With the outbreak of the world health crisis in 2020, many businesses were faced with innumerable challenges. To be specific, a large number of companies in the U.S. experienced significant layoffs, organizational restructuring, hiring freezes, and some were unfortunately forced to close their doors entirely. With the pandemic implicating the Legal market throughout 2020, at Larson Maddox, we witnessed Financial Services institutions, both large and small, considerably reduce their workforce from anywhere between 2%-50%.
Despite a sizeable portion of layoffs compounded by pandemic and its economic downturn, hiring activity did not completely freeze over. Fortunately, Compliance departments were sheltered from major budget cuts and did not find themselves at a crosshair with layoffs, despite hiring in the Financial Services industry losing momentum. Although some businesses may have had a budget deficit with regard to hiring new professionals, others prioritized their mission-critical hires, thus the Compliance function, on the whole, required regulatory support.
If they were able to successfully hire, companies encountered an opportunity, or challenge, that was twofold; namely, to virtually onboard new employees and effectively propagate a remote working paradigm. From the onset of the pandemic, businesses were hesitant about virtual hiring and onboarding new remote starters, which posed its own set of challenges regarding a lack of face-to-face interaction. While the aforementioned presented valid factors for organizations to pause their recruitment efforts, it is imperative to continue hiring activity for business-critical roles that contribute to corporate success and measurable growth.
When one takes a closer look at the remote working paradigm within the Compliance discipline, many businesses have adapted extremely well to this business model. Moving forward, remote working is perhaps the preferred option and may persist long after the global pandemic. Whether positions are transitioning to fully remote, or employees are allocated more flexibility to work offsite on a weekly basis, systematic change is certainly on the horizon. Most companies are now equipped with the technology and tools to virtual interview and onboard new employees, with many choosing to structure in-person interviews for individuals who are fully vaccinated. Concurrently, in job adverts and listings, fully remote roles have diminished, yet positions that offer a flexible package are in higher demand.
This year, hiring trends seemed to follow a steady recruitment process that simultaneously mirrored a strong growth trajectory. Although this does differ from business to business, based on the multifaceted factors and dialogue with candidates, many expect bonuses to markedly improve from 2020. Additionally, corporate incentives including a surge in vacation time and tokens of appreciation, in the form of extended holidays or mental health breaks to boost employee morale, are clearly making headways this year. Post-pandemic, employee wellbeing is a top priority within the talent community – corporations that fail to recognize this risk losing their key market visionaries to competitors.
For the Compliance field specifically, 2021 has already been an interesting year from a regulatory perspective. Regulators still expect institutions’ reports to be accurate, complete, traceable, auditable, and delivered on time. Last year, there was a record number of investigations opened and whistleblowers dollars paid. Due to Covid-19, regulators gave firms a grace period to submit reports, including quarterly reports, and that grace period is coming to an end as we begin to chart a path forward to the ‘new normal’. Regulators have done their utmost to maintain the status quo during the tumultuous year of 2020, but many Compliance professionals expect an increase in their activity or have already encountered it.
At Larson Maddox, we have observed a human error factor regarding several headline-grabbing Compliance issues this past year, and as remote work and automation continue to rise, we forecast the ever-increasing need for updated technology, privacy, surveillance policies, and software. Some smaller institutions are adopting cloud-based regulatory reporting and what’s more, hybrid Compliance and technology roles are also proactively filtering through in the market as the two disciplines become deeply intertwined.
Last year, the Compliance space and Financial Services were clearly presented with a daunting test to shift operations to a remote model and additionally put their business continuity and technological capabilities through its paces. Hopefully, this will allow for more flexibility in work-life balance as we move through 2021 and beyond to a post-pandemic workplace. Subsequently, the hiring landscape for Compliance will inevitably morph and evolve as companies examine costs, risks, and the evolution of technology within their programs.
If you would like to connect with the Larson Maddox team, a specialist brand in the award-winning Phaidon International group, to discuss market changes, gain exclusive insights into hiring activities, or learn more about our exceptional recruitment services, please do not hesitate to reach out.