Six figure pay at the FSA?

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The FSA's latest business plan, makes it look like it's suddenly become a place where one can make some decent cash.

Money put aside for staff costs has risen nearly 25% to 306.4m and the regulator is introducing a new 'reward strategy' to incentivise and attract banking types.

The FSA plans to increase headcount to 3,000, implying that the average regulatory person might be earning 100k, and that some might be earning substantially more than that. It's also paying 'market rate bonuses bonuses of 12.5-15% of salary totalling an alleged 33m, and investing 10m in increasing the salaries of people who are currently underpaid.

Sadly, the notion that the FSA pays lots of people 100k and some a lot more looks misguided. The FSA's staff budget also includes the unspecified costs of training, travel and compensating for a pension deficit. Recruiters and former employees say its generosity is increasing, but that it's not quite as generous as all that.

Richard Aldridge, head of compliance hiring at recruiter Robert Walters, puts the FSA's bid price below what its business plan might imply. He says the regulator's currently offering 40-60k salaries for forensic investigators, who typically have three to five years' experience in banking.

Ian Mason, a former FSA official turned lawyer, says no one at the FSA will be earning seven figures and that most people won't be earning six figures either.

However, some people seem to be doing quite well working for the regulator. The FSA's most recent annual report, shows Sir Callum McCarthy earned a total of 480k last year and that the best paid executive director, Clive Briault, earned 883k. Executive directors received bonus equivalent to up to 30% of their salaries.

Nevertheless, anyone trying to join in the current environment should really be doing so with an eye for the long term benefits rather than the immediate monetary rewards. With a major regulatory overhaul on the way, a few years in the company of Sir Callum will increase the popularity of anyone intending to go back to banking once a semblance of normality returns.