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The bank that has to hire 1,000 people in only 12 months

The European Central Bank has to hire a lot of people – and fast. Following the EU’s decision to create a Single Supervisory Mechanism for the 130 largest banks in the Eurozone, the ECB has been tasked with raising its headcount by an additional 1,000 people in just 12 months, all based in Frankfurt. We spoke to Caroline Willeke who is responsible for filling these roles.

You want to hire 1,000 people. What are the next immediate steps?

We are hiring 770 people in banking supervision and 230 for support services like statistics, legal, IT and HR. All of the jobs will be published on our website – and we will place some ads, too. The application period for the top ten management positions has already expired, and now we’re turning our attention to middle management roles. These positions are particularly important because some of them will be the coordinators of the joint supervisory teams. We really need them to prepare a lot of things. We will start to advertise  specialist roles at the beginning of next year. We have already advertised a few supporting roles.

So, the real task starts at the beginning of 2014?

Actually, we are already looking for people and already have quite a few on board. We currently have 80 specialists from other central banks on a temporary basis who are helping prepare the “health checks” which we will conduct in the next 12 months before we take over as supervisor. And we will shortly add 30 auditors because this work can’t be delayed.

Will these 110 people be part of the SSM?

They have to apply for the permanent roles, too. All specialists get three-year contracts and managers are offered five-year contracts. After that we will decide whether to move them to permanent contracts.

Do you only hire from other central banks? Or are other financial professionals and consultants considered?

We intend to have a mixture of backgrounds. We have already conducted road shows at national supervisors  to inform  their employees about the jobs we are offering. But we are also looking for people who have held risk management roles within a bank, for example, or have experiences with bank balance sheets  within the large auditing organisations.

Risk management, compliance and regulatory staff have been in demand for years now. How can you convince people to start at the ECB rather than going to work for one of the large banks?

It is very attractive  to build up a new banking supervisor – it’s a challenging task. You meet highly skilled professionals from all over Europe. People appreciate that a lot. I also think that the overall compensation packages including  the European School or a Kindergarten can compete with the private sector.

Do you expect any difficulties in convincing people to move from Madrid, London, Rome or Paris to Frankfurt? Germany is not an English speaking country.

In my experience, the response has been good. We receive a lot of applications from the entire European Union. In Frankfurt,  it is not a big issue if you do not speak German. I know a lot of colleagues who are not fluent in German and they feel pretty comfortable in Frankfurt. It is a very international and liberal place where many people speak English.

Some people consider Frankfurt rather small compared to Madrid or Rome. But once they arrive, they realise that Frankfurt offers a better cultural program than many bigger cities.

Which language skills do you expect?

The working language of the ECB is English. We expect people to speak at least another European language. This could only be an issue for native English speakers. The application needs to be in English.

Which nationalities can apply for a job at the ECB?

You need a European Union passport.

What do you expect in terms of education and experience?

For specialist roles we generally expect a Masters degree or a Bachelors degree with additional four years’ experience.

Do graduates have a chance?

Because of the large number of employees we intend to hire I would not entirely exclude people with a relatively little experience. In the early days of the ECB we also tried to hire more experienced staff first, and I’d envisage the same with the initial SSM roles. We already run a graduate scheme at the ECB and in the future this scheme could certainly fill vacancies in the Single Supervisory Mechanism, too.

Are you sure you can  hire 1,000 qualified people in only 12 months?

We will not make  any compromises in terms of the candidates’ qualifications just to hire enough people on time. We in the HR team are, however, fully committed to hire enough people within a year and we are very optimistic that this will work. Up to now we are on schedule. And once the first managers arrive they will do everything they can to fill the vacancies in their teams.

AUTHORFlorian Hamann German & Swiss Editor

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