When 1,000 new banking jobs isn't considered enough

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Working for a financial regulator is supposedly, if not a cushy option, a vocation where the stresses and strains placed upon those working in the cut-throat banking sector are eased somewhat. Try telling that to employees of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The ECB is in the midst of a challenging recruitment spree that will see 1,000 new employees join the bank in 2014 as it creates a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). Of these 770 will focus on banking supervision and 230 will be in support functions.

This, suggests an open letter from ECB staff representatives, is not enough to alleviate the workload of those already employed at the regulator, who are suffering increased levels of stress at the organisation. “Workload at the ECB is structurally high but despite continuously increasing work pressure, due to more and more tasks and responsibilities, the Governing Council has repeatedly refused to significantly increase the headcount at the ECB (except for the SSM),” said the letter.

Instead of hiring externally, the ECB relies on “excessive” use of alternative forms of employment – namely bringing in consultants, temporary agency staff and people on short-term contracts. “If the current practice is continued, this policy may soon make the persons working with an ECB permanent contract the minority of the workforce,” said the letter.

Much of the discord centres upon the ECB’s use of three-year time-limited contracts, meaning that staff have to wait before being offered indefinite employment. However, sources suggest that 98% of those employed on such contracts are eventually offered full-time roles.

The ECB faces the same problem as regulators across the world – hiring people with risk and compliance expertise in a market for talent that is already tight and where the private sector can offer better pay. The Bank of England is hiring more staff to deal with an anticipated uptick in new banking licences and is also building its risk team extensive.

Analysts at the ECB, which is among the lowest level, can expect €55-83k, which rises to €65-100k for ‘expert’ positions and €97-133k for principals. The Bank of England offers starting salaries of between £17.1-24.5k, which rises to £37.3-£70k at the mid-level and £68-121k at the senior end. Senior risk managers in the UK can earn £80-140k in investment banking, according to figures from Robert Walters, and this is before bonus payments.

Nonetheless, the ECB doesn’t appear to be having difficulty attracting interest – it received 1,700 applications for 90 middle management roles released this year.

The ECB said that it was committed to “a prudent management of its salary bill” including setting up the SSM in a “cost-efficient manner”.

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