Talent market update: legal & compliance

1 October 2019

Kerry Gillitt (left) and Catherine Clark (below right) provide insight on the 3Q19 headline trends in the area of legal & compliance, where competition for talent has driven salaries up around 10% year-on-year

By nature, the legal and compliance talent market tends to be slower than most. Legal teams often benefit from low staff turnover and growth tends to be steady.

Department sizes vary from 1-4 for a mid-sized operator up to 20-30 for international businesses.

There are two key arenas where competition for talent becomes more acute. The first is for mid-level, gaming specialist lawyers – in low supply and rarely on the market. The second is for ‘first-in-the-door’ generalists who can help establish new legal functions within growing start-ups.

The most ambitious lawyers work hard to put themselves in a position with broad horizons, workload variety and commercial influence.

Start-ups often appeal for this reason, but larger employers have also found success by offering roles that involved increased advisory responsibility, direct access to the CEO and even equity in the business.

Salaries are up around 10% year-on-year, rising to rates that many employers – particularly smaller, younger companies – find unpalatable.

The value is justified, though, by short market supply and infrequent turnover. Counter offers can be aggressive too; in one recent example, a gaming lawyer received a pay rise from $25,000 to $45,000 to extend their employment.

In compliance, the highly changeable European and global regulatory environment is making for challenging conditions.

Taking the GB Gambling Commission as an example, compliance professionals feel a disconnect between the great improvements they’ve been delivering and the increasing critical scrutiny the industry is experiencing.

Fraud and AML specialists, particularly MLROs, are in growing demand. Requiring specialist knowledge and often involving out-of-hours shift work, these roles can be hard to fill.

Employers are working hard to ensure talent pipelines, but increasingly have to compete with employers from outside of industry too.

Q3 legal & compliance hiring trends
Overall pace of the talent market is relatively slow, adding pressure on employers to move quickly to secure important hires.

  • The value of igaming experience remains high, especially for those with qualified legal status and familiarity with any of the world’s major gaming territories.
  • Talent supply is predictably extremely short in newly regulating territories or those in growth, including the USA, Sweden, the Netherlands, Portugal and elsewhere.
  • Malta’s employers have a continual requirement for entry- and mid-level fraud, AML and compliance executives. Additional benefits offered to sweeten these job offers include travel allowances, on-site chefs, annual wellness funds and team outings.
  • Fintech employers are increasingly competing with igaming for compliance talent, and often benefit from being able to offer 9-5 hours (versus’ igaming’s requirement for shift work).

Kerry Gillitt is managing consultant - legal and compliance, for Pentasia. Catherine Clark is a senior consultant in Malta for the search specialist.