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Regulators go after grads

Want a job in financial services? How about working for the regulators? From the UK to the US, and France to Germany, the financial services police are looking for junior staff.

The times have never been busier for financial services regulators. After scandals like Enron, Parmalat, market timing, and Citigroup's disputed Eurobond trade, they have more than enough to keep them busy. No surprises then that many have ramped up schemes to attract college graduates.

The UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) plans to hire around 60 graduates in 2005, up from 46 in 2004. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offered 50 internships to business, finance and economics majors for the first time in 2004; it plans to take on 25 college graduates permanently next year as a result.

The FSA and SEC are not the only ones reaching out to junior staff. Since it was formed in 2002, Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin), the German regulator has hired around 100 additional staff, many of them juniors. It also takes on around 30 Auszubildende (apprentices) every year.

L'Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the French regulator, hires around 30 interns each year for six-month periods. Each year, it takes on around five junior employees full time.

Homegrown at the FSA

Umesh Damania, head of graduate recruitment at the FSA, says the regulator aims to train around 10% of its staff in-house on the graduate recruitment scheme, up from 5.5% currently.

The FSA is looking for students from any degree discipline, says Damania, as long as they have a 2.i or above and three 'B' grades (24 UCAS) points at A level. Pay is reasonable, with starting packages of 26,500 (€34,450 / $50,030), plus a one-off cost of living allowance of 1,000 to help new recruits settle in London. According to recruiters, this is comparable to starting salaries for compliance specialists in investment banks.

The FSA's training programme lasts two and a half years and includes two rotations around different areas of the business and a secondment in industry. When it's over, a surprising number of trainees stick around. 'Since we started the programme in 1999 we've only lost 22 people,' boasts Damania.

He says the final secondment can act as a reality check that puts people off leaving for higher salaries in banking: 'We offer a better quality of life. Most people arrive at 8.45am and leave around 5pm. In essence, this is a nine to five job, which is very rare in financial services.'

SEC: sought after

The US SEC has no problems attracting staff to its training programmes. In 2004 there were around 700 applicants for 50 places, says Terri Ellison, head of recruitment at the regulator. Most had a G.P.A. of 3.5 or above.

Students were applying for the new Summer Honours Business Programme, targeted at MBA students and final year honours students or first year graduates from accounting, finance or business backgrounds. 'We wanted to see if we could attract enough people of the right quality,' says Ellison. 'We were very impressed with the calibre of people that applied.'

The top 25 students on the summer programme have been offered places on the SEC's new two-year training programme, starting June 2005 in Washington DC. Trainees will be paid around $60,000 annually, says Ellison.

AMF and BaFin

Claire Castanet, head of recruitment at AMF, says the French regulator takes on only five junior trainees each year. They typically have a masters degree (BAC 5) in law, finance, financial markets, or accounting. French trainees are among the worst paid: they earn just €30,000.

Applicants to German regulator BaFin typically come from a law, economics, or mathematics background, says spokesman Benjamin Fischer. As with the SEC in the US, he says working for the regulator is by no means the easy option: 'The level set for people who apply here is quite high: a lot more people apply for jobs than get them.'

Links for more information:

FSA Careers:

SEC Careers:



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