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

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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.

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