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Demand For Compliance Managers Spurs MBA Job Creation In Finance

Growing demand from finance employers for graduates with skills in risk management, regulation and compliance.

Mon Jul 27 2015

The financial sector is showing signs of a long awaited recruitment revival but it is still striking how many banks are desperate to hire compliance staff.

The business of keeping banks in check is booming, with HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and BNP Paribas all employing thousands to bolster their compliance teams since the crisis.

“With the wave of astronomical fines imposed upon some banks, most players in the industry are almost paranoid about compliance,” says Alex Stremme, assistant dean for the MSc Finance program at Warwick Business School.

Banks have been fined billions of dollars by regulators for breaches and there is no sign of the stream of charges slowing. In the past 12 months, six banks including Citi and UBS were fined $5.6 billion over the rigging of foreign exchange, while Barclays paid up for manipulating Isdafix, used to set prices for the $500 trillion interest-rate swap contracts market.

The British bank has been one of the chief recruiters this year, advertising for 200 compliance staff in April alone.

The heavy financial penalties are driving armies of risk officers at banks in London but a regulatory clampdown is pushing up demand for talent across Asia too. “It has been clear that jobs related to operation control, risk and compliance are in hot demand,” says Lawrence Chan, director at CUHK Business School in Hong Kong.

Even as they shed thousands of jobs elsewhere, HSBC and Standard Chartered have prominently highlighted their compliance vacancies.

Maire Apiou, director of career services at University of Hong Kong’s business school, points to the need for Chinese language skills in finance, with languages preferred over technical skills in some instances. “China recognises both the need to attract higher calibre talent and to improve professional standards,” she says.

Managing risk is high on banks’ agendas. “The topic has certainly grown in importance,” says Steven Young, head of accounting and finance at Lancaster University Management School. “Risk management has always formed an important element of our programs but I think the topic is starting to permeate more courses,” he says.

Professor Bo Becker at the Stockholm School of Economics says risk management is a hot topic in executive education but remains a niche for students seeking careers in finance.

Nonetheless, for French business school HEC Paris the role of ethics and compliance in the hiring process of investment banks is on the upswing, says Professor Jacques Olivier, program director for the Masters in Finance.

HSBC announced plans to recruit 3,000 compliance officers in 2013, with JPMorgan saying it would hire a similar number. BNP Paribas has increased its compliance staff by 40% to 1,600 over five years. StanChart last year had increased legal and compliance headcount by 30%.

Dr Julia Knobbe, program director at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, says there is growing demand from employers for graduates with skills in risk management, regulation and compliance.

“Ethics, sustainability and responsibility are all topics which have come into focus since the 2008 banking crisis,” she says. 

Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.