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FSA interviews may be the scariest part of getting a new job

In line with its promise to interview more applicants for posts of ‘significant influence’ at ‘high impact’ firms, the FSA has begun grilling senior people prior to granting them the authority to work in the UK.

We understand that the interviews are frightening events in which the regulator does its best to live up to its new intention of being scary.

“The interviews are usually carried out by a grey panther, or former industry practitioner” says Simon Morris, partner and regulatory expert at CMS Cameron McKenna. “They are concerned to find out that you understand about the firm you plan to work for, about the FSA’s concerns about your sector, and about your plans for the future development of the firm.”

Morris says the FSA only interviews board level people, but we understand the practice is a little more widespread than this. “Heads of local business areas have been sweating about it,” says a source.

In the past, the FSA required financial services professionals it wasn’t already familiar with to fill in a lengthy form before they took a job in the UK, but not to attend an interview. Insiders say it was relatively lenient towards people already approved by overseas regulators like the SEC.

This is no longer so: even SEC-approved senior managers are now grilled before they are permitted to work in the City. If the FSA proves unduly nasty, banks in London could be dissuaded from bringing in senior managers from overseas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Comments (8)

  1. And rightly so given SEC proved about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

  2. The CSFI has been angling for this, since before things went belly up.

    The trick will be to get scary people into the FSA, since for this to work they need to hire people who are quite unlike themselves both in personality and skill set.
    Though as a headhunter, I see this as a quite amazingly ambitious goal…
    Finance is a very diverse set of activities, you’d need (I guess) a portfolio of 2-300 different people to do this properly. Like people, banks manage to get themselves killed in so many different ways.
    To do this properly one would need to cover settlements, dozens of types of risk, modelling, and IT. Market risk in commodities is wholly different to fixed income or equity derivatives. When you multiply the risk factors by the number of distinct markets you end up with a need for many people.
    Since the FSA won’t hire 200 part time people, we will instead get people who are “near” the business area in question. Inevitably that will mean they hassle good people whose work they cannot understand, and miss golf players who are far out of their depth.

    Dominic Connor, Headhunter Reply
  3. If the FSA are so scary why then have Andy Hornby, Fred Goodwin et al not been given a complete industry ban under FSMA 2000, Section 56?

  4. Mr. Buffett said. Regarding complex calculations used to value purchases, he said: “If you need to use a computer or a calculator to make the calculation, you shouldn’t buy it.”

  5. the same guy who writes 35bln notional worth of ultra long , unpriceable put options

  6. The rule by committee approach of the FSA which has proved so fallible is not going to be swept away. I can’t see too much changing. Over the past decade the regulator has excelled at employing people who don’t rock the boat and still don’t seem to want them. Compliant people are very different from people who enforce compliance.

  7. Excellent, are they going to employ the same senior execs that screwed up to check whether the new senior execs are of the right sort………seems a bit of a flaw here….

  8. Interesting to hear a headhunter (whose job role clearly requires no skill apart from sales ability) give his careful analysis of the difficulties involved in finding an *exact* match for a given job role. The phrase “no s$$t sherlock” springs to mind.

    Perhaps this is why we find the same tired group of senior executives continually doing the rounds at top companies. Perhaps if headhunters stopped trying to find the “right people” and instead found “good people”, boardrooms across the country wouldn’t be filled with contemptible morons like Fred Goodwin. It’s always Senior Management who are the problem, and headhunters played a key role in continuing the reign of the incumbent, incestuous pool of incompetents…plus ca change…

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