Preparing your compliance career for Brexit

compliance professional discussing 2019 Brexit market

Whilst the UK financial services sector took an initial dip immediately following the referendum result, with hiring taking a brief hiatus, the compliance market has since been business as usual for many UK based firms.

The outcome and subsequent impact of Brexit remains to be seen, and latest reports state that the transition period will go on until 2020.


However, one thing is for certain, London continues to be the control centre for many global firms and as such is home to a very specialised market for compliance professionals.

We speak to our specialist compliance manager, Emily Pearce, who offers an insight into the current recruitment trends in the compliance space and how professionals can prepare for the onset of Brexit.

Demand for more specialist compliance talent is on the rise

As always with change in regulation, there is a need for interim employees to step in and help reformat compliance programmes internally, especially for big banks and asset managers.

Emily comments, “On the contract side, as expected because of Brexit and as seen with other regulatory regimes like MiFID II & MiFID II, we are seeing a spike in interim roles coming up now. Project management has also experienced an increase in demand dealing with compliance management to help firms get operationally ready.

“The most notable rise we’ve seen is for regulatory change and horizon scanning roles in both the permanent and contract markets. Firms have taken learnings from their experience with MiFID II, whereby it was not uncommon to see previous directors having to rapidly turn around change in operations following regulatory market abuse.

Many hiring managers are looking for a ‘horizon’ with opportunity of development for new permanent recruits

“What we’re continuing to see as part of that trend, and further driven by Brexit, is firms strengthening teams so that they have the capacity to effectively scan for regulations, interpret new regulations, and communicate this internally to ensure firms are ready.

“Following the new Brexit laws being released in Q2 of 2018, certain firms are of course slightly further along the ‘Brexit-prep’ process than others. As we approach 2019, we are certainly seeing more and more firms beginning to implement new recruitment plans and upscaling compliance functions, opening up vast amounts of opportunities to the market.”

With the uptake of contracting positions in the compliance market, these professionals can become specialists in their field and will subsequently be highly sought after within the market - encouraging more contract to permanent roles.

Keeping up-to-date with EU regulations

“Many hiring managers are looking for a ‘horizon’ with opportunity of development for new permanent recruits. Brexit is offering multiple challenges in the financial services market and, in turn, Compliance, so the ability to communicate with other jurisdictions and understand what these other jurisdictions are doing really comes into play and we have seen a continued emphasis on this.”

“With compliance programmes expanding, there is a continued need to scale out to other jurisdictions to gain broader knowledge of how those regulators operate. For this reason, legal cross-border experience is invaluable within the UK market with it being the home to many operational hub centres for companies.

“There always has and will continue to be demand for experienced, senior Compliance candidates in the UK market. However, junior and entry level roles are changing slightly. We are seeing much less procedure-based roles in the UK, for example surveillance at the lower levels are being offshored to the likes of Dublin and Poland, but this isn’t solely a result of Brexit, having witnessed this before it’s announcement in 2017.”

Key skill areas remain in demand for compliance professionals

Emily highlights “As aforementioned, junior based roles are becoming more specialist. We are seeing more so than previous years gone by that junior candidates are being hired into advisory based roles, offering a greater scope for development.”

A multitude of compliance skill sets will remain desirable in 2019. Experience in the horizon scanning and surveillance space can be hugely beneficial, combined with value add-ons such as interpersonal and team building skills.

Emily highlights the compliance skills that can give you an advantage over other candidates:

  1. IT & digital: particularly within the monitoring and surveillance areas there is a technological upgrade happening with the introduction of new systems that requires compliance assistance and knowledge
  2. Systems: Bloomberg AAM, Actimise, SMARTS
  3. Knowing Your customer (KYC)
  4. Developing policies: this is particularly important for reaching the more senior roles
  5. Procedures & frameworks: specifically regarding any type of change role or advisory role, identifying any gaps.

“In the compliance world, certainly in contrast to other areas of finance, the impact of Brexit has been positive, with many firms taking an optimistic stance on it. It does not necessarily mean that certain company team structures and recruits are changing in response to Brexit, most of the large banks and asset managers are continuing to keep operations from London as business as usual.”

Brexit is enabling there to be more opportunities including variety with some new specialist roles. The regulatory roles are built to be very specific, but the regulatory change and horizon scanning roles are much more generalist, providing scope for development for more junior compliance professionals.

If you’re looking for you next compliance career, contact Emily Pearce at or call directly on +44 (0)20 7509 8358.


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