Financial Compliance Jobs in Europe

Financial Compliance Jobs in Europe625x350

The fallout from the 2008 financial crisis moved the needle on the value placed on compliance across the world. Governments suddenly implemented new robust policies, and previously passive regulators began cracking down on breaches and anti-money laundering (AML) failings using new punitive measures – forcing compliance functions to increase their resources and widen their scope.  

Amid this regulatory reform – such as GDPR, MiFID II, EMIR, Basel III, Solvency II, and AIFMD – heightened enforcement, and increased investment, financial compliance professionals are in high demand to fill the specialist roles that have been created to maintain the integrity and stability of the financial sector.

Brexit and the pandemic

This trend has been perpetuated by another two major events in recent years: Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain’s departure from the EU led to an exodus of British firms to the continent. For example, Germany is experiencing a surge in investment from British businesses fleeing there post-Brexit to gain a foothold in the single market to ease the red tape burden – exposing them to new financial laws and regulations.

Meanwhile, the surge in the number of cyberattacks against financial institutions during the pandemic – 74% of banks and insurers experienced an increase in cybercrime – made ensuring compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR difficult. A subsequent increase in non-compliance risks in the financial sector prompted further investment in compliance functions.

Regulatory reform

Banks are publishing record numbers of risk and compliance jobs in the UK following the announcement of a flurry of regulatory initiatives and changes. According to research by global recruiters Morgan McKinley and data analysts Vacancysoft, banks published 850 risk and compliance vacancies in January 2022, 87.6% more than the same month in 2019.

The EU is overhauling key provisions in some existing regulations, including MiFID II and the Alternative Investment Funds Manager Directive. Meanwhile, significant new regimes such as the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive are due to be implemented in 2023 or 2024. The UK’s new Consumer Duty takes effect from July 2024, while the Financial Services and Markets Bill proposes notable regulatory changes.

To ensure their systems and processes keep pace with this dynamic regulatory landscape, many financial firms have split the responsibilities for financial crime and other conduct compliance areas into separate internal units – expanding the financial compliance job market in the process.


London is the biggest financial centre in Europe, but Germany is scoring highly in the post-Brexit popularity stakes, causing a surge in compliance opportunities. Frankfurt’s banking scene has experienced a boom since Britain’s exit from the EU after many big global banks chose Germany’s financial capital to house staff and assets as a consequence of Brexit – with dozens of institutions applying for German licences.

Banks that have increased their presence in Frankfurt – recently dubbed Bankfurt or Mainhattan, after the river Main that the city straddles – include Citigroup, JPMorgan, Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs.

Career prospects

As the regulatory screw continues to be tightened across the financial services sector, organisations are acutely aware that a reactive approach to compliance exposes them to financial penalties and reputational damage. The subsequent need for a proactive strategy is causing demand for financial compliance professionals to outstrip supply, forcing organisations to compete for the best workers who increasingly recognise their market value.

If we take the average salary of a Compliance Manager as a gauge of the financial compliance pay scale across Europe, Holland comes out on top, closely followed by the UK: Holland €62,600, UK €60,800, Germany €58,700, Spain €49,100, France €48,400, Italy €46,900.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, compliance professionals’ stock will continue to rise amid a realisation that it’s no longer possible for businesses to achieve their goals without operating legally and ethically.


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