independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Regulator lacking top-level graduates

There's a drive to increase 'intellectual firepower' as figures reveal a critical lack of PhD-level staff, writes John Drennan

the Tough-talking Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield has taken steps to address an alleged "critical absence of intellectual firepower within his staff'' as he attempts to re-impose some form of order on Ireland's delinquent financial institutions.

The claim was made by Fine Gael's finance spokesman Richard Bruton in the wake of the admission that prior to a recruitment drive in March of this year no graduates with a PhD qualification in Finance were employed by the Regulators Office.

Responding to a Dail question by Mr Bruton, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan noted that 81 per cent of the office's 533 staff had obtained third-level qualifications.

However, in a pattern that is all too familiar in a public sector where up to recently the Department of Finance had no qualified economics PhDs, there was a critical absence of top-level graduates in the office.

The figures supplied by the Department of Finance reveal that two-fifths of degrees were to primary or Master's degree level, a further fifth had professional accounting, legal or actuarial qualifications, while a further 16 per cent had certificates and diplomas.

However, economic experts all agree that when dealing with top-level finance, PhD graduates are at a distinct advantage.

Astonishingly the Department of Finance also admitted that even as it attempted to deal with the meltdown of a banking system there were 160 vacancies in the Regulators Office.

The vast majority of staff in the Financial Regulator's Office were employed at clerical and middle management jobs. In practice this meant that just over 40 staff had any control over Ireland's profligate bankers.

Since March 47 new staff members have been recruited, PhDs among them.

Mr Lenihan also noted that a further 80 technical positions within the office have been advertised.

But speaking to the Sunday Independent Mr Bruton warned that this was the equivalent of "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted".

Sunday Independent

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