FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

August 12, 2015

Why Is It So Hard to Hire People in Compliance?

Filed under: Chief Compliance Officer,Compliance,Conselium,Maurice Gilbert — tfoxlaw @ 12:01 am

Maurice GilbertEd. Note-I recently asked Maurice Gilbert, founder and CEO of Conselium Executive Search if he would share some thoughts as to why and how a company should use an executive search firm when recruiting a C-Suite level executive, specifically a Chief Compliance Officer. Maurice graciously responded with the below post on how his company can assist in such a search and more importantly why companies should use a professional search firm in such situations. 


As managing partner of an executive search firm, I’m often asked how the sluggish economy affects our business.  Truth?  Not at all.  We place compliance officers, and our business is booming.

The demand for top-notch compliance pros is high, and the supply low. Hunting heads takes time, talent and chutzpah.  If it were easy, companies wouldn’t need us.

Here’s an example of a typical search:

The phone rings.  It’s the senior vice president of HR at a prominent medical device company.  Would we entertain a search for an EVP Chief Compliance Officer?

“Certainly,” I tell her. “When do you need to have this job filled?”


She goes on to explain they posted the job on their website five months ago and also added it to a few major online job boards.  When responses were sluggish, their internal recruiter joined the hunt (more on this later.) She had reviewed 17 CV’s before calling me – not one of which warranted an interview.

Our search began by calling and emailing compliance officers in our (vast) network.  We’ve spent a decade compiling contact info and building relationships with Compliance Officers.

Next step: Screening candidates.  We typically screen 100 professionals for every qualified candidate we present to a client.  In this case, we identified 5 candidates – so you can do the math there.  We screened over 500 applicants in this stage of the process.

One candidate in particular stood out.  So we called and left a message.  Then we called again.  Then we left another message.  Another call, another message.  Finally – his wife phoned us. Remember I told you this process takes diplomacy and chutzpah?  Turns out the candidate was working in a town his wife thought was unfit for raising their children.  The job we were offering was in a town she thought would be great for the family. Could we help get his career (and maybe the marriage) back on track?

Long story short, we got him the interview.  The candidate got the job, and my client got the compliance department problem solved.  Another happy ending.

It took three months, start to finish.  Should a busy C-suite executive or HR manager rely on a specialty search firm to get the job done?  Yes. We applied three full time dedicated employees to this search for the three-month period – that amounts to 360 hours.  So why was our client unable to hire the CCO by their own efforts?

Well, consider these facts:

  • The client posted the job to all the job boards, but only 15 percent of qualified professionals are actively looking for a job.  Most of them are too busy working.  They’re not scouring job boards.  That means 85 percent of qualified candidates aren’t actively looking for a new job — but they may be receptive if they’re personally contacted…in the right way.
  • The client did assign the job opening to an internal recruiter. But does the internal recruiter have a massive database of compliance professionals to tap and the personal relationship with them?  No way.  He had to start identifying candidates from scratch.
  • Does the internal recruiter have hundreds of hours to devote to one search?  No, an internal recruiter is assigned as many as 20 open requisitions to fill at any given time.
  • Does the internal recruiter have the expertise required to evaluate a compliance officer?   Typically not; most are generalists.
  • Does the internal recruiter have the resources to put together a compelling presentation to entice a candidate to listen to the opportunity?   Typically no.  A dynamic presentation to highly sought-after professionals requires a presentation that speaks to the positives of the company, the job, the culture, the career growth options, the community, etc.

So why do companies that want top compliance professionals retain our firm?  It’s just like retaining a law firm for litigation purposes. You’d never attempt to represent yourself in court without an attorney, right?

Hiring authorities work with Conselium to tap its vast network of top talent. It works to match a company’s needs with the right professional. For Candidates, those who work with Conselium get access to a “hidden” ’ job market of unadvertised positions. Finally, Conselium focuses on compliance, audit and regulatory counsel positions. To check out the company and get in touch with Maurice for your compliance search needs, click here.

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