The UK’s financial services watchdog had hired private law firms to help process job applications and dished out almost £1m on headhunters this year, as it rushes to fill an abnormally large vacancy pool following a series of departures.
While vacancy levels at the Financial Conduct Authority normally run at around 300, they currently stand at around 500 – an eighth of the entire workforce – a person familiar with the matter told the Financial Times, who first reported the news.
Nikhil Rathi, the watchdog’s chief executive, only last week defended the transformation he is planning for the regulator in front of a a Treasury select committee.
This transformation involves changes to the FCA’s working practices and pay structures – an overhaul that has led staff to contact trade union Unite, which aims to represent them.
Unite has said staff want to be represented by an independent trade union, and alleges that the new pay proposals will leave three out of four workers facing pay cuts of 10 per cent.
It is understood that lower-paid workers at the FCA can expect to see an increase in base pay, although bonuses are set to be scrapped, leading to overall cuts in pay.
As vacancies mount, the organisation has been posting adverts for consultant contracts to plug the gaps, such as a recent contract for lawyers to help with tasks such as financial services firms’ “change of control” applications for when their ownership swaps.