Risk managers, whose calculations determine creditworthiness, are hot commodities on the hiring scene, a headhunter's survey says.

A poll of 84 risk executives by Allard Associates Inc. found that 34% were earning more than $100,000 and the average time between promotions among all people surveyed was 18 months.

Susan Allard, president of the San Francisco-based recruitment firm, said the mantra of cost cutting seems to have driven up demand for risk managers at banks and credit bureaus. Some banks, she said, are hiring risk professionals in batches to create new analytical groups.

"It's really very difficult to find qualified risk professionals," Ms. Allard said. "There isn't enough supply, and the market is so competitive that people change jobs often."

Ms. Allard described risk management as a "fast-track" career in which "you can move very quickly."

In the survey, 85% of risk managers said they would change jobs for a higher salary. Ninety-two percent said they were enrolled in a bonus plan of stock or cash, and about 70% said higher bonuses or more stock might prompt them to switch companies.

The only jobs harder to fill than risk management positions? Smart card technologists, Ms. Allard said.

"You read these job descriptions and see the banks want someone with seven years of experience," she said. "Well, almost nobody's got seven years of experience. I saw one candidate with one-and-a-half years of experience, and we agreed that was a lot."

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