Why Now is the BEST Time to be in the Compliance Industry


Post By: Kristy Grant-Hart, Chief Executive Officer, Spark Compliance Consulting

There is some recent (fabulous) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics about why compliance officers are in such a great position in the market. That research, along with the 2022 salary guide published by Robert Half International have me jumping for joy. Let’s dig in to find out why it’s such a great time to be in the compliance industry.

Need a Job? That will be Easier than Ever!

We’ve all heard of the great resignation of 2021. Workers who were fed up with long hours, no work/life balance, and stagnant wages began quitting their jobs in droves. Employers looking to hire talent face fierce competition, especially in the compliance world.

As reported in the WSJ, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ survey found that in 2021, average unemployment was 5.3% in the United States. Compare that to compliance officer unemployment rates at just 2.4%. That’s less than half the already very low unemployment numbers.

Jobs Come with More Money

Every year the Robert Half International staffing firm publishes its salary guide. For 2022, highly skilled Chief Compliance Officers can expect a starting salary of $209,000, which represents an increase of 1.5% from 2021. This isn’t a blip- Chief Compliance Officers have had a steady increase every year for the past several years. I’ve recently seen highly-qualified friends in big cities and complex industries attract jobs with $350,000+ packages.

You don’t have to be senior to enjoy the trend. Entry-level compliance analysts that will need training can expect a starting rate of $66,000.

Jobs Come with More and Better Benefits

The WSJ article found that in the tight labor market, firms are doing whatever they can to attract and retain talent. Many are increasing salaries, paying onboarding or retention bonuses, providing remote or hybrid working options, and even giving out company equity.

More Opportunity to Increase Skills

This month, many organizations posted their predictions for the top trends in compliance for 2022. Many of this year’s trends focused on expanding laws and responsibilities – especially relating to ESG (environmental, social, and governance), privacy, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and whistleblowers.

The EU’s now-in-force Whistleblower Directive is going to cause big challenges this year, as is the patchwork of US state laws about privacy. Many countries and regulators are deciding how to put teeth into ESG disclosures, with compliance officers primed to take leadership roles in ESG program management. New supply chain laws will continue to create opportunities as well.

While new laws can create pain points, they also create opportunities to learn more and expand skillsets. The more you know, the more you can demand for your experience and expertise.

How to Put this to Use

Information is power. While the market is red-hot, take advantage of it in the following ways.

Commit to Negotiating

In many companies, this time of year includes annual reviews and goal setting. Commit to negotiating your salary or benefits. If you can’t get a salary increase, try to get a better bonus, equity option, remote/hybrid working benefits, or learning budget. Companies don’t want to lose their talent now.

Commit to Learning

Commit to learning this year. Choose one of the hot areas – ESG, DEI, privacy, supply chain/third-party, EU whistleblower law – and study it. Go to a seminar, conference, or webinar. Read the blogs covering the topic. Follow people who post on the topic on LinkedIn. By growing your skillset now, you’ll be in even more demand later.

Commit to Networking

Commit to networking this year. Identify specific goals, like commenting on or sharing at least one LinkedIn post per week, then hold yourself accountable for doing so. Go to a conference – real or virtual – and force yourself to participate in the coffee breaks or virtual chat. Networking now puts you in a great position to jump quickly in the future.

Commit to a Five-Year Goal

Think about where you want to be in five years, then commit to the actions that will get you there. Having a vision changes your actions now. It will be easier to choose how to spend your time when you know where you want to go.

Will it always be a great time to be in the compliance field? I think so. But it may not always be this good. Now is the time to grab the opportunities, go for the stretch job, take the risk of feeling dumb while learning all the new acronyms, re-negotiate your benefits, and commit to doing your part to keep raising the profile and prominence of the profession.

Congratulations compliance officer – you chose well!