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11 March 2013

UK financial compliance costs to keep rising

Content team

The costs to businesses in the UK's financial sector of keeping up with growing compliance regulations is set to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

This is according to research group ComPeer, which recently conducted a survey of 30 of the country's top wealth managers. It found the true cost of being in compliance with regulations was £420 million in 2011, but this figure is expected to grow to around £500 million by 2015, Wealth Briefing reports.

It noted this includes both direct costs as a result of compliance procedures - which are those dealt with by an institution's compliance department - as well as indirect costs. These were defined by ComPeer as representing the time spent by non-compliance staff on these issues.

One issue that was identified by the survey is that many compliance managers do not have enough information about their compliance costs. It was stated this may hinder a business' development and any attempts to build credibility with regulators, the UK government and European oversight bodies.

Not having a good idea about these expenses could also prevent companies from identifying any areas where they are not operating as efficiently as possible, while it can indicate that those in charge of ensuring compliance do not have a full picture of what is happening within their organisations.

Additionally, around 40 per cent of true compliance costs are related to fees and levies associated with the Financial Services Authority, which is equal to 17 per cent of the regulator's profits.

"The revenue generated by the average firm’s front-office professional in 2011 was £500,000. With 1.8 front-office staff working solely on compliance, that represents almost £1 million in opportunity costs," Wealth Briefing stated. In the UK's wealth management sector as a whole, this equates to £150 million in extra compliance costs.

Recently, research by recruitment firm Hedley May observed demand for compliance professionals in the UK's financial sector has soared in the last two years, following a number of scandals for the banking industry, the Financial Times reported.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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