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Best Practices Ethics & Culture

Attracting The Best Talent To Your Compliance Team

Advice on whether to hire internally or externally, hiring Millennial talent, and whether the transactional approach to hiring is still effective

So far in this blog space, we’ve spent the month of March exploring the inner workings of the modern compliance team, specifically the ideal skillset of today’s compliance officer and the ideal makeup of today’s compliance team. Continuing in this vein, in this StarBlog we’re going to explore how to attract the best talent to your team, and even offer some specific advice on how to hire and retain Millennials.

“How do I attract talent, you ask? Well, I’ve found that people take money.” So chuckles one veteran compliance team leader from a large UK asset manager. “You have to be able to give them something that improves their CVs, too, because sooner or later they’re going to leave you. So you have to be able to say to candidates, we’re looking for someone who can do this and what we’re offering you is this.”

Money, of course, is always part of the equation. And it may be a bigger part of the equation when you’re hiring from outside the firm, especially if the person you’re competing for is experienced at what they do. “For outside candidates, it’s pay and reputation,” says a veteran compliance team leader from a large US asset manager. “No one wants to work in a company with an awful reputation of any sort.”

Titles can still work magic, too. Most people take some level of personal pride in what they do for a living, and when someone asks the inevitable question at a party—”What do you do?”—titles remain a quick way to signal not just competence at something but also professional status. It’s that two-way street. Again, our UK compliance team leader: “In my experience, the people who know what they’re after, who are looking to do the job in return for how it can help them moving forward, are going to be the best people.”

What about when you’re hiring from the inside? How does the hiring equation change? “At our firm, people are hired, tend to stay, and get moved around,” says our US team leader. “To attract the best people, we use day-to-day interactions: building relationships and in the process identifying individuals I feel have a compliance focus. So when we do have an open position, there are individuals we’ve already identified we know would be a good fit.”

Being able to identify potential compliance candidates so far in advance, a luxury any hiring manager would envy, comes from the very nature of compliance and how it operates at most firms. Again, our US team leader: “Compliance is one of the few departments that touches every other department. That makes us unique in that we can interact with everyone and get a perspective on people we may not have otherwise crossed paths with. From there we can do our own recruiting.”

Team leaders who operate in this kind of firm culture, where people hang around for the long term, may never need to look beyond their own employee base for recruits. “We hire 90% of our people internally,” says our US team leader, “so I really haven’t had to look externally.” This offers advantages beyond merely negating the need to compete for candidates based on the usual suspects, like pay and benefits. Hiring internally means a candidate who already knows firm culture, and who has an intuitive grasp of firm expectations. All of this means your new hire can be better expected to hit the ground running. Hiring internally also allows you to be more choosy. Again, our US team leader: “We’re generally aware of who’s applying for a position. And because we have a history with these individuals, we have more insight into their work ethic and attitude, which allows us to be a bit more selective.”

Millennials tend to get a bad rap. Every generation has its quirks and eccentricities, and perceptions and misperceptions always abound. One way to think about Millennials in the workplace is the way you’d think about any changing of the guard, i.e., Millennials are simply young and inexperienced. “It doesn’t matter what age people are. What you do affects how other people do things,” says our UK team leader. “When onboarding Millennials, ensure they’re given the support and direction they need, and pair them with more senior individuals who can show them the right way to handle situations that come up.”

But because Millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, it’s perhaps also worth considering those quirks and eccentricities, understanding them, and addressing them in a proactive and positive manner. “Many Millennials are exhibiting a marked desire for reassurance,” states a recent survey by Deloitte Consulting on the much discussed generation. “They feel pessimistic about the prospects for political and social progress, along with concerns about safety, social equality, and environmental sustainability.” This pessimism extends to the business community, with Millennial opinions about business taking a “sharp turn downward” after trending up over the past two years.

So how can Millennials be reassured, and therefore attracted and retained by enterprise financial firms? According to the survey “[workplace] diversity and flexibility are key to loyalty.” Also, while “good pay and positive cultures are most likely to attract Millennials,” job flexibility is also important. Survey respondents also noted that they “lack confidence they can succeed in an Industry 4.0 environment, and are looking to businesses to help them develop the necessary skills, including the ‘soft’ skills they believe will be more important as jobs evolve.”


  • When recruiting from the outside, money and title matter. When recruiting from the inside, relationships matter.
  • A healthy firm culture means people stay around and you can be more selective, at least when recruiting internally.
  • Titles count, as does firm reputation. People take pride in their professions and the companies they work for.
  • Millennials want a diverse workplace and a firm that shares their progressive values, but job flexibility and help developing the skills they need to succeed also rank highly with them.