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Few CCOs Would Accept Post Again: Thin Budgets, Lack of Support Give Legal Eagles Pause


Less than half of the chief compliance officers hired in the past year would unconditionally accept the same jobs today, according to survey data provided exclusively for Money Management Executive.

The survey, a joint venture by the recruitment firm Diversified Management Resources and the National Investment Company Service Association, asked chief compliance officers who started a year ago whether they would take their job again if it was offered to them today. Of those surveyed, 43% gave an unequivocal "yes," while another 43% said they would take the job only if certain conditions were met. Another 14% said no.

Of the 43% who said they would take the job again only on certain conditions, 81% listed a larger budget as one of those conditions, and 58% said they wanted co-workers to be more proactive in helping combat compliance issues.

"They want support," said Charles O'Neill, president of DMR.

Companies hiring those CCOs said that lack of qualified candidates, and not excessive salary demands, was the key issue in finding a new chief compliance officer.

"There are just not enough compliance professionals to go around," O'Neill said.

Besides the evaluation of CCOs, a part of the survey that will be sold separately, DMR and NICSA evaluated compensation trends and career issues across all segments of the investment management industry. Some of the numbers drawn, while not startling, underscore the need for better understanding among employers of what their employees covet most. What makes that problem especially immediate is the reality that most respondents feel that the investment industry job market is getting beefier, causing them to talk to recruiters and other managers.

"It's time for employers in our industry to think about staff retention again," O'Neill said. While most investment managers think that their employees care about money only and leave their jobs mostly because of it, O'Neill continued, this and other surveys prove the hypothesis is simply not true.

On 75% of the surveys, the quality of the employee and management team was listed as something that makes a job more attractive. Seventy-two percent of the respondents called the desire to achieve a better work/life balance as one of the most important things, while 67% listed opportunity for higher compensation as a top factor.

"Money is a motivator to a certain extent," O'Neill said, adding that "if an experience with a supervisor is poor, they won't stay."

The reason they won't stay is that 59% feel that the job market is stronger now than it was a year ago, while just 4% think it is weaker. They must have gotten those feelings for a reason, it seems, because 68% said a search firm or another employer had contacted them within the past year. In turn, nearly half the respondents, 47%, said they would be open to a new employment opportunity.

O'Neill compared the employer who just offers money and little else to the wife or husband that buys a new fancy car for his or her spouse every six months. It's good at first, but wears off real fast.

The survey showed that while 42% felt they were underpaid based on their experience and the value of their work, only 4% said they were extremely unsatisfied with their pay. In other words, more than half were at least satisfied with their pay.

In light of the scandal and its subsequent fallout, people working in operations have faced perhaps the greatest deal of pressure in their jobs. So, not surprisingly, 61% of the people in operations, compared to 47% overall, called themselves open to new job opportunities. Similarly, 87%, compared to 75% among other areas, valued quality of employer and management as a top priority in a new job opportunity.

"That stands to reason," said O'Neill of the operations area results. "Who's been in the vortex of all that change?"

More than half of the 1,000 investment industry professionals polled work for firms managing $100 billion or more in assets. Nearly half have worked in their current job function, although not necessarily the same position or firm, for more than 11 years. Sixty percent said they have worked in the securities industry for more than 11 years.

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