FCA struggling to lure top talent due to lacklustre pay, former official claims
Reforms to the City watchdog have not done enough to boost employees’ pay packets and it is struggling to recruit top calibre staff as a result, a former official has claimed.
Speaking with the Following the Rules podcast, Sasi-Kanth Mallella, a former technical specialist in the criminal prosecution team at the Financial Conduct Authority, claimed the transformation programme pushed through by chief Nikhil Rathi had lifted salaries at the lower level but left more senior staff underpaid.
The comments come after the regulator has been rocked by staff discontent this year and faced the first strikes in its history, with around 240 of the FCA’s 4000 staff downing tools in May over changes to pay and perks.
Mallella, who now works at consulting firm Ankura, said the overhaul by Rathi had had a “mixed impact”, and the regulator’s ability to tempt in staff from its traditional talent pools in the banking and legal sectors was constrained by a lack of funds.
“You are not going to recruit those sorts of people by and large with the amount of money that they’re currently offering to employees,” he said.
“So if you want people to join from industry or private practice law or accountancy, I’m not sure that the current wage scales are going to enable them to.”
Mallella’s comments underscore the recruitment challenges facing the watchdog, which saw headcount slide in the first half of the year despite a major hiring push.
In its annual report in July, Rathi said the organisation had hired nearly 500 people in 2022 and was aiming to boost the workforce by a further 500. However, headcount figures published in the report showed that total staff numbers fell to 4,027, down from 4,194 earlier in the year.
The FCA told City A.M. today it was pushing ahead with a hiring drive this year however and was bringing in a range of fresh talent.
“We continue to attract top talent at all levels of the organisation with a range of skills and professional backgrounds, and by the end of this year we will have recruited around 1,000 new colleagues,” the spokesperson said.
The watchdog has brought in a number of senior hires from the private sector in recent months, including its director of authorisation Dominic Cashman from TC ICAP, Camille Blackburn as Director of Wholesale Buy-Side from Legal & General Investment Management, and senior advisor Mel Gunewardena – a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs.