. 2017 also saw the emergence of the casually coined “one and a half line” role due to the ever-increasing need for improved lines of communication between the first and second lines of defence.

Transferable Skills

Bearing current market conditions in mind, it is important to assess what transferrable skills and academic background that you have when considering your next move. With demand for Compliance professionals soaring, firms are having to widen the net when it comes to their search for suitably qualified candidates for certain roles. Compliance Monitoring roles, for example, have increased dramatically over the past year and it is very evident that there is a shortage of candidates who have the skill set or appetite to take up such roles. Qualified Accountants and Auditors are highly sought after for such positions given the perceived mindset. GDPR is another example as demand for suitably experienced candidates has been soaring. Given the supply shortage, many firms have had to assess skills sets that might be transferrable into these roles, with IT professionals and Lawyers being increasingly considered for Data Protection specific compliance roles. In order to make the best career decision, therefore, it is very important for you to know your marketability to prospective employers based on your transferable skills to any individual role and business.

Technical Knowledge

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It has been traditionally difficult for candidates to move from certain sectors of the Financial Services industry to another. This fact remains true in many instances, so with this in mind, it may be wise, when considering to approach the market, to consider what technical regulatory knowledge you have and which business types will be interested in your profile.[/pullquote]

It has been traditionally difficult for candidates to move from certain sectors of the Financial Services industry to another. This fact remains true in many instances, so with this in mind, it may be wise, when considering to approach the market, to consider what technical regulatory knowledge you have and which business types will be interested in your profile. It is logical to think, for example, if you are a subject matter expert relating to CPC, Retail Banking or Insurance firms would be of interest. In recent months, however, I have seen these borders begin to narrow, as many firms start looking at candidates with wider governance experience from different sectors of the Financial Services industry when they are hiring for Compliance professionals.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

When considering a move, sometimes it is wise to exhaust internal options before looking externally. This can be determined by your level and positioning in your current organisation. For example, a very common situation I have seen is the desire for first-line operational candidates looking to make the move into Compliance. You may have made the decision to move into compliance and are undertaking your ACOI exams but are finding it difficult to get that break. In this situation, perhaps, it would be best to look internally for some regulatory exposure in your current role so that you can then show some relevant experience to the market. Furthermore, if you are a more seasoned compliance professional looking to take the step up to Senior Manager level, this can be a very competitive bracket in the market so progressing your career to that level internally could be the best move in the long run and make you more attractive externally when you do decide to move on.

CV Enhancement/Salary

In every step of your career, it is important to ask yourself, would this move enhance my CV? Sometimes, when asking this question, taking your current salary into account can be an important point. If you are trying to diversify your regulatory knowledge, for example, or indeed move into a firm that is regulated differently, you may need to consider taking a step back in responsibility and/or salary in order to achieve such a move. Keeping in mind how the firm is regulated and how it is rated on the PRISM scale can be an important point. Many employers, when considering candidates will take into account the extent of Central Bank oversight your role has involved; this is particularly important at the more senior level of the market. Likewise, as you progress through the ranks of your career, a common occurrence is to seek diversification. It is important to think logically that as your salary and responsibility levels increase, the more expectation there will be upon you to have specific regulatory knowledge. It might, therefore, in such a situation, be wise to take a step back in level, to secure an opportunity with exposure to different pieces of regulation.


Career enhancement can be dependent on you making the right decisions at the right times. Knowing current market conditions and how you fit in when taking into account the skill sets in demand, at any given time, is a vital part of this process. Yes, continued education through the ACOI plays a vital part in managing your career, however, you can also take your career into your own hands, at any given time through making informed decisions.

*This article appeared in the Summer edition of ICQ Magazine available here.

About the Author

Donal Whelan

Director – Compliance, Risk & Financial Services 1 661 0444

Donal is a recruitment professional with over 6 years experience across the Compliance, Risk and Finance markets. Donal currently manages the Compliance and Risk disciplines at Lincoln Recruitment Specialists. He has an in-depth understanding of the compliance and risk recruitment market with a strong network of contacts. He has successfully worked with many national and multi-national companies in Ireland, who were either establishing new compliance and risk departments or expanding their in-house teams.

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