Sure, litigators may make the big bucks. However, according to an October survey of top C-suite executives, it’s risk and compliance that companies should place a larger focus on moving forward. And now, according to recruiters, the demand for compliance expertise has grown even greater than the supply of risk lawyers.
According to a Reuters report, compliance officers have become the new “power brokers” of Wall Street, commanding top dollar and determining the direction of companies. After the struggles stemming from the financial collapse of 2008, recent large fines such as HSBC’s $1.8 billion fine for money laundering, and the current legal troubles of companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase (which has incurred $9.2 billion in legal bills this year), companies are slowly realizing that risk management should be a top priority.
“Compliance is very hot,” legal recruiter Jack Kelly told Reuters. “It just takes one or two firms to really get hit hard, get very negative media attention and pay heavy fines, and it’s a wake up call not just for them but for all the other firms.”
J.P. Morgan is leading the charge on compliance hiring, planning to hire 3,000 employees to the company’s risk and compliance control staff while also reassigning 2,000 current employees to the division. In total, the bank plans on committing an additional $4 billion to risk and compliance than was originally budgeted to this upcoming fiscal year.
This means that, where there were previously many top options in the marketplace, the selection has gone down. And when coupled with an expected decrease in law school class sizes, many in-house compliance programs may be left scrambling.
“It’s hand-to-hand combat to get and keep qualified people,” Ellen Zimiles, head of the investigations and compliance practice at the consulting firm Navigant, told Reuters. Zimiles said clients have hired groups of her consultants in the rush.
If companies are looking to hire risk and compliance help, now should be the time. With demand outweighing supply, if a company waits too long, it may be left out in the cold.