Spotlight On Compliance: The Rise Of Trade Surveillance

With a new administration in the White House, regulatory compliance has been a hot topic as of late. Although there has been talk of regulatory rollbacks, this field still remains a very important segment of the financial services industry. In fact, a number of financial institutions are taking proactive steps to strengthen their compliance teams.

“Trade surveillance, in particular, is one area of compliance that is currently experiencing major growth,” says Alex Wright, a Senior Managing Director with The Execu|Search Group.  “Despite any steps toward deregulation, the standard has already been set. To ensure that illegal or unfair trading practices do not contribute to another financial collapse, hedge funds need the support of trade and compliance professionals. This is a trend that we only foresee strengthening in the future.”

Whether you are experienced in trade surveillance or hoping to break into this field, now is the right time to make a move.  Here are three things you should know before you get started:

The ideal background(s):

If you are interested in pursuing these roles, it’s important to showcase the skills and experience that hiring managers are looking for in candidates. “While relevant trade experience with demonstrated strength on the compliance side at a larger bank and/or smaller hedge fund is ideal, there are opportunities for professionals with different backgrounds,” explains Alex. “Since trade surveillance is a field that is constantly evolving, diverse skillsets are certainly in demand. As a result, this is a great opportunity for professionals to carve out a unique niche for themselves.”

For example, tech professionals, case managers/investigators, other compliance professionals, and recent law school grads with an interest in finance are a few different professionals who would be successful in a trade surveillance role. To stand out against the competition when interviewing, ensure you stay up-to-date on current regulatory developments, have a firm grasp on key rules and regulations impacting your line of securities, and be able to comfortably articulate the value you can add.

A true middle office role:

One of the many benefits of trade surveillance is that it offers the opportunity to work with many different areas of a firm. “Monitoring and reviewing trades is only one component of this role,” notes Alex. “Responsibilities beyond this include, but are not limited to, analyzing data, searching different market data, and designing and implementing new surveillance capabilities.” The multifaceted nature of this role means that you’ll be collaborating with legal, IT, and front office teams. In the long run, this diverse experience can increase your marketability for future opportunities.

The rise in project-based/consulting opportunities:

Hedge funds and banks typically need trade surveillance specialists for a variety of reasons. While one firm may need an analyst to cover for an employee on a leave of absence, for instance, another may require additional staff to handle a seasonal uptick in workload or implement new surveillance capabilities. This is to say, an opportunity can arise at any point in time.

“Due to these increasingly common circumstances, many employers prefer to hire on a temporary/consulting basis,” explains Alex. “This solution not only offers more flexibility, but also allows firms to remain agile in an ever-evolving industry. Turning to trade surveillance specialists who have consulted on various projects gives them exposure to different ways of thinking— helping them improve their internal processes.”

Finance professionals who pursue these opportunities will derive similar benefits of temporary work. By consulting for different firms, you can gain experience with different software and develop new skills faster. These project-based roles also provide you with the flexibility to identify the right long term role for you, giving you more control over your career.