The British finance regulator has blocked only 30 applications out of a potential 227,000 to the sector’s most risk-sensitive jobs since the banking crisis began six years ago.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rejected, on average, one application for every 7,566 made in the banking, insurance and other financial sectors as part of its "approved persons" regime in the months between April 2007 and the end of the year 2012.
Regulators were expected to try to raise professional standards by increasing scrutiny on candidates applying for key roles within the sector to ensure they did indeed have the necessary skills to carry out the jobs. It is apparent, though, that rejections from the FCA have been largely negligible.
Corporate Governance Policy Adviser at the National Association of Pension Funds Will Pomroy said that he hoped the lower number of failed applications represented an increased robustness in staff competence and integrity:
"Investors expect the board to take responsibility – and be accountable – for setting the culture from the top and ensuring it filters down throughout the workforce. They would not want to be relying solely on the assessments of the regulator for each individual employed in a controlled function – of which there a large number."
Whilst the FCA does not break down the rejections yearly, they do give exact figures for applications and withdrawals made. The most recent full-year numbers show that withdrawals in 2012 came in at just 597 compared to April 2009, which saw a peak of 1,850. From these statistics, the decrease is obvious.
Of course we should take Mr Pomroy's assurances at face value because 30 blocks in five years probably represents a huge workload in real terms and, besides, things have been going really well in the financial sector. People love bankers.