The most in-demand financial services roles

compliance risk management recruitment salaries

16 April 2024
| By Laura Dew |
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Compliance officers and managers are the most in-demand roles in financial services this year, according to recruitment manager Robert Half. 

In its 2024 Salary Guide, which surveyed 1,500 (500 employers and 1,000 employees), the firm said financial services businesses are seeking to hire individuals in roles focused on risk and compliance in light of increased regulatory activity.

The top five roles are compliance officers, compliance managers, finance managers, legal counsel and head of legal. 

ASIC has stated its 2024 enforcement priorities include poor distribution of financial products, greenwashing misconduct and compliance with the reportable situations regime, creating a high workload for compliance teams.

Salary ranges for compliance officers are $83,000–$127,000 rising to $136,000–$161,000 for compliance managers. 

Those earning salaries at the top end of range are those individuals who have rare qualification and are ready for the next career level, while those at a lower end are those who are new to the profession and require more day-to-day supervision.

Senior compliance managers, who could earn between $155,500 and $195,000, are also identified as the hardest area for firms to recruit.

For legal roles, a legal counsel could earn $105,000$164,500, while a head of legal could earn more than double this with a range of $238,500$333,500. 

Robert Half noted these ranges could increase by 7 per cent for employees in Sydney and by 5 per cent for employees in Melbourne, although those in Brisbane would need to decrease the range by 1.5 per cent.

In February, fellow recruitment firm Kaizen said it had observed “unusually high levels of staff attrition” on risk and compliance teams due to increased workloads. This was also coupled with structural risk project work across organisations, therefore stretching the capacity of lean teams. These challenges have been further exacerbated by businesses’ internal time to hire vacant roles, which is taking approximately four to six months.

Overall, half of business leaders in financial services are planning on increasing permanent headcount in 2024, but the firm acknowledged “retention is key” in light of a skills shortage. No financial services firm said they were reducing or freezing their permanent or contract staff, and only 3 per cent said they were considering pay cuts. 

But 20 per cent of employers said increasing salaries is affecting business revenue and profits, and 19 per cent said they will have to cut overheads to provide increases.

Nicole Gorton, director of Robert Half, said: “2023 was a turbulent year for employment in Australia business confidence dropped, which led to companies restructuring en masse. At the same time, 2023 saw the highest annual increase in wages since 2009. 

“This optimism is set to continue in 2024 with the majority of employers willing to offer salary increases, driven by annual inflation being more than twice the average of the previous decade and companies’ focus on retaining their talent.

“Pay-related decisions have become a balancing act. Businesses still need to ensure they are keeping pace with market rates for both new recruits and existing staff, while considering the potential impact of pay increases on their operations or company financials. Yet, it’s not without its challenges. Reevaluating and regularly benchmarking their remuneration policy against market changes without cutting too deep into the bottom line is essential to remain competitive and successfully meet the demands of the current job market.”  

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