MATTHEW ELDERFIELD, the new head of financial regulation, is understood to be pushing for the watchdog to be given the green light to hire up to an additional 300 staff as part of his overhaul of the tarnished system.
The Financial Regulator, which is being absorbed back into the Central Bank after an almost seven-year separation, currently has a headcount of about 377.
Well-placed industry sources said that Mr Elderfield, who officially took up office last month, is also looking for the financial sector to be levied for 100pc of the cost of a more probing regulatory regime.
They said that such a move could make it less attractive for international financial groups to set up a presence in the IFSC at a time when Dublin is already slipping down the global ranking of financial hubs.
Traditionally, the cost had been divided equally between financial institutions and the State. However, state-guaranteed institutions have borne the full cost of much more onerous regulation since the domestic banking system teetered on the brink of collapse in September 2008.
The Financial Regulator, whose total annual budget currently stands at over €60m, declined to comment other than to say that it is “currently finalising its strategy and no decisions have yet been made on resources and funding.”
It highlighted, however, that the Finance Minister Brian Lenihan accepted that a significant increase in staff – with skills, experience and marketbased expertise – was required when he announced plans last June to bring the watchdog back under the roof of the Central Bank.
“The 2010 budget for the Central Bank and Financial Regulator has not been finalised yet, but the process is under way,” it said. Mr Elderfield currently has a staff of about 377 people after predecessor Pat Neary hired an additional 20 supervisors to drill deep into the operation of the domestic banks a month after the state guarantee was brought in.
Last summer, the authority moved to hire an additional 20 people to focus on international banks operating in this country. Still, it has also lost employees over the past 18 months as a result of retirements and transfers to the Central Bank.
Both hiring rounds attracted hundreds of applications from the private sector as a result of the scarcity of banking jobs. The sector has seen in excess of 6,000 jobs lost in little over a year as a result of redundancies and natural attrition.
The regulator has advertised a number of senior positions recently and these are expected to be filled shortly. But Mr Elderfield’s hopes of engaging on a massive hiring spree must first be approved by the boards of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator, which were recently combined on an interim basis.