By Simon Miller

The vast majority of UK financial services chief finance officers (CFOs) and chief operating officers (COOs) believe that a harmonised regulatory environment in the European Union is vital for their businesses.

With companies facing a barrage of different financial regulations - including anti-money laundering (AML), anti-corruption requirements, privacy regulations and Basel III - 93% of CFOs and COOs said harmonisation across the EU was important for the operational well-being of their work.

Ninety-two per cent believe a single environment is important across eurozone countries, while 88% think it is important globally, finds new research from Robert Half Financial Services.

When asked which global regulation has had the most significant impact on their business over the past six months, UK finance professionals cited AML, disclosure or reporting requirements and privacy requirements as their top three areas.

The need to meet demand for so many areas of regulatory change is driving demand for senior finance professionals with the right skills to ensure their organisations are compliant. This has led to a rise in compliance budgets for more than half (53%) of UK businesses over pre-2008 budgets, with a further 37% reporting that they have maintained the same expenditure.

Neil Owen, Global Practice director, Robert Half Financial Services said the company had noticed a significant increase in demand from organisations to bring the right talent on board to help them stay ahead of the regulation tsunami with some companies bringing on permanent senior professionals while others were turning to seasoned project regulatory specialists with the requisite knowledge and experience to oversee key initiatives.

"It’s not surprising that so many financial executives believe it is important to harmonise all of these areas of regulatory compliance, which has become such a huge element of their day-to-day role and that is driving up costs for the majority of businesses,” he added.

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