The legal and compliance recruitment market, generally buoyant at this time of year due to regulatory reporting deadlines being hit and bonus season concluding, has also seen a downtick since the start of COVID-19.
However, given that legal and compliance roles are often considered business-critical and mandated by regulators, we are seeing pockets of activity within the investment management industry and demand for highly skilled compliance officers and legal counsel remains relatively high compared to other areas.
We’ve seen firms recently make their first in-house legal counsel hire, in order to cut down on the retainers paid to external counsel prior to the pandemic, as part of their wider cost reduction measures being rolled out. Private wealth managers and family offices have also utilized this time to secure compliance professionals that have a strong track record of onboarding high net worth individuals or families and experience with the intricacies of AML and KYC.
While remote interview processes and onboarding have allowed firms to continue hiring within legal and compliance where required, certain areas have been impacted more than others. For example, firms with a dual-hatted CFO/CCO that had previously wanted to make a dedicated legal and compliance hire, have paused their interview processes temporarily.
As small and middle-market investment management firms put their processes on hold, larger investment management firms continued to move their hiring processes along, with focusing on securing compliance candidates with experience in operations (particularly client onboarding) and a demonstrable track record of effectively liaising with the front office (as communication and adherence to policies and procedures is even more difficult to deliver while businesses work remotely.)
Another specific area of hiring focus has been monitoring and surveillance within hedge funds and quant firms, given the heightened need for oversight and controls around potential market manipulation. Similarly, firms have been discussing business continuity plans with their compliance departments, given the unprecedented situation they’re facing. This opens the door to candidates with a wider skillset in corporate/internal compliance.
Salaries in legal and compliance have remained the same as pre-COVID levels, as the firms prioritizing hiring are still able to make offers at their normal levels and have seen a minimal impact from the current situation.
Read the investment management half year market update: accounting & finance here.
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