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.

March 19, 2013

Interview with the Founder-Maurice Gilbert of Conselium and Corporate Compliance Insights

1.         Where did you grow up and what were your interests as a youngster?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and my interests as a youth centered on playing competitive tennis. My dream was to make it on the Pro tour.  My other interest was listening to Motown music:  Marvin Gay, Supremes, Temptations, etc.

2.         Where did you go to college and what experiences there led to your current profession?

I went to Eastern Michigan University; I studied sociology and general business. I also played on the tennis team.  On summer breaks I taught tennis at camps and tennis clubs.  What eventually lead me to the executive search business were primarily two things: first, my knowledge of business, having spent 20 years in corporate America with the likes of GE, and second, my desire to coach and mentor professionals with their career. I remembered how gratifying it was teaching tennis and helping with a person’s development.  In short, I took my passion for coaching and applied it in the business setting I became familiar with.

3.         Can you explain the philosophy of Conselium and what do you believe makes it stand out from similar firms?

When our clients engage us they usually are already experiencing exposure to risk by not having the appropriate hire on board.   That means there’s a level of urgency about filling a position. For us, exceptional customer service means putting our client first and responding to that urgency.  We work weekends, holidays — whatever it takes to meet or exceed expectations.

Another unique factor that contributes to our success is that we have developed our brand by specializing in a very narrow niche: our focus is placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel in highly regulated environments. The narrower your focus, the more you set yourself up as subject matter experts. We have even developed our brand on a global footprint due to our specialization.  I recommend anyone interested in the subject of branding read “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” by Al Ries.

The third thing I think that makes our search firm unique is the development of Corporate Compliance Insights. Having this online publication has afforded us an opportunity to expand the network of the search business while developing relationships with Compliance and Legal professionals throughout the world. CCI gives compliance experts a place to come together every day to share ideas and opinions.  It keeps all of us on top of the issues that are important in this niche, and it gives Conselium access to the best and the brightest.

4.         What led you to start Corporate Compliance Insights and what do you hope to bring to the compliance community through this resource?

We decided to develop the publication because we met several GRC professionals like you with a wealth of information who needed a platform to share ideas and showcase their knowledge.  CCI has really exceeded our expectations, which for us reinforces that there was a void in this space.  As we look to the future, we see CCI as a leader in providing rich content for useful/practical solutions to fellow GRC practitioners, an aggregator of GRC events and an aggregator of GRC jobs.  We also have a vision of building a CCI community that facilitates greater interaction among our readers, because we sense there’s a desire in the compliance community to have regular, meaningful dialogue about issues and best practices.

5.         With your dual roles at Conselium and CCI, where do you see the compliance field going in 2013 and beyond?

The compliance field is still in the “toddler” stage, and there is still much to be done.  I am a real proponent of education; specifically the Compliance Officers have to educate management about the benefits of having a robust ethical & compliant (E & C) environment.  There is information available that having a robust E & C actually contributes to the bottom line.   Think about it: a solid program attracts employees, vendors, investors, customers, etc.  It’s just good for business.  We must do a better job at educating so that more compliance officers have a seat at the “C” suite.  Having a Compliance Officer report to the General Counsel or other management executive and not directly to the Board has the potential for significant conflicts of interest.

So what I am saying is there is significant opportunity to grow our profession provided we are vigilant in educating those around us.   Speaking of education, there are some universities that provide some undergrad courses on ethics/compliance.  We at CCI have developed a relationship with the HAAS School at UC Berkeley in helping their visibility with an Executive Ethics & Compliance Program.  It is the hope of the HAAS program to get sufficient interest to create a graduate program in Ethics & Compliance.   We do need a feeder system from our universities much the way we have law schools and other graduate programs that provide young professionals with the basics before entering the workforce.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2013

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