17 July 2019

The compliance officer cometh

Study reveals 2019 compliance compensation, highlighting the rise of the chief compliance officer role.

Compliance officers are rising in status, while those in compliance roles with a law degree are earning more, according the BarkerGilmore, a boutique executive search firm, which has released the 2019 compliance compensation report.

Competitive advantage

“It has been exciting to witness the rise of the chief compliance officer role to a member of the executive leadership team over the past several years.  Members of the c-suite and board appreciate the value and competitive advantage that an effective CCO and compliance program bring to the business,” commented John Gilmore, founding partner of BarkerGilmore. The survey shows that compliance function employees with a Juris Doctor have a higher median total compensation than those who do not have the degree. Chief compliance officers with a law degree have a total median compensation of $407,832 while their counterparts without a law degree, who have an advanced degree, have a median compensation of $275,000, according to the report. Annual salary rates overall are increasing, with the median annual salary increase rate for all positions across industries at 4.1, though down 0.1 percent from the previous year, with the consumer sector experiencing the highest median increase rate of 4.8 percent from 2017 to 2018. The industrial & manufacturing sector experienced the lowest increase rate at 3.7 percent, which is particularly interesting, because this sector reported some of the highest increase rates in 2017.


In peer comparison, 46 percent of all respondents believe their compensation is average or comparable to that of their peers at other organizations. 25 percent feel their compensation is above or significantly above average, while 29 percent believe they are underpaid. Compliance officers in the consumer and healthcare & life sciences industries express the highest levels of satisfaction, with 30 percent reporting compensation above or significantly above average. Those in the financial industry express the greatest dissatisfaction, with 33 percent reporting compensation below or significantly below average. Forty percent of respondents indicate that they will consider a new position within the next year due to compensation issues. Although consumer-industry compliance officers express satisfaction in comparison to peers, they also report the greatest likelihood of a job search in the next year, while those in the technology industry are least likely to engage in a job search. Overall, the majority of compliance officers are satisfied with the compensation in their current roles.


Comparing public against private, at all position levels, a statistically significant difference exists between the compensation of those at publicly traded companies and those at private companies. Aside from the education differences, the size of the gap between public and private organization compliance officers is especially noticeable through the Long Term Incentive (LTI) compensation component. LTI is much higher for public company compliance officers and non-existent for most private company compliance officers. In respect to gender, on average, female compliance professionals earn 76 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Unlike last year, the gap is largest at the individual contributor level, where females earn only 72 percent of the total compensation that their male counterparts earn. The cco level is not much different, with women earning about 74 percent of what their male counterparts earn. The managing compliance officer level saw the smallest disparity with females earning 91 percent of what males earn.

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