Eight crucial skills that could get you a compliance job in Asia  

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You want a new compliance job in Asia, either by moving banks or nailing a big promotion. But what skills might help you to leapfrog the competition and potentially achieve a 28% pay rise?

Here are some of the key compliance skills that banks in Singapore and Hong Kong are looking for.

1. AML specialities

Banks in Asia no longer just want AML generalists, says Pathay Singh, managing director of search firm The Compliance Grid in Hong Kong. “This field is now becoming increasingly segmented. The main AML specialist jobs in demand this year are monitoring and surveillance, financial-crime intelligence operations, AML product specialists, and AML investigators.” AML teams are under particular pressure in Hong Kong, where non-compliance with regulations now potentially sees banks facing multimillion-dollar fines, Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Arthur Yuen Kwok-hang said yesterday.

2. Local regulatory connections

The most sought-after candidates in Asian compliance don’t just know the big-ticket global regulations, they have several years’ experience forging relationships with local regulators. Don’t leave recruiters in any doubt – litter your CV with references to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), says Matthew Fellows a consultant at Pure Search in Hong Kong.

3. Knowledge of MAS 626

What’s particularly sought after on the local regulatory scene? Try knowledge of MAS 626, says Orelia Chan, a manager of financial services at recruiters Robert Walters in Singapore. This money-laundering and terrorism-financing regulation was first introduced in 2007, but an update in April this year, to bring it in line with global best practice, means banks in Singapore need more expertise in this area.

4. Advisory expertise

There are now more advisory-focused roles being created in Asia as banks follow the recent Western trend of giving compliance teams a greater stake in decision-making processes. And (unusually in compliance) there is a comparatively steady flow of candidates as compliance professionals from other roles are drawn to a job requiring more face-time with the front-office, says Chan.

5. Marketing-material skills in asset management

China is launching a hotly anticipated mutual fund recognition scheme with Hong Kong on July 1, allowing funds domiciled in Hong Kong be sold in China and vice versa. Asset managers in Hong Kong are already looking for compliance experts who can help ensure that their marketing materials are compliant with the new programme, says Kate Reid, an associate director at recruiters Eximus Group in Hong Kong. Chinese language skills are a must in these jobs.

6. Cross-border compliance

“Due to the increase in cross-border trade across Asia, banks are looking to grab business by providing correspondent banking solutions, while at the same time tackling the compliance issues that arise from the cross-border payments-approval processes,” says Singh from Compliance Grid. “Cross-border banking compliance exposure is highly sought after and a rare skill in the market currently.”

7. Compliance information management and reporting

Do you have a background in statistics or data analytics? You may be a good candidate for a job focused on designing and maintaining compliance dashboards and metrics, says Singh. This is still a niche field within Asian compliance – but it’s a growing one.

8. FATCA and Basel III

After two to three years of banks taking on people with expertise in these international regulations, surely demand in Singapore and Hong Kong must be faltering? It seems not – banks in Asia “continue to roll out” FATCA and Basel III programmes and that means they can’t afford to stop hiring in these area and they almost always replace staff who leave, says Fellows from Pure Search.

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