The Legal and Compliance field has been a highly sought after job function within Hong Kong since 2008/2009 and that trend seems to be continuing with Legal and Compliance job advertising growing at a rate of between 30-40% year on year.
The problem that currently faces the new batch of Law graduates is that demand for Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) places outstrips that of supply. There are approximately 650 slots in PCLL at the three HK Universities, and about 500 training seats available each year, law schools are already providing more candidates than the profession can accommodate. With the competition for entering the PCLL at an all time high, schools and the profession are unable to keep up with the pace. As a result, many Legal students are looking towards Compliance as a viable career option after studying for a degree in Law, rather than contemplating a career in Education, Commerce, and Government etc. Given this, many Compliance professionals working in Hong Kong have a degree in Law.
Graduates don’t necessarily need to start off at a Bank, as it is becoming more common in Hong Kong for those to begin their careers in the Compliance consulting arm of the Big 4 firms or the regulators (HKMA / SFC). While some Banks have rotation programmes within their business, or Compliance focused graduated schemes, competition in these areas is highly competitive as well. Graduates tend to be from Law or Finance degrees, with ACAMS, CFE and CFA qualifications being popular amongst Compliance professionals as well.
There seems to be no signs of demand slowing down in respect of Compliance professionals, as banks are trying to stay on top of the ever changing regulations, both local and international, relating for example, to Anti Money Laundering (AML), Financial Crime Compliance (FCC), Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) and Anti Bribery & Corruption (ABC). Also, Hong Kong is being affected by both American and British regulatory reforms, and given that the policing and surveillance of Financial Fraud across Asia has been on the increase and gaining attention worldwide, Compliance is increasingly seen as a viable option to pursuing a career in Law.
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