Our industry sources on both the buy and sell side have reported increased gender diversity over the past 5 years within compliance departments in the US.
Research conducted by Sheffield Haworth indicates that across a broad spectrum of US financial services firms, 1/3 of the compliance departments are staffed with female executives. Is this a growing departmental trend?
A senior HR executive stated that women are naturally more successful than men at “collective negotiation by consensus” and have historically held senior level positions in HR, Marketing or Investor Relations for this reason. Would personality and perceived gender 'traits' be a driver for growth in the ratio of males to females?
Sheffield Haworth conducted surveys of major buy and sell side institutions within the US and found that both the general sentiment and the rise in the number of female CCO’s in these institutions proves that the function continues to be a growing path of choice due to its increased visibility at boardroom level. In these challenging times, as the regulatory environment continues to evolve, compliance officers need to be flexible and adapt quickly, especially in the Hedge Fund and Private Equity sectors where dealing with regulators and annual compliance reporting is becoming a reality.
Firms with CCOs that are women in the following Financial Markets*
- Asset Management: 32% CCOs are women out of top 50 firms
- Hedge Funds: 36% CCOs are women out of top 50 firms
- Bank Holding Companies: 20% CCOs are women out of top 50 firms
- Broker Dealers: 35% CCOs are women out of top 50 firms
- Merchant Banks: 7% CCOs are women out of top 43 firms
*Utilized the largest firms in the US for each Financial Market
A successful compliance officer today has to interact with all facets of the firm since the role calls for a significant degree of coordination and collaboration. Compliance used to be thought of as a “heavy handed” function; however, roles are shifting as the expectations of business leaders move away from simply wanting “checked boxes”, to the introduction of new ideas based on critical regulatory issues that are driving the markets. Tenacity and pro-active questioning, essential to the decision making process, are also a characteristic.
Of those compliance specialists spoken to, many issued statements identifying pervasive qualities female colleagues were perceived to possess; “[we can] build trust and credibility quickly while disarming critics by communicating practical and intelligent ideas”, “[we] enjoy working with numerous facets of a firm’s leadership team (compliance/legal/risk) and coordination and collaboration come naturally”.
One source, a global head of Enterprise Risk and Compliance at a US-based global money centre bank stated that “this [compliance] function requires strong influencing skills up and down management ranks and across products, businesses and geographies and offers location/schedule flexibility which most other functions simply can’t afford.”
So are we to believe that compliance can offer up the ideal working scenario for anyone with these characteristics and traits?
A 2012 Thomson Reuters survey showed how lucrative compliance roles have become – 70% expected the cost of senior compliance staff to be higher in 2012 as 84% will see higher rates of regulatory information come through. It follows that the demand from clients for high performing and high influencing individuals will be proportionately moving along the same lines and the best candidate on the day will always win out. Be they male or female.