City watchdog reveals tech recruitment woes

Financial Conduct Authority boss Nikhil Rathi told MPs plans to open a Leeds office would help it attract IT specialists.

Holly Williams
Wednesday 08 December 2021 16:13

Britain’s City watchdog has become the latest victim of the growing recruitment crisis in the UK as it revealed struggles to hire in-demand technology specialists.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief executive Nikhil Rathi told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee that it was having to “manage the challenges” of hiring, particularly for data and technology roles.

Mr Rathi said the “hot” jobs market and moves by big technology firms to create roles in the UK was creating a very competitive recruitment market.

He said: “When you think about where we were a year ago and where we thought the economy was going to be like, it was a very different outlook, but actually the jobs market is very vibrant and there’s a lot of movement, particularly in data and technology where there’s a huge demand for skills.

“We’re no different to any other significant employer in having to manage those challenges.”

... the jobs market is very vibrant and there's a lot of movement, particularly in data and technology where there's a huge demand for skills

Nikhil Rathi

He added the group’s plans to possibly open a Leeds office, which were first revealed in its 2021-22 business plan published in the summer, would help ease the tech recruitment troubles, as it could tap into the “really outstanding talent pools” from the city’s universities.

“And also visibly become a much more national regulator than we have historically been in the past,” he said.

The regulator said in July it was exploring the option of a Leeds office, with at least 100 staff based there to begin with.

It currently has offices in London and Edinburgh, while it is also looking to establish a presence in Belfast and Cardiff for the first time by the end of the year.

Mr Rathi assured MPs on the cross-party Commons committee that it had not seen the number of staff leaving the FCA reach typical levels seen before the pandemic.

But the comments come after Unite recently said staff at the FCA had launched a formal petition for union recognition following months of growing disenchantment with Mr Rathi’s overhaul and plans for pay changes.

Unite said staff want to be represented by an independent trade union after new pay proposals will leave three out of four workers facing pay cuts of 10%, it is claimed.

It is understood that lower-paid workers at the FCA can expect to see an increase in base pay, although bonuses are set to be scrapped, leading to overall cuts in pay.

Mr Rathi told the Treasury select committee that before the pandemic, 70% to 90% of staff received performance-related bonuses.

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