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FSR lays burden on legal teams

FSR lays burden on legal teams

A NEW BANKING and finance legal recruitment survey has revealed the incomes legal professionals can expect in retail banking, funds, superannuation and financial services reform, as well as…

A NEW BANKING and finance legal recruitment survey has revealed the incomes legal professionals can expect in retail banking, funds, superannuation and financial services reform, as well as investment banking.

As well as offering members of the profession a yard stick by which they can match their own salaries, Taylor Root’s recently released ‘Australian Legal Banking and Finance Market Survey’ reveals the pressures Financial Services Reform (FSR) has placed on in-house legal teams, particularly in the retail markets.

Taylor Root manager Claire Courtenay said: “FSR is an area everyone needs to cover in some way or another. There is a scarcity of people in the market, so there is a demand for those lawyers. So, [these lawyers] have more options, and the more options you have the better chance you have to negotiate.”

“If there is a lawyer with FSR experience, funds experience or corporate FSR experience at the right level, around the three to four year mark, they would be getting more options both in private practice and in-house,” she said.

As well, there has been a creation of the compliance lawyer, forced into existence by the increasingly regulated market, said Courtenay. The innovation of this type of lawyer “is acknowledgment that lawyers can take a dual role”, she said.

“It is typically in smaller teams where they may straddle legal and compliance. We have clients who are saying they want a lawyer, but inevitably some part of their job is compliance. So they will be a compliance lawyer. They will be giving legal advice but perhaps with an oversight of compliance. They may be not doing day-to-day compliance, they might be managing a couple of compliance analysts or offices,” she said.

But these positions are hard to fill, with most candidates not being interested in taking on the dual role, said Courtenay. “So it is a difficult role to fill.”

The skills shortage takes a toll in funds and superannuation as well, the Taylor Root survey reveals. For financial services organisations, candidate shortages have struggled to fill vacancies in these areas throughout the year. In some cases, they have been forced to “revise up” the level at which they recruit, or train lawyers with gaps in their experience.

But funds in particular is a “very exciting” area at the moment, said Courtenay. “Trying to find people with good funds experience is very difficult, so inevitably that will push salaries up. Whenever there is a scarcity of anything in the market you are in a better position to leverage. Just as it was during dot com when you needed people with IT experience, at the moment it is funds, though obviously not to such a massive extent.”

As well, with regulatory issues playing a role in the way lawyers do their jobs on a day-to-day basis in financial services organisation, many of those organisations will not consider the pool of candidates returning from overseas because they lack the hands-on experience.

Locally gained experience is still preferred, said Courtenay. “A lot of clients value people who have experience overseas, but they also want experience gained in the local market. Even though there is a skills shortage, and people are more open about sponsorship, there is still not an appetite to sponsor people in-house like there is in private practice,” she said.

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