Skill-Shortages and Hiring Demands in the Retail Finance and Insurance Sector

  • May 24, 2018

Our Managing Consultant for Retail Conduct, Jodie Sable, breaks down some of the skills and experiences that make up the 'most desirable profiles' and how we as a specialist risk and regulatory recruiter identify candidates with those profiles and test and qualify those specific skills and experiences.


FourthLine’s Retail Conduct team supports clients across retail banking, wider lending, payments and insurance to hire risk management and assurance, regulatory compliance and change professionals on a permanent and interim basis. 

Although our clients offer a diverse portfolio of products and services, we have identified considerable similarities in the candidate skills and experiences they value most when looking to hire business-critical regulatory talent.

Balancing Commerciality with Compliance

Companies want confidence that their board, senior management and wider leadership teams are making critical decisions with both growth and innovation in mind, as well as ensuring regulatory compliance and reducing the risk of reputational damage.

How do we go about identifying regulatory professionals with this type of mindset? It does heavily depend on the businesses they have worked for, at what level and what type of exposure they have had to the launch of new products, new initiatives, acquisitions and more. It might be that they have been specifically involved in designing bespoke policies in relation to new products or sat on the board or a committee. The implementation and soon to be extension of SMCR should in theory mean that firms will have to make more balanced decisions and therefore the next generation of regulatory professionals will all have this mindset.

Theory Vs Implementation

When making critical hires, it’s essential to identify candidates with not only detailed theoretical understanding of existing and upcoming regulations, but also practical experience of implementing the associated changes. Knowledge of regulatory rules or handbooks alone without experience reviewing, amending and rolling out new policies and processes is often a concern for hiring managers with smaller teams where a more diverse skill set is needed. The ideal candidate will have experience of understanding the regulation and then creating fit for purpose solutions, across a variety of businesses with different needs or goals that allow for growth or innovation.  Experience working on change projects, whether driven by regulation or individual business change, is highly valued by hiring managers. When qualifying this experience, we look for evidence of ‘I’ vs ‘we’, the detailed impact of their involvement as well as seeking assurance of their contribution via testimonials.

Effective stakeholder management

I don’t think I have ever taken a job specification from a client where relationship building skills or effective stakeholder management has not been one of the most important things to get right in the hiring process. But what does that mean, and which stakeholders are we specifically referring to?

We want to find candidates who are business facing and regularly meet with, advise and challenge other key decision makers within their firms. Most businesses say that want to build a compliant culture, or for compliance to work with the business and not against it, so it’s essential that compliance professionals find common ground with the first line of defence and wider business. An effective compliance professional will adapt their style based on the stakeholder they are working with and take time to understand their goals and deliverables to empathise. We would seek to understand the different stakeholders our candidate has worked with and what sort of challenges they have faced and overcome.

Specialists vs Generalists

Depending on the business, the structure of the team and the role itself, we are often asked to acquire candidates with either specialist or more generalist skills and experience. There are multiple ways in which we might differentiate or assess the two. Firstly, are we looking for specific skills, in a particular sector, or are we looking for an industry expert?

Similarly, are we looking for a compliance generalist, who can turn their hand to writing policy, working on change projects, interpreting upcoming regulations and creating solutions or are we looking for more of an industry generalist such as compliance professional with varied experience across general insurance, retail banking or payments.

There are of course advantages of hiring both, as mentioned above, dependant on the needs of the team and wider business. As Fourthline have a detailed knowledge of all compliance disciplines, we are skilled at recognising a true specialist vs key words on a CV!


As FourthLine’s Retail Conduct team works with firms across banking, wider lending, payments and insurance, we often find that certain qualifications are more desirable than others as a result. From a technical compliance perspective, ICA qualifications are strongly preferred and again dependant on the level of the role being recruited for. Sometimes more of an industry focused qualification is more desirable. Several mortgage provider clients insist on a CeMAp qualification to better understand the process that their mortgage advisors go through and to provide more empathetic advice. Our insurance clients prefer their compliance team to hold CII or ACII, sometimes instead of or in addition to ICA qualifications.

Are they needed? I would always be inclined to argue that experience is more highly valued than qualifications. However, in a competitive market, qualifications might represent something further than just knowledge. Commitment and dedication to building a career in compliance is something hiring managers have recently asked to me ascertain. Personal investment in acquiring relevant qualifications is something I would review when assessing this.


Finally, I’d like to discuss the ever-topical issue of Culture. Arguably, ‘cultural fit’ is not a skill or experience, but it is definitely one of the most important things that my clients ask me to prioritise, no matter what size of the firm or whether the role is a permanent or interim hire. The skill of accurately assessing cultural fit and subsequently matching suitable candidates and clients is highly demanded of good recruiters in the sector. Following recent market research we have conducted, feedback from our clients suggests that this, in conjunction with our ability to understand and assess technical competence, is why they would choose to work with us over our competition. By taking the time to understand how our clients define their culture, we are able to shortlist candidates we’re confident share the same values, beliefs and have similar approaches and attitudes. The positive impact of valuing cultural fit as equally important as technical skills means both the candidate and client are given confidence that the career move or hire is going to be the right one.

This has just been a snapshot of the in-demand skills and experience we’re looking to identify every day on behalf of our clients. Different firms will value and prioritise different profiles according to their company vision, culture, market position and existing talent. However, it’s also our responsibility to share these insights and support our valued network in making the right choices to invest in the skills, experience and qualifications that allow them to progress their careers and ultimately secure their dream roles.

To discuss your recruitment needs with one of our team, please contact us.




£ k