Staff at the Financial Conduct Authority have criticized the regulator’s leadership in an internal survey.
Sixty percent said they had no confidence in the regulator’s executive committee, according to the staff survey seen by Financial News, up 36% from last year.
59% said the executive committee did not communicate effectively with employees and 31% said management did not make their expectations clear. Only 39% thought management “genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions” and 40% said management did not have a clear vision of where the organization was going.
The staff survey had more than 2,700 responses, or 77% of FCA’s workforce, of which around a third disagreed with the statements that “management delivers on its promises”, “behaves in accordance with our values” and “is honest and ethical in its business practices.”
The results come amid a review of pay and benefits at the regulator that has angered staff, led to the first strike in the markets regulator’s history and a failed bid to win union recognition.
The reforms center around a new rating system that links staff pay rises to performance ratings, abandoning the previous system where discretionary bonuses went to the vast majority of the FCA’s roughly 4,000 employees. Benefits such as private health insurance and pension rights have also undergone minor changes.
Chief executive Nikhil Rathi has embarked on a “transformation” plan at the regulator to make it more nimble and decisive by investing in new areas such as technology and data.
A senior FCA staff member told FN: “It’s clearly disappointing, but it’s important to see it in the context of our transition. Any organization going through a transition is to expect friction in that process. That’s what we’re seeing..
“With any transformation program you’re fundamentally questioning how things are done, questioning people’s day-to-day work, whether it’s being done in the most efficient way.”
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The staff member acknowledged this internal communication, for example about the regulator three-year strategy established in April, had fallen short. But they added that the review of how staff were paid had also been a factor in the poor results.
Almost half of the staff who took part in the survey disagreed with the statement that “people here are paid fairly for the work they do” and 44% rated the statement unfavorably with the statement “here we have special and unique advantages”.
“Salary and qualification are certainly part of that transformation,” the senior staffer said. “Generally, people can understand it, but that doesn’t mean they have to like it. Some of the conversations with the union will also have been leaked.”
The first set of performance ratings under the new system took place in February.
“When you have a performance rating, you’re going to have people with a problem. As always, there are some people who have appealed … sometimes grades are changed on appeal,” senior staff said of whether the employees were happy with how they had been. qualified
The pay changes began appearing in pay packages on April 22 and the new benefits package came into force on June 1, 2022. Senior staff said the decision not to grant union recognition “does not that was the end of the discussion,” though as the regulator launched a new series of feedback sessions it calls an “employee voice” exercise.
This has included roping in advisers so there are “no line management restrictions on what can be said” and looking at the make-up of the FCA’s staff advisory committee and how it represents employees at the watchdog. Senior staff say that by September the FCA will have formed an action plan to deal with the issues raised in the staff survey, identifying three key areas it wants to focus on.
Senior staff pointed to a number of factors that were improving morale, however, including a recent survey on the future of hybrid work to which 83% of staff responded. Office staff will be required a minimum of 40% of the time, and the senior management team will be expected to be at least 50%, with the executive committee likely to be involved more frequently.
“People are very happy to have made a decision and we’ve been very clear about that,” they said. “The passion people feel for FCA is truly impressive.”
The annual staff survey is usually conducted at the beginning of each year. However, the FCA decided to delay the 2022 survey so that it could take account of the pay changes that took place later in the year.
Unite had previously raised concerns that minority groups would be weighted incorrectly in performance appraisals and therefore receive lower pay rises under the new deal.
An evaluation published by the FCA on 21 July showed that the overall average pay rise since the reforms is 6.8% for men and 7.4% for women.
Wages for black staff increased by an average of 8.5%, for Asian staff by 8.2% and among staff of mixed or multiple ethnic groups by 7.7%.
To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email Justin Cash