Why NOT to get a new job this year if you work in Asian compliance

eFC logo

Do you work in compliance in Hong Kong or Singapore? Are you accustomed to drifting between banks every 12 to 18 months, picking up big pay rises along the way?

Get ready for a shock if you’re attempting another quick move now that bonuses have been paid out.

While banks in Asia are still hiring in compliance this year (12% of all Standard Chartered’s Singapore vacancies are in the function, for example), they are finally cracking down on candidates who have too many brief stints on their CVs. And recruiters are now recommending that such people stay put at their current banks for the sake of their short and long-term careers.

“While many compliance professionals with ‘choppy’ CVs do still want to move, hiring managers have now become a lot more cautious about them,” says Lucy Allcard, manager of legal, compliance and audit at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Singapore. “This year I’m definitely seeing job hopping increasingly come up as a reason why candidates won’t be considered for a role.”

And even if they do get interviews, compliance people with a chequered history of job moves must present a “real justification” to hiring managers for wanting yet another new position, says Pathay Singh, managing director at recruiters Compliance Grid in Hong Kong.

“I’ve seen compliance candidates who have initially progressed with their first few job hops, but have then gone backwards to the point of now being unemployed and struggling to find a new role due to banks’ negative perception of their background,” says Singh.

Banks in Asia are stepping up their efforts to reduce high attrition rates in compliance and are prioritising job seekers with steady employment records, says Kate Reid, an associate director at recruitment company Eximius Group in Hong Kong.

“At a junior level, choppy candidates are now avoided if less choppy ones can be found – even if the latter are actually less technically capable,” says Reid. “This is even more important at managerial level because their likely exit from the business will impact a wider network, potentially initiating further attrition.”

Don’t go

Increasingly, recruiters are advising candidates to delay their job searching this year in order to develop stable resumes that will open up better job opportunities in the future.

“Banks are getting more conservative in compliance hiring this year. It’s still an in-demand function, but having longer work tenures is become more important,” says Orelia Chan, senior manager, legal, compliance, audit and risk, at recruitment agency Robert Walters in Singapore. “So in this market if a candidate’s push factors for leaving aren’t strong and they hold solid responsibilities, I’d now advise them to stay and gain more expertise.”

Lynne Roeder, managing director of Hays in Singapore, says although technical skills are more transferrable across banks in compliance than in many other job functions, the “career development you enjoy by staying within the same organisation is still an advantage”.

Reid from Eximius adds: “Compliance professionals in Asia must protect their future careers. If you’re moving every year you’re missing out on non-technical skills that may not seem important now but will be essential later. For example: managing conflict, gaining internal sponsors, leadership, negotiation and involvement in committees. These skills are essential for promotion to roles above SVP level.”

And even if you do manage to job hop this year, you may eventually find yourself overtaken by graduate hires who have risen up the ranks. “Banks in Asia are investing in graduate compliance staff – for example BNP Paribas has set up an Asia Pacific Campus in Singapore,” says Reid. “The job-market buoyancy that compliance professionals have enjoyed recently will start to be plugged by these people.”

Image credit: kemirada, Thinkstock

Related articles