Legal and compliance has had a golden decade since the 2008 financial crisis. In a complex regulatory landscape, professionals who ensure their employer plays by the rules of an ever-changing game are in high demand. According to Avenir Suisse, the costs of regulation in Switzerland correspond to up to 10% of gross domestic product, depending on the estimate.”
At the beginning of 2019, UBS Group AG received a fine and were ordered to pay out damages of €4.5bn, the largest penalty fine ever handed out to a Swiss bank. HSBC, which was fined $1.9bn in 2012 for banking Mexican drug money, has around 5,000 employees in anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance. Standard Chartered, which has coughed up $1.1bn for breaches of sanctions, has 3,500. At the end of 2018, some 30,000 (or 15%) of the 204,000 employees of Citigroup, worked in compliance, risk and other control functions – enough people to fill the Stadion Zürich. This is a vast increase when compared to 2008, where just over four percent of employees worked in legal and compliance.
A global study of risk and compliance officers at 800 financial firms in 2018 found that 43% expected their team to grow in the next 12 months. In Switzerland, industry bodies Ethics and Compliance Switzerland (ECS) and the Swiss chapter of ACAMS represent members from a wide range of financial institutions, regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and industry sectors. The bodies are dedicated to enhancing the knowledge, skills and expertise of professionals in this sector.
Regulations put in place post global financial crisis by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), the regulatory body in Switzerland, and the transferring from LIBOR, one of the main interest rate benchmarks used in global financial markets, to SARON is set to increase demand for legal and compliance professionals across Switzerland. In response to the latter, the National Working Group on Swiss Franc Reference Rates has been set up to collaboratively establish how financial institutions can successfully transfer to SARON.
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