Best Cities to Work in for Financial Crime & AML Consultants

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Sep 9, 2015 8:25:00 AM

In ICS insights

If you have worked in AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and have actively looked for open positions, you know the number of open Regulatory driven AML and Financial Crimes projects is increasing across the country. It is clear that professionals in this area are in high demand right now.

As you go through the application process, you might be entertaining projects that are not located in the city you reside in. Location is one of the most important factors to consider when you are determining your professional future. It is a critical piece in navigating your career path because it not only dictates your professional life, but your personal life as well. When you’re thinking about where to work, its important to think about the current job market in that particular city, average salary, costs of living, local culture, and potential career longevity.

We have compiled some market intelligence in determining the best cities to work in for AML professionals based on aggregated data, both qualitative and quantitative, that came directly from a sample of our current consultants across the US, as well as the ICS database of current and past engagements. Below is a list of the best cities to work in for AML professionals based on three factors: 

  • Number of available contract positions in AML and Fraud
  • Total compensation
  • Projected demand for AML/Financial Crimes professionals in the future

Top 7 Cities for Financial Crime/AML Consultants

1.    New York, New York

New York City is currently, and will continue to be, the best place to be for project-based engagements and permanent, full time AML / Fraud work. Many banks and Financial Services companies’ homes are based in NYC and require a large amount of resources to have a successful Financial Crimes program/regulatory driven engagement. 

New York also comes with risks. NYC is one of the most expensive cities to live in along with housing the most AML Professionals in the country.  This increases competition which pushes individuals to stay on top of the current and upcoming regulatory environment trends; ensuring professionals are constantly networking and sharing information. NYC engagements also rarely pay for expenses and bring talent from out of state due to the high number of professionals available outside of the city. 

On the other-hand, it is one of the best cities to pick up out-of-state engagements. Due to the varied experience that can be gained in NYC, and the networks available, it is easy to build a resume of engagements that meet the demands/expectations Hiring Managers might have.  

2.    Los Angeles, California

LA has been one of the best hubs for AML Contract work over the past two years and continues to be a location that has large needs for AML Professionals.  However, many of the larger engagements that are willing to pay for expenses have started to wind down. Before you write LA off, there has been a consistent need for AML consultants within Transaction Monitoring and Investigations in recent years.  LA is having much success growing their AML professional network and being a desired location for many consultants.  LA is known for its large amount of APAC-based banks which have had a large focus on increasing staff due to regulatory suggestions and fines that have been imposes.  There is also a much greater chance in LA of going perm as a result of a short term engagement than most cities.

3.    Chicago, Illinois / Midwest Cities

Chicago and the other Midwest cities are starting to see much more of an up-tick.  Chicago and the Midwest have the most engagements and are willing to pay for expenses for talent that is out of state as these cities are going to see very high demand in the next upcoming months/years.  Due to the low cost of living and real estate, banks are trying harder and harder to insource their Financial Crimes departments/professionals to these locations.

Most domestic financial services companies reside in these cities with an increasing number of banks being acquired by Canada-based companies.  With expenses included, pay is generally commensurate with most other cities but does vary depending on size and demand at each bank.  There are also opportunities to stay and move permanently with most of the banks if the Midwest is your speed. 

4.    Denver, Colorado

We have experienced growth in staffing needs for AML/Financial Crimes professionals in the Denver area and expect higher demand in the upcoming months/years. The combination of its explosive growth, reasonable cost of living, and commensurate pay, look for Denver to have a much larger need for AML professionals in the near future.  There have been multiple projects that have just begun in the past six months with expectations for continued growth.  You will find a variety of Financial Services institutions in the Rocky Mountains including MSBs, retail, and commercial banks.

5.    San Francisco, California

Everyone knows San Fran for its growing technology presence and start-ups. This growth has lead to the increase in demand for AML professionals. In this city tech-focus is a must. An inability to apply technical and analytic thinking to the engagements puts most candidates a few steps behind.  We see a consistent need for talented professionals in San Fran along with a  forecast for a large amount of work coming from many of the emerging payment companies who are still building and developing their FinCrime programs. 

6.    Miami, Florida

There has been a large number of engagements in Miami and the Florida area for several years, and will be for several years to come.  With Miami being the largest center of LatAm Banks, AML risk stays high and regulatory agencies have seen only increased scrutiny over the years.  Miami is one of the best cities for AML professionals who are bi-lingual in Spanish and English.  There is a large amount of local AML professionals which can make it difficult to get expenses paid, but working six months in FL may be worth paying for your own expenses.

7.    Dallas, Texas

As everything is big in Texas, so is AML.  Dallas being one of the main hubs for banking in the Southwest, there are consistent projects and engagements for both out and in-state candidates. In addition, Texas has enticing tax structures and laws, which will bring in more banks and financial intuitions (think Comerica and Moneygram). The more banks there, the more financial crimes risk, and the more opportunities for contract engagements and permanent roles. 

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