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UK financial watchdog bulks up amid staff discontent over pay changes

© Reuters.

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Monday it will hire 200 people to staff an existing office in Edinburgh and a new base in Leeds as part of a revamp to become a more effective watchdog after facing some discontent among staff.

The FCA is facing unease among staff at its London head office over changes to pay by scrapping bonuses, leaving it facing potential industrial action for the first time.

Labour union Unite, which is seeking to represent the agency’s employees, has accused the FCA of turning the watchdog into a “bargain basement” regulator, resulting in staff quitting “in droves”, a description rejected by the watchdog.

The watchdog, which employs around 4,000 staff, needs to fill hundreds of posts which became vacant after staff left at a time of rocketing financial scams online, and demands on resources from adapting to markets to Brexit and dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on consumers and the financial sector.

“The roles in Leeds and Edinburgh will be new roles or filling vacancies as they are arise and will not involve a restructuring of positions out of London,” the FCA said in a statement.

The FCA has recently recruited 95 people to reinforce its authorisations unit which faces a backlog of applications from firms for licences, it said.

It will double its headcount in Edinburgh, a major asset management centre, to around 200 and increase recruitment in technology to become what CEO Nikhil Rathi has described as a nimbler, data-driven watchdog which is willing to bite.

“This is an important step in our transformation which will ensure we are a regulator that better represents the people we serve,” Rathi said on Monday.

The FCA, which also has a small presence in Cardiff and Belfast, said staff turnover is around 13%, in line with pre-pandemic levels.

The watchdog has been consulting staff on the new pay structure with the outcome due in March.

UK financial watchdog bulks up amid staff discontent over pay changes

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