For over thirty years we have been working with a wide-ranging client base of financial services organisations on a national and international basis. One of the most significant changes we have observed over that period is the developing role and increasing influence of compliance professionals in the finance ecosystem. It has become increasingly clear that the potential risks to financial organisations cannot be viewed as limited in terms of extent or duration. Accordingly, compliance is no longer viewed as a temporary set of reactive responses to regulatory pressures that will fade or to ad hoc failures of internal systems that can be fixed. Rather it is now viewed, increasingly if not always willingly, as an integral and essential component of a governance infrastructure without which no finance firm can deliver on its business objectives.
So if you’re a finance compliance professional with appropriate skills and experience gained on a permanent or interim basis, we are keen to seek your approval to help your career move forward.
We want to talk to you. Drop us a line and tell us about yourself!
Several major employers, such as Twitter and Facebook, have announced that remote work will continue indefinitely. For those who enjoy the flexibility and lack of commute that working from home offers, this will be welcome news. For others who thrive in an office environment or who lack a suitable home-working space, a remote future could be a nightmare. There are also growing concerns about what remote work will mean for training, teamwork and sustaining company culture.
The hybrid office is being touted as a solution, where employees split their week between their home and the physical office space. However, this comes with its own set of problems. For example, there is concern over a two-tier system arising between office and home workers, and a possible breakdown in communication as a result. Luckily, there are a number of innovative new technologies being designed — could they help build a hybrid office that people want to be part of?
One of these new technologies is Yonderdesk, a custom digital workspace. One of the main issues with a hybrid office is that it lacks the ‘sense of togetherness’ created by physically being in the same space. This means employees miss out on socialising and are less likely to ask their colleagues quick queries. Yonderdesk is a digital floor plan that can mimic the organisation’s actual office space. Employees are given an avatar and a desk, so that it’s easy to see where your colleagues are at (e.g., in meetings, available or working on a task). Digital floor plans have been a key element of online games, such as Habbo, for years because they are fun, engaging and make people feel like they are having a shared experience, so it will be fascinating to see whether ideas like Yonderdesk prove popular.
On a more tech-heavy futuristic note, there is plenty of development in virtual and augmented reality technology. Digital start-up, Spatial, are working on augmented reality filters that create the illusion that your co-worker is right in front of you (similar to Pokemon Go). The avatar has facial expressions and can even sit down on a chair. It also works on existing virtual reality headsets, but Spatial are particularly excited by the idea of lightweight glasses, which are likely to be far more practical for everyday use. In addition, Spatial allows your avatar to interact with virtual tools. In their words, ‘Your room is your monitor, your hands are the mouse.’ There are plenty of other virtual reality meeting applications, such as the ones on this list, but Spatial is one of the most immersive.
A more controversial development is the increase of monitoring software, sometimes known as ‘Tattleware’. Some of these products can be used without employee knowledge to spy on emails, software use and more, which can have serious data privacy implications and undermine trust. Given that, on average, people have been working longer hours during the pandemic, it seems unwise to use monitoring software in this way. However, when used ethically and transparently, such tools can provide a rich understanding of employee behaviour that can improve productivity, engagement and prevent fatigue and/or burnout. For example, software like Time Doctor has time-tracking features that can help employees and managers gain a better understanding of how long tasks actually take, which can be fed into future estimates and used to reshuffle schedules.
Last but not least, collaboration tools. If you haven’t done this already, finding and implementing effective collaboration tools is vital to successful remote and hybrid working. You are probably most familiar with services like Slack — instant messaging chat rooms are a great way for employees to show their availability and engage in more casual conversations. Take this further with tools like Donut, a slack channel that makes introductions with a random employee every couple of weeks and encourages virtual or in-person meet-ups. This helps build a cohesive company culture by structuring those random encounters from the pre-pandemic days.
Clearly, it will take time to build a hybrid office that suits your organisation. Exploring new tools is a great way to avoid complacency and ensure the hybrid office experience is something your employees want to be part of.
We surveyed more than 1,500 employers to gather data on current hiring trends, changes to learning and development programmes, the impacts of Brexit and the upcoming IR35 regulations, the pandemics influence on salaries and rates, and current skills in demand. We are pleased to be able to present the results for January below:
For many, the adaption to working from home has been a challenge. Maintaining productivity while also facing health, financial and family concerns can be stressful enough — so understandably many employees would rather not add information security to their list. However, you would have been hard pushed to have missed the sharp rise in data breaches last year. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act of 2018, companies must protect data in a way that ensures ‘appropriate security’ by using ‘appropriate technical or organisational measures’ — and COVID-19 doesn’t provide an exemption. What can organisations do to keep data safe in such difficult circumstances?
Many organisations already have remote working policies in place (93% according to a study by OpenVPN), however, 25% of these companies have not updated these policies in over a year. Hackers will easily exploit out-of-date systems, so now is the ideal time to update policy, which will also provide the opportunity to remind employees on proper remote working procedure. Additionally, ensure that existing security measures are working as intended. For example, most organisations will use a virtual private network (VPN) for employees to access company data via an encrypted connection. However, many corporate VPN’s have vulnerabilities IT teams do not regularly patch or do not allow for constraints like lack of bandwidth, which may stop the VPN working properly. Many companies, including Dell, have said that evaluating their VPN was a top priority during the pandemic.
A recent study by IBM concluded that the current workforce, who have been rushed into remote work, poses a significant risk to information security. 52% of surveyed newly working-from-home employees reported using their personal devices for work (often without new tools to secure the device) and 45% have not received any new security training — yet 93% felt confident that their company would keep personal identifiable information safe. This suggests that employees are underestimating the security risks of working-from-home and IT teams may be overestimating employee knowledge of information security. Therefore, IT may be unaware of the risks employees are actually taking, such as sharing devices with family members, which means that data could be downloaded and unknown software installed with the employee’s company credentials entered. It’s important to both enforce regular training on how to keep data safe and repeatedly communicate the business consequences of failing to follow policy.
On a related note, being realistic about the risk employees pose to a security system means limiting the potential damage. Employing multiple layers of security, such as multi-factor authentication and encryption, will help businesses stay safe. Encryption is specifically mentioned by GDPR when outlining what constitutes appropriate technical and organisational security measures — the reason being is that even if a breach occurs, the data will be unreadable. It’s crucial that all devices used for work (including phones and tablets) are encrypted. Plenty of widely used software, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat, also provides an option to encrypt files — it’s a good idea to get into the habit of encrypting everything. Then, in the potential situation that a device is remotely or physically accessed by an unknown person, the data stays safe.
While many businesses are juggling a number of concerns during the pandemic, it’s essential that information security remains a priority. GDPR means data must be kept safe at all times by evaluating security systems, understanding the risks your employees take in home-working situations, and responding to this with training and failsafe measures like encryption. Given the financial and reputational consequences of a data breach, it’s vital that businesses are proactive in ensuring information security.
We surveyed more than 1,500 employers to gather data on current hiring trends, changes to the size of the workforce in 2020, skills in demand, the impact on salaries and rates, the rollout of the vaccine and looking to the future and whether the scotch egg is a substantial meal, or simple snack. We are pleased to be able to present the results for December below:
Our Risk, Finance & Compliance Market Insights Report & Salary Guide 2020 provides the latest insights on the market collated by our specialist Risk, Fiance & Compliance Recruitment Teams, and from data collected from surveying our clients and candidates.
London, 10th March 2020: Global recruitment specialists McGregor Boyall are pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Geist as Head of Practice -Regulation, Compliance and Financial Crime. Geist has over 15 years’ experience in the Compliance and Financial Crime space.
He has successfully placed regulatory and compliance candidates at all levels across banking and financial services both in UK and Internationally. Geist began his compliance recruitment career at a FTSE listed recruitment firm in 2005. Starting as a Consultant he quickly progressing to heading up the team and establishing himself as one of the leading recruiters in the compliance industry. He is a business graduate from the University of London.
Commenting on his appointment Geist said, “I am delighted to have taken-up this position and I’m excited by the prospect of enhancing McGregor Boyall’s reputation as a specialist Compliance & Financial Crime recruitment firm.”
“McGregor Boyall have a well-established and impressive reputation in the UK,” continues Paul “and I am looking forward to working closely with our international offices to expand our recruitment services.”
“I am delighted to have Paul on board to build on, and expand our Compliance and Financial Crime Practice” said Group CEO Laurie Boyall “his experience speaks for itself, and his proven track record of delivery in this space means he will be an excellent addition to the McGregor Boyall team.”
Our Scotland Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest salary data collated by our specialist Recruitment Teams covering:
At the end of 2017, the Government announced its strategy to fight financial crime in the UK and internationally. In a bid to cement the UK's position as an international financial centre – potentially under threat in the wake of Brexit – Theresa May appointed MP John Penrose as the anti-corruption champion to oversee the new measures. The strategy is intended to strengthen the UK's financial integrity internally, increase cooperation internationally and fight corruption.
To achieve this, there are (several) new sheriffs in town. But what are the new measures, and what do UK companies have to do to ensure they don't fall foul?
The Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD)
The 5AMLD, finalised on 19 June 2018, closely follows the 4AMLD, which only came into force in June 2017. This is an EU directive and not a direct part of the Government's strategy, although it supports the goal of combatting money laundering, particularly in regards to terrorist activity.
Fortunately for UK companies, the latest directive is not as extensive as the fourth, which necessitated wholesale changes in the ways businesses approached money laundering.
The Fifth Directive focuses its gaze on cryptocurrencies, prepaid cards, high-value goods (above £10,000) and those dealing with high-risk third countries. It also requires companies to be more transparent with lists of Beneficial Ownership and Politically Exposed Persons. If this applies to your company, you should ensure you're compliant by the deadline in 2020.
Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS)
To further strengthen the country's Anti-Money Laundering Capabilities, the Government set up the new OPBAS. Based within the FCA, the watchdog is another effort to fight terrorist financing within the UK.
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said:
'This new watchdog will deepen the government’s partnership with the private sector as we work together to tackle illicit finance whilst minimising the burdens on legitimate businesses. This sends a clear message to criminals and terrorists that their dirty money is not welcome here.'
The Government's goal is to ensure the UK's current 25 anti-money-laundering supervisors meet the standards set out in the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and has powers to investigate and penalise those who do not. Legitimate businesses will see little change in their day-to-day activities.
National Economic Crime Centre (NECC)
At the head of all these measures, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the creation of the NECC in December 2017. The move also included appointing a new Minister for Economic Crime in the Home Office and staff from across the government and private sector.
The goal for the NECC is to improve intelligence into money laundering, increasing analytical capabilities and better coordinating the response to high-end economic crime, particularly organised crime and terrorism.
Thankfully for companies in the UK, these measures shouldn't mean them having to change the way they work too drastically or spend lots of time implementing new policies or procedures. Instead, providing they work as intended, the strategy should keep them protected from the ill effects of financial crime.
We look at the rise and rise of RegTech companies, all using AI and machine learning to help companies combat financial crime
For Financial Technology companies, business is booming. By definition, FinTechs are small and agile, able to shift rapidly and develop new technologies at pace in order to capitalise on new markets.
They are also a perfect target for financial crime. As fast as they can develop, so too can unscrupulous criminals looking to take advantage of gaps – gaping holes, in some cases – in new systems whose ambition more than often outstrips their regulatory compliance.
Enter RegTechs. These are regulatory technology companies that focus on software solutions to help financial institutions automate and streamline their regulatory activity. And it’s lucrative – the market for RegTechs is estimated to reach $118.7 billion by 2020.
The rapid rise of FinTechs has, in some cases, left cracks that can be exploited by financial crime. Their focus tends towards an excellent customer experience – it’s what sets them apart from the big, traditional banks. Moving quickly to stay ahead of wealthier competitors means there’s pressure to develop new solutions quickly – and the high degree of automation can also leave room for error.
Their strengths in terms of agility may also prove their weakness when it comes to compliance. Unlike the big banks, startups often have small teams who are fighting to keep up with ever expanding regulation. As well as this, they lack the ‘organisational memory’ of big institutions and can struggle to attract and pay experienced heads.
Gap in the market
This is where RegTech comes in. This new breed of technology’s main uses include stress-testing financial forecasting, automating and monitoring regulatory changes, and email and filtering and monitoring. Not always the most glamorous topics, but absolutely vital to the smooth running of financial businesses.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are at the heart of RegTech software, and are used to analyse and make sense of data at its biggest. The idea is that they are easy to integrate, more reliable, secure and cost-effective, and quick to adapt to regulatory changes and criminal activity. They make it easier for companies to stay compliant.
Regtech companies to keep your eye on
There are new RegTech companies popping up all the time – here are some of the top players. To be fair to the start-ups, it’s not just smaller FinTech companies that are benefitting.
Ayasdi, which uses machine intelligence to solve a variety of regulatory and compliance-related problems including Anti Money Laundering and financial risk modelling, count Citi and Credit Suisse among its clients.
Similarly, in the US, Standard Chartered has appointed Silent Eight to screen customers, using natural language processing matching against watchlists, and learning to carry out assessments as a human would respond.
How to stay one step ahead
Like all new technologies, although they claim to be easy to integrate, in reality it can be more difficult. Proprietary systems will all be different and so custom integrations are often needed – mistakes can be very costly.
Hiring employees who have been through the process before can be beneficial and help solve any problems before they’ve even started.
Although still in its infancy, RegTech is here to stay. Once integrated, the benefits are many. Including helping your compliance teams sleep at night.
The uncertainty brought about by Brexit is driving demand for regulatory roles as companies scramble to protect themselves against future changes.
Brexit looms large over the UK, dominating news and political discourse. It’s no minor issue for its businesses, either. Despite all the talk, there’s only one overriding theme everyone can agree on: uncertainty.
Because no one truly knows what the impact of Brexit will be on, well…anything, it’s very difficult for companies to plan for the long term. This is making many Chairman, CEOs and MDs very nervous. One of the results of this anxiety is an increase in the demand for regulatory related talent.
The certainty of uncertainty
No one (not even those leading the country) really know how Brexit negotiations will end, or what this will mean for British businesses. What is clear, however, is there will be at least some regulatory change. With no reassurances, companies are increasing their skill set when it comes to regulatory and change management teams.
Senior-level hires with expert knowledge of policies and implementation – and in specific verticals – are more valuable than ever. The early movers have given new staff the chance to really get under the skin of their operations and put them in a position of being ready to jump into action once the nightmare becomes reality and the inevitable changes become clear.
No escape from GDPR
Much to everyone’s annoyance, before GDPR came into effect the government confirmed that the ruling will still stand even after Britain leaves the EU. IT/technology specialists with systems knowledge are still in high demand, and their expertise will continue to be precious commodities as businesses look to navigate the latest regulations.
There are still many grey areas in the new laws, and it feels like everyone is waiting for the first big victim to uncover where the lines really lie – a situation no one wants to find themselves in.
The most desirable skills
The perfect storm of Brexit, GDPR and Mifid II is leaving organisations paranoid that competitors will come along and poach their most trusted staff. As well as experts in more general regulatory change scanning and surveillance, many companies are hiring teams of specialists in their particular industry – it’s become too big for one person to handle.
Firms that usually relied on only a small number of compliance staff are having to increase in numbers and compete directly with larger businesses with even bigger budgets.
The reward of risk
Of all parties involved, it’s compliance specialists who come out as winners. Candidates can earn big pay rises if they switch, with some recruiters claiming an average of 24% wage increases for the clients they’ve helped switch. Some are even earning big wage increases by staying put as companies propose large counter-offers to keep hold of their top employees.
Although competition for talent is fierce, it’s only going to get worse. With the Brexit deadline approaching more quickly every day, now is the time to act for companies looking to plan ahead and guard against the change.
Our England Regions Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest salary data collated by our specialist Recruitment Teams covering:
Our Compliance, Finance / Audit, Financial Crime, Legal & Risk Market Insights Report & Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest insights on the market collated by our RFCL Recruitment Team, and from data collected from surveying our clients and candidates.