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Market Intelligence Report

EMEA – Compliance

The final quarter of the calendar year normally sees some drop off in recruitment activity, however this year things didn’t really slow until mid – December. 

We saw large numbers of firms continue to expedite their Brexit planning with hiring going on across Europe with a particular focus on Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris.

The London market remained buoyant with the exception being the larger investment banking groups who were not as active as the smaller organisations.

Regulatory pressure and focus on the asset management/private banking sectors have seen significant demand for senior candidates in those sectors, with financial crime in particular being a massive growth area.

Q1 for 2019 has started with a flurry of activity with the contingency team working on a total of 41 new roles in the first four weeks of January.

EMEA – Risk

Model review remains a key hiring space pretty much across the board and inclusive of multiple different models especially market and counterparty risk as well as AIRB models. Additionally, we expect to see more live roles focused on validation of machine-built compliance / anti-fraud models.

Risk candidates with strong quantitative skills, either in model development or validation have been in high demand and this shows no signs of abating. Competition for the better candidates is likely to increase for those with a balance of coding / modelling skills, regulatory knowledge and the ability to work / communicate in a fast-paced business orientated environment.

We’re seeing an increasing demand in corporate credit risk. Especially for mid / senior level candidates with significant sanctioning authority and diverse sector experience in the UK and Western Europe.

Risk and control continues as a growth area. Candidates with balance of first and second line expertise are in demand and there are increasing requirements in consumer credit and fintech.

Cyber risk is considered one of, if not the key operational risk and this has been reflected in hiring especially at the larger multi business line banks and consultancies including the Big4 and boutique specialist firms.

Payments firms and fintechs continue to compete with banks for talent. Not necessarily in terms of compensation but these firms can offer more of an open mandate and / or the start-up environment which can be less corporate. This is often especially attractive to more junior candidates. One such example is Klarna which continues to build out having acquired Close Brothers Retail Finance in the UK.

We have seen an increase in senior risk roles in European centres beyond Frankfurt, including Dublin, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Madrid. These roles tend to be about increasing a presence for risk in Europe as opposed to the relocation of specific roles from London.

EMEA – Legal In-House

Q4 has continued to deliver a range of positions across the legal sector. There has been a notable taking of the lead by smaller institutions in terms of where the recruitment volume in the market is, with many small businesses recruiting a 1st, 2nd or 3rd lawyer and disruptive challenger institutions gaining considerable traction.  Parallel to this, there has been a trend on the part of larger banks and funds to await greater certainty around Brexit.

Brexit planning has continued apace with many institutions launching the risk and control functions within their Brexit HQs in Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg.  France and the Netherlands have also been busy for this reason.

EMEA – Legal Private Practice

Despite continuing political uncertainty the private practice partner level market continues as buoyant as ever across the majority of practice areas. There has been a real uptake in the number of lateral hires within the projects and energy space, an area previously fairly quiet, and continued activity in the real estate sector across both corporate and finance due to a continuingly busy market. Hiring does still continue to be mostly dominated by the US law firms with Baker McKenzie at the forefront this quarter.

Concerns around a slowdown post-Christmas have proved unfounded with teams now ramped up to full capacity. It has been good to hear a general consensus of continued positivity for the upcoming quarter.

EMEA – Consulting

The contract market remains buoyant despite economic and political uncertainty around Brexit. In 2018, financial services firms have been under increased scrutiny by the regulator to improve controls and meet regulatory demands and this continues into 2019.

We predict regulatory change, including the introduction of Senior Manager’s Regime across additional financial services sectors, and Brexit strategy across the banking sector in particular will have the biggest impact on the contract market in 2019. MIFiD II and GDPR were tackled in 2018 but some contracts continue to roll into 2019. On the whole, Brexit was approached tentatively by many firms and this will need to change this year. Interim legal support will predominantly mirror the compliance contract market.

Across compliance, there has been a demand for financial crime professionals linked to money laundering scandals and the implementation of the first wave of cryptocurrency regulations. We predict the 6th money laundering directive (6AMLD) and the payment services directive (PSD2) will continue to increase compliance contractor numbers within the financial services sector. The risk landscape is also changing with skills shortages in credit and market risk. With FRTB aiming to standardise the treatment of market risk and impose stricter global capital requirements, we predict the market risk contract market will expand.

Consultancy or interim support is often used to bridge the skills gap or as a tool to upskill the function whilst hiring for permanent professionals. In 2018 we saw a rise of interim hiring in financial promotions, central compliance, and monitoring and surveillance where hiring plans were delayed due to candidate shortages.

Many factors including the sector within financial services, geographical location and demand can affect the rates achieved by contractors.

Hong Kong

There has been a reasonable amount of senior level movement in both the compliance and financial crime space late last year and early this year and there are still a few moving pieces.

The impact of this is that there has been an increase in the number of candidates open to new opportunities who are seeing the changes in management as representing a good time to explore roles for themselves.

Through the majority of last year there was more activity on the buy side. This year once new heads are settled in their roles we expect to see more VP and Director level hiring from larger international banks as teams replace headcount and go through restructuring as the focus of the departments change under new leadership.

Smaller and mid-size firms are also expected to continue to incrementally grow their compliance and financial crime headcount but unless they face particular regulatory scrutiny we don’t expect high growth of headcount numbers.

Sales and trading product knowledge remains in demand for compliance officers and those people who can match legal and compliance backgrounds with an understanding of data and technology will be sought after.

Insurance is another busy area of hiring with compliance functions increasing headcount as the impact of the new insurance regulator is starting to be felt.


In Singapore Q4 is typically one of the busiest times of the year. With Singapore being a regional financial hub, businesses dash to replace candidates to avoid losing their headcount to other offices around the region.

The main moves have been in, cyber security, fraud, technology compliance and data privacy. Local banks have been focusing a lot on digital payment services and payment platforms.

There has been a continued push to diversify the workforce with more senior positions going to female candidates .

The Singapore FinTech festival arrived in Singapore with the likes of Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India, Bill Withers CEO of SCB, Christine Lagarde MD of IMF and Piyush Gupta CEO of DBS all discussing the impacts of fintechs being the next frontier of banking.

There has been a big push with trust and fiduciary businesses to become more transparent with teams growing in the Senior Analyst and AVP compliance areas.

As Singapore offer major tax and business incentives to fintechs we are expecting continued growth in all areas of back office compliance but with a greater emphasis on credit risk, market risk, transaction monitoring, EDD & fraud positions.

The United States

For hiring, Q4 of the calendar year is typically stop-start in the US with the holidays punctuating the quarter.  However, the quarter remained very active overall, with firms seeking to fill headcount before the end of year.

With many bulge bracket firms focusing on less ‘conventional’ securities-related business lines, hiring in this space has been slow, with focus only on key /replacement hires.

By the same token, with many bulge brackets pushing into new, innovative businesses, there has been a requirement from ‘out of sector’ specialist hires across consumer banking and various areas of digital finance.  

Geographical dispersion in the US continues as many firms – both sell side and buy side – utilise lower cost centres by ‘near-shoring’ certain teams away from traditional FS hubs, to Jacksonville, Buffalo, Salt Lake City and Parsippany, to name a few.  

Growth of FS hubs outside of New York remains in focus for many. San Francisco Bay Area continues to house the majority of fintech growth and Chicago goes steady in the commodities (metals) space. Texas sees growth across Austin, Houston, and Dallas / Fort Worth, with a combination of traditional business for the area (energy in Houston) with the ballooning of the consumer banking presence in Dallas / Fort Worth.  A slower process, but hedge funds still seem to be entertaining or making the move south to Florida from the old hedge fund capital of Greenwich, CT.

With regards to practice areas, financial crime remains a huge growth space for most firms, with many bulge brackets being affected by consent orders, and general deficiencies in this space.  Migration from regular compliance to financial crime is becoming a strong trend, which we expect to continue into 2019 hiring.