How easy is it to get into the FSA?

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Way, way back in March, stung by criticism of its handling of Northern Rock, the FSA declared its intention to up its intake of former bankers, including quant types to work on its frontline supervision teams, focusing "on the complex models used by banks to gauge financial risk" (FT).

Its timing was impeccable. With thousands of banking employees subsequently let go and Lehman's entire risk, compliance and trading teams on the market, the FSA must now be spoilt for choice.

A spokeswoman for the regulator confirmed that it's still hiring, but declined to comment on whether it's also being swamped with more applications than it can possibly handle.

One ex-structurer, who interviewed there unsuccessfully, says they're definitely fussy. "I was quite surprised I didn't get the job," he confides. "The feedback I got was that I fell down on evidence of using teamwork or solving technical problems. I guess they want people who tick all their boxes rather than understand the market."

Richard Aldridge, head of compliance recruitment at Robert Walters, hires into the FSA. He confirms they're highly selective: "They've started doing assessment days and are churning through the people that want to work there."

The good news is that Aldridge says the FSA is keen to talk to people from the business side, rather than simply compliance types.

The bad news is that it may not go much further than that. "Interviewing with them was more about information gathering than anything else," says the ex-banker. "They kept asking where I thought the next hole was going to be. They seem to have been given a blank piece of paper when it comes to hiring, but I'm not sure they know how to fill it."