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Global Salary Study Shows Strong Gender Balance and CAMS Professionals Earn 42 % More than Non-Certified Counterparts

Author : Angela Salter, Head of Europe at ACAMS

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the amount of money laundered globally in one year is estimated at two to five percent of global GDP, or as much as $2 trillion in U.S. dollars. Spotting and thwarting money laundering, terrorist funding and other financial crimes has become a desirable and lucrative career choice. This was demonstrated in the findings of the newly released Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) 2015 Compensation Guide, which was conducted across 4,605 respondents working at all levels within the AML and financial crime prevention industries.

The survey highlighted some interesting trends. European AML professionals are out-earning their counterparts elsewhere in the world and those with CAMS certification are earning a significant further global salary premium of nearly 42 percent. In Europe, median total compensation is $105,194 for CAMS professionals, compared with $86,476 for non-CAMS qualified counterparts, representing a higher total compensation base and 22% premium for those with CAMS certification. When European respondents were asked why they opted to undertake the CAMS certification, 51% said it was a personal choice made to accelerate their professional development. It should be highlighted that overall, median salary levels reported were lower than anticipated and this is attributed to the disproportionate number of respondents aged between 25 – 35, indicating a new trend among graduates, particularly with law degrees, to pursue a career in AML.

Although banking and finance has a reputation for being predominantly male dominated, the survey findings illustrate that AML is less so, with a 47% female and 53% male gender split globally. This trend was also maintained at top levels within the sector, with a 41% female to 59% male split. The median total compensation for women in this study is just over four percent lower than men. Whilst this still indicates a gender gap in earnings, it is a significant improvement on the near 12 percent difference reported in the 2013 ACAMS Compensation Guide and far lower than the 15 percent gap reported globally by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Angela Salter

Angela Salter

In addition to high salaries, AML professionals also reported high levels of job satisfaction and good work life balance. This comes despite widespread reports that senior compliance officers are known to be facing considerable pressure over implementing new regulations and personal liability from the EU 4th Directive and Senior Managers Regime. When asked to award a rating out of 100 to their levels of job satisfaction and work life balance, global scores were 97 and 90 respectively. Among top tier professionals, the scores remained high, although demonstrated the pressures facing those working at a more senior level. Rankings were 65 (work life balance) and 76 (job satisfaction).

European survey respondents across all levels also reported high levels of career satisfaction and positive work life balance, giving a 73/100 rating to their level of satisfaction with the AML and financial crime related profession as a whole and 65/100 to work life balance. 78% of global respondents indicated they worked between 40 and 50 hours a week, further demonstrating a positive work life balance.

Overall, these survey findings verify that AML and financial crime prevention is regarded as a highly desirable career path and CAMS is a highly sought after qualification that brings with it higher financial remuneration and excellent long-term career progression. What is clear is that as financial crimes and the criminals behind them become increasingly sophisticated and creative in their tactics, banks and financial institutions need to hire skilled and highly educated professionals. Employers agree and are clearly willing to pay a premium for this education.

The Compensation Guide also noted that total compensation levels rose considerably the longer a respondent has held the CAMS certification. Those who were CAMS certified over 10 years earned a median total compensation of over $150,000. Those in the highest 10 percent bracket earned more than $340,000 in 2014.

Other significant insights from the survey include:

  • Employees primarily focused in the areas of investing and brokerages had the highest median total compensation at $85,145; consultants had the largest median growth in base pay from 2013 to 2014 at nearly 12 percent.
  • Whether based on number of employees or annual revenue figures, larger sized organizations compensated AML professionals at a higher level.
  • The CAMS versus non-CAMS salary gap is widest in Central American and the Caribbean with CAMS certified professionals earning 88 percent more than their non-certified peers.
  • Half of all respondents’ total cash compensation fell between $43,350 and $108,000.
  • The AML profession is a relative newcomer. 75% of the respondents had nine years or less of AML experience; the median level of AML experience was five years.

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