Regulatory Compliance Jobs: Trends to Watch

By Robert Half on June 9, 2016 at 1:00am

Professionals with risk and compliance backgrounds are seeing steady demand for their expertise, especially in industries like financial services and healthcare, according to the 2016 Robert Half Salary Guide for the accounting and finance profession. And new research from Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) suggests that hiring for regulatory compliance jobs could become even hotter in the near term.

More than half of companies in the United States and Canada surveyed for the latest Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report said they expect their compliance burden to increase over the next three years. This is despite the fact that a similar percentage of companies reported that costs associated with compliance requirements have remained steady over the past year — and many have been able to streamline their key internal controls.

If you’re interested in a career in compliance and possess the skills and expertise employers seek, you may have an array of employment opportunities to choose from in today’s hiring market. Here are a few other trends about regulatory compliance jobs that you should know about as you start your search:

1. Compensation for regulatory compliance jobs is rising

Growing compensation levels are always a good indicator that positions are both in high demand and challenging for employers to fill. Our annual Salary Guide projects above-average increases in starting compensation this year for every type of compliance role at U.S. businesses of all sizes. Many firms are also enhancing benefits to both attract top talent and retain valued compliance staff.

If you want to see what salaries employers are typically offering for regulatory compliance jobs in your local area, use the Robert Half Salary Calculator available in our Salary Center.

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2. Employers are hiring consultants for regulatory compliance jobs

According to the Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report for 2016, companies that lack specialized expertise in-house are outsourcing certain compliance activities. This staffing strategy can also provide finance leaders with peace of mind: A director of finance interviewed for the survey report said that outsourcing allows him to worry less about keeping up with compliance requirements.

Another finding from the report is that many organizations are engaging senior-level interim consultants for regulatory compliance jobs and compliance-related projects, such as business systems implementations.

A number of factors are likely contributing to this trend. For example, some employers may only need specialized skills for compliance projects with a finite duration. And employers such as startups or other pre-IPO companies may not be ready to add full-time compliance staff to their payroll — but still require their expertise. Some private companies are voluntarily enhancing their compliance processes as a business best practice and to prepare for a sale or IPO.

Also, it can often take businesses several weeks to find highly skilled candidates for regulatory compliance jobs, especially senior-level roles like compliance officers. Hiring interim management consultants is a way for them to shoulder a long hiring process.

Search our jobs to see the types of compliance consulting positions currently available in your area.

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3. The regulatory environment is expected to become more complex

Regulatory compliance jobs can be very rewarding — but they are also demanding roles. Business regulations are always evolving and compliance experts need to work hard to keep pace with change. It’s essential that they do so, especially given the expectation that they are trusted business partners.

Here’s just one example of the regulatory landscape’s dynamic nature: Protiviti, a Robert Half subsidiary, noted in its 2016 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey report that many organizations devoted more hours to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in their latest fiscal year compared to prior years. Keep in mind that SOX regulation was enacted in 2002. The possible reasons for the recent uptick in SOX-focused activity for many organizations, according to Protiviti, include:

  • Ongoing implementation of the new COSO internal control framework
  • Evolving external auditor requirements for Section 404(b) compliance
  • Efforts among organizations that currently comply only with Section 404(a) to prepare for the level of rigor required to comply with Section 404(b)

The Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report highlights another mandate that has been creating compliance pressure for U.S. businesses: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Many organizations are engaging compliance experts to help them implement healthcare information management systems in line with ACA requirements. Some are also hiring internal audit consultants to review their ACA compliance processes so they don’t make missteps that could lead to costly fines.

4. Companies are looking for compliance professionals who have technical and soft skills

When hiring compliance staff, especially for leadership roles, companies typically look for resilient professionals with business acumen and the ability to provide strategic guidance. A strong work ethic is also highly valued, as are communication skills. And of course, solid technical skills are a must for all regulatory compliance jobs.

Many organizations also prefer to hire professionals who already have a deep understanding of their industry — particularly those that operate in highly regulated sectors, such as financial services and healthcare. Finance leaders are also selective when choosing compliance personnel because they view increasing regulatory change and scrutiny as a top risk for their organizations.

To ensure your expertise is aligned with the right type of compliance position, consider working with a specialized staffing firm. Staffing specialists not only will recognize the value of your unique skill set, they will also know how your abilities can be put to the best use for their clientele.

Download your free copy of the latest Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance function report today to learn about other key trends transforming the finance function.

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Additional resources

Interested in regulatory compliance jobs or another type of consulting? See the “Consultants” section of our website for information about different career paths in consulting, the benefits of consulting, and why a consulting career might be the right opportunity for you.

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