Regulator approves 99.9% of workers since financial crisis

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The Financial Services Authority (FSA) blocked just 30 out of a possible 227,000 applications from individuals to join the financial sector in the six years since the banking crisis erupted, a rejection rate of just 0.01%.

Renamed the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 1 April, the regulator rejected an average of one appointment for every 7,566 proposed by banking, insurance and other finance firms under the terms of its approved persons regime between April 2007 and the end of 2012, according to figures obtained by Reuters.

The FCA does not break out rejections by year, but annual figures do show the number of applications and withdrawals. The latest full year figures show withdrawals came in at just 597 in the year to April 2012, against a peak of 1,850 in the year to April 2009.

"In addition to 30 applications for approval being formally refused since 2007, during the same period, over 7,000 applications were withdrawn after submission - many of which were after close scrutiny by the FSA," a spokeswoman for the regulator told Reuters.

Regulators overseeing London's financial industry have been at the forefront of a Europe-wide drive to increase professional standards by scrutinising candidates slated for key roles, in a bid to ensure they have the requisite skills to do their jobs.

Members of the financial community said the rules, tightened in late 2008, would impede company hiring plans and 1,850 of the 40,997 candidates put forward in the year to April 2009 voluntarily withdrew applications for approved status.

But the new figures show the numbers of people withdrawing from assessment have fallen sharply, while rejections have remained negligible.

Most assessments are done in writing but the regulator routinely interviews candidates for the most senior roles in "high impact firms", and carries out other interviews on a "risk-based approach if there are concerns about a candidate or firm", the FCA spokeswoman added.

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