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Hiring in the Americas – compliance decentralisation or an industry developing?

Over the last 14 years of trading we have seen our EMEA and APAC Compliance Practices continually expand geographically to cover more and more of their respective regions. But up until recently, our New York headquartered Americas practice, has been largely focussed on New York based recruitment.

Over the last 12 months, however, we have seen a dramatic surge in demand for compliance talent in other hubs across the US, and the broader Americas region. We must stay on top of hiring trends globally, and as such, it is important to discuss this one in the Americas.

Let’s be honest, the development of hubs outside of New York is not something that has just been happening over the last 12 months, but there are certain big trends in the industry – the ballooning of FinTech on the West Coast, shifts towards consumer banking by historically investment banking focussed firms, and ‘near-shoring’, for example – that draw our attention to this geographical shift away from the New York Financial Services ‘super power’.

Let’s not get carried away though…the New York compliance hiring market remains buoyant, currently very active, and undoubtedly the ‘Centre of the Universe’…well, at least for the US. But there is definitely a theme of ‘decentralisation’ in the air at many firms with focus shifting away from the Big Apple, and resulting in fresh or increased hiring need in other locations.

As New York is undoubtedly the biggest market with the deepest talent pool in compliance, it is an obvious target for hiring managers building out teams in other locations. For the New York compliance community, this means that whilst the local market is booming, there is a call for their skills all over the country.

Where and why is this happening?

Ok, so we are seeing increased demand for talent outside of New York, but where and why is this happening? We think there are three distinct factors at play:

·     First, is the very straightforward factor of the other well-established Financial Services hubs, such as Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, etc. which quite simply need to be serviced. They all have established compliance communities, but often need to draw from other talent pools. We frequently help clients find talent locally, which is possible in these well-established markets, but there is often a need to ‘refresh’ local talent pools from elsewhere…usually New York.

·     Second, there is the phenomenon of ‘near-shoring’, the bigger brother of ‘off-shoring’ which essentially sees teams and / or functions relocated to lower cost centres outside of expensive metropolitan hubs. Most firms are doing this, and whether it be in Buffalo, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Whippany, etc., the theme repeats time and again. The issue with near-shoring locations is that they have either limited or non-existent talent pools to draw from for future hiring. The need for our help with this scenario speaks for itself.

·     The third, and arguably most exciting factor here are the big industry development trends mentioned above. Clearly everyone has been talking about FinTech for a while now, but we are seeing huge demand for compliance talent in this space; largely in the San Francisco Bay Area – for obvious reasons. In addition to the boom in FinTech, we are seeing ‘FinTech adjacent’ trends like traditional bulge bracket firms pushing into the digital arena – particularly within consumer banking. Similarly, some traditional parts of consumer banking are seeing huge growth with bulge brackets pushing into the mortgage space, amongst others. Interestingly with consumer banking, geographically, this sector of the industry knows no bounds, and the talent is scattered across the whole of the US. We have been recruiting in Dallas / Fort Worth, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Wilmington, the Bay Area, and beyond.

So what does this mean for the compliance population?

We all know that the Financial Services Industry is forever morphing and developing, and after just examining the trends discussed above, it seems that the geographical trends in compliance hiring are quite simply a reflection of a phase of development within the industry, layered on top of the BAU hiring in the established hubs.

The crux of this, of course, is how does this phase of development change the landscape of the compliance profession? Will there be an increase in compliance opportunities? How will hiring managers build strong teams in the face of talent being spread across a country or region? And ultimately, what is the outlook for the compliance community moving forward.


We genuinely believe that this is an exciting time to be working within the regulatory arena. After the recent scaremongering around deregulation and retraction of compliance, there are many ways in which the industry is developing that will continue to require strong compliance professionals, and arguably grow the profession. We are seeing new and exciting opportunities out there, but often in different fields to the traditional investment banking heavy industry.

The long and short of it is this: in a changing industry, compliance folk must be open to new locations, new sectors, and changes in direction – albeit within the broader compliance world – in order to grow their compliance careers to full capacity.

Finding the right talent

For hiring managers, the current challenge is finding the best talent in each location. This is a perennial problem wherever you are, of course, but with the added trend of ‘decentralising’ compliance functions away from New York, and the uprising and expansion of non-traditional FS activity, the talent isn’t necessarily where the business need is.

This is where our business model of networking, and genuinely getting to know the market in all locations always brings results. Plus we are specialists in the compliance field.

We don’t just regurgitate the same old resumes of the ‘active market’ but go to great lengths to find the best talent. We travel regularly to other hubs – most recently, Chicago in May – and are frequently meeting new talent in all locations. We use our global perspective to forecast trends and strategize on how to work with them.

The outlook for compliance

We are not financial analysts, regulators, or politicians, and certainly do not have a crystal ball to tell the future, but what we can do is pull together our collective global experience to navigate and advise on hiring in the face of industry changes.

We feel the compliance arena is in an interesting spot, globally, and specifically in the Americas region we see opportunity for exciting growth.

We are always more than happy to have discussions about opportunities, your career, or hiring, depending on what perspective you are coming from. Please feel free to reach out at any time.

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