Cryptos help drive huge increases in Singapore compliance pay

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Cryptos help drive huge increases in Singapore compliance pay

If you thought fierce competition for talent in compliance in Singapore was a thing of the past, think again. Booming demand for compliance professionals – driven partly by hiring at crypto firms and work triggered by sanctions on Russia – has led to a price war to attract talent among rival financial firms in Singapore.

In a sign of a hot job market, candidates who are qualified for compliance roles ranging from regulation to anti-money laundering are typically weighing up three to four job offers, and salary increases of 18% above their prior positions, or in the high double digits for those joining major banks.

In a bid to retain compliance staff in the wake of bonus season, many financial institutions are even offering 15% salary increases to those who stay put, according to Vanessa Leonhardt, associate director, corporate governance, at The Edge Partnership. “The demand in private banking for regulatory compliance candidates has always been high, but I think it’s even more in 2022 because crypto exchanges and ecommerce platforms are all fighting for the same pool of candidates,” says Leonhardt.

Major financial institutions such as Bank of Singapore, Nomura and Standard Chartered have led the recruitment push, although new entrants – ranging from crypto exchanges to wealth management firms and family offices relocating out of Hong Kong – have added fuel to the hiring blitz, says Leonhart.

“Every bank is hiring in compliance at the moment, it’s just a question of which area of compliance they are hiring for,” she says, adding that banks are reporting that in recent weeks their staff have been poached by rival firms offering salary increases of 40% to 65%.

Another recruiter says the ongoing boom for compliance-related roles was partly due to a freeze on hiring at major financial institutions during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, with many firms now playing catch-up as restrictions on travel and social gatherings are relaxed.

“I think the world just realised ‘hey, we’re all still alive, Armageddon hasn’t happened, let’s get back to doing deals,’” says recruitment manager at Black Swan Group, Shingo Wong.

Wong said his firm is seeking to place 60 to 80 compliance professionals on behalf of clients, although the actual trend is likely slightly exaggerated as some employers are advertising “multiple headcounts at different seniority levels”. He says compliance positions have seen annual salary increases of about 18% in the last nine months, but the pace of gains should rise to 25% in the months ahead, especially for mid-to-senior level positions.

Recruitment experts say they are seeing strong demand for anti-money laundering jobs as well as roles tied to regulatory compliance, or jobs that require liaison work with regulatory bodies such as stock markets or crypto exchanges.

Wong says demand is higher for compliance professionals with ties to anti-money laundering, because of sanctions relating to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and other geopolitical tensions. “From a nature-of-work perspective, AML is more fast changing,” says Wong.

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

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