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Compliance staff in Singapore cryptos anxious about jobs

For compliance roles at crypto firms, what a difference a year makes. Singapore-based compliance professionals working in junior to mid-level roles are feeling uneasy about their job security and many are seeking to cross over to join established banks.

“Many candidates are worried about job stability, especially those in a smaller set-up,” says Selicia Low, senior consultant, banking and financial services, at Ambition in Singapore.

The mood swing comes after a rough period that saw valuations in the crypto industry knocked sharply lower along with other assets during mayhem that gripped global markets during the first half of 2022. “We’ve all heard about and, so they [employees] never know when they will get the call that says ‘hey today is your last day at the company,’” says Low, referring to concerns as younger firms tighten their belts during the slowdown.

Low says her firm currently has about 10 to 15 mandates from banks seeking to hire for compliance-related roles, while there are no current mandates from crypto or fintech firms for similar jobs. “Crypto was on fire basically last year; I don’t think it's the same issue this year,” says Low.

For the most part, concerns over job security are affecting junior to mid-career professionals who are most likely to face the brunt of the redundancy wave. Senior-level professionals working in compliance roles at fintech companies are considered strategic hires and less likely to face the axe, Low says.

“Those with less than one year of experience [at a fintech firm] are looking to get out,” Low says.

As a general rule, junior to mid-level compliance professionals earn more at crypto-related firms than they would at a bank. However, for senior-level roles in compliance, banks generally offer a higher base salary, whereas crypto-firms offer packages that may include equity and other forms of compensation.

Low advises compliance professionals who value job security to look towards establishing their careers in the banking sector. For the most part, banks are receptive to hiring compliance experts from the crypto sector and typically offer base salaries that are up to 10% to 15% higher for workers who jump ship from their current employers.

Low says she remains upbeat on the career prospects offered by the crypto industry, adding that these jobs can be a good fit for workers who can tolerate less job security. Compliance professionals willing to take a job at a start-up in the fintech space generally report back that the roles are rewarding and multifaceted. Similar jobs at banks often require compliance officers to be more narrowly focused.

“Banks are really siloed,” says Low. “Being in a crypto firm with a smaller set up your job scope is broader.”

Low says she remains upbeat about the growth potential of the crypto space over the long term. “Those who are ready to take risks in their career and really want growth – why not just go for it?” says Low, referring to the rapid rate of growth among companies in fintech.

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

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