Dear CEO: A letter from the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority)

Sanjay Chandwani our consultant managing the role

Not something someone wants to see coming from the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority), however, this is the letter that went out to the CEOs of banking institutions in the UK recently.

In essence, whilst it wasn’t targeting specific banks, it was more of a general piece to inform banks that the PRA are investing pretty heavily on technology, meaning that they plan to make it easier to look at data at a more granular level. In the future this could mean that they rely less on submissions and more on their own teams to analyse and interpret the true status of the banks’ liquidity and capital positions.

Some organisations took this with a pinch of salt, while others have used it as a catalyst to recruit – and we’ve definitely seen an increase in recruitment within regulatory reporting. Organisations are pulling the trigger to recruit as a way to safeguard themselves against potential PRA action, particularly if the business is understaffed, or could do with an extra experienced head to ensure there are adequate controls and processes in place.

Let’s take a look back to 2019?

The last couple of years saw the market tighten, in particular to lower remuneration packages being offered to candidates compared to 2015 and 2016. Since the introduction of CoRep, the only other change was PRA110, but rather than paying over-the-odds salaries for specialists, the implementation was largely done taken in house.

At the start of the year we saw an over-supply of contractors in the market, the majority working in narrow roles, for example only on RWA. With organisations looking for accountants that could complete the full suite of returns, contractors subsequently found themselves out of the market for a while, being asked to lower their rates, and clients not proceeding and wanting to hold out. Those in permanent roles were in a better position, however in some cases there wasn’t enough of a salary increase to warrant a move, creating a situation where roles were being advertised for a long time, and clients were then forced to compromise on what they sought from the beginning. 

What should your recruitment strategy be for 2020?

In the summer of 2018 we predicted that regulatory accountants with skills like VBA and SQL (and now Python) would become even more valuable in future for both organisations and talent. Even though the RegTech market is dominated by the likes of Vermeg (formerly Lombard Risk), Axiom, Wolters Kluwer and K-Helix, a lot of organisations we work with are still heavily reliant on Excel and producing these returns manually. We feel our predictions are coming true, with regulatory accountants who have excellent working knowledge of SQL/VBA/Python will soon find themselves in a stronger position (irrespective of their qualifications), as they are able to automate and streamline the whole process for producing and submitting regulatory returns.

Where the PRA will apply pressure on banks to reduce their reliance on Excel, bringing in these candidates can better bridge the gap between the RegTech products and their in-house systems.  They can potentially safeguard the Bank from being a served S.166. We also cannot ignore the value of recruiting newly qualified ACAs from the Top 6 firms, as they understand the importance of controls and processes, and we know that’s what the PRA will also look at.

Candidates with the full breadth of experience producing and submitting the full suite of CoRep returns are already in short supply, so the question is, do you continue to hang around for that perfect candidate to do a BAU role or do you accept that the landscape is changing and you’ll need to start future-proofing yourselves from potential PRA action?

For more about our current roles, visit our jobs page.
27/02/20
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