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European Union

European Central Bank in search of staff

The European Central Bank (ECB) is in search of some 1,000 people to fill positions in a new banking supervision unit. Observers are calling it a vanguard in financial controlling: It's certainly a first for Europe.

Caroline Willeke has exactly 12 months to find 1000 new employees for Europe's top bank: a mammoth task. She's the head of Personal Recruitment at the ECB, a 10-person team that spends its days perusing applications from hopefuls around the continent. They must be EU citizens, must have at least a bachelor's degree, and extensive work experience.

Whether they are bankers, accountants, or consultants, each applicant must be well-versed in bank sheets and risk management. The ECB is looking for 770 bank inspectors, in addition to IT experts, lawyers, actuaries, and employees in human resources. All positions are to be filled by November 2014, by which time the ECB is to begin controlling Europe's biggest banks.

Top managers first

Willeke used headhunters to find candidates for the top jobs. "We decided to go with the top-down approach to select our banking supervisors," the recruiter told DW. They want to fill positions in top management first, then in middle management.

The director generals are to choose their own department and branch heads. "This has the advantage that they can build their own teams. They can have a good overview of how the teams work together, and choose the best ones," said Willeke.

Daniele Nouy

Nouy may be able to begin her work by the end of the year

Her team has been advertising the openings all over Europe. They have been traveling all around the continent answering questions regarding the jobs on offer, the salaries and potential bonuses, and what life is like in Frankfurt.

We emphasized that we are also looking for female candidates to fill top positions," said Willeke, adding that "clear goals" had been laid out for what percentage of the jobs would be filled by women. "There are 1000 jobs to fill, and this provides a great opportunity to move forward in this regard."

This comes after the ECB's nomination of Daniele Nouy to the head the institution's supervisory agency. If the European Parliament and Council give their approval, she could start work as Europe's top banking supervisor by the end of the year.

Inspection already underway

The first 79 bank inspectors began their work already in the summer: envoys from European central banks and national supervisory boards of EU states, a kind of vanguard that will have the task of drawing up the blueprints for future banking inspection.

Karen Shine of Ireland is one of these people. The 32-year-old is working on regulating fees for European banks. "What we're doing is seen as a kind of pioneer mission for bank supervision," said Shine, adding that she was able to use the knowledge she gained in Ireland in this new task.

Shine was a financial controller in Dublin, but she's keen to stay in Frankfurt for at least another year, having just renewed her contract with the ECB. Five different groups have been set up in Frankfurt, including two that are to draft a legal framework for banking supervision. The others are to determine which banks to inspect and how to inspect them, while another is to prepare the specifics of the audit.

More than half of the envoys are from Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Gollum-graffiti on a wall protecting the construction site of the new ECB headquarters

The new ECB headquarters in Frankfurt is still under construction

More than one move

Another massive project currently underway at the ECB is to be finished in the summer of 2014: construction of a new headquarters in the Frankfurt district of Ostend. Around 2300 employees will be moving, not including the 1000 candidates for the new supervisory positions.

But there's a problem: There may not be enough room. The new building had already been planned, with a maximum capacity of 2,800 - well short of the 3,300 people the ECB will be employing at that point. The solution is for the new banking supervisors to move back into the old ECB building, the Eurotower in downtown Frankfurt, once the big move has taken place.

In any event, regardless of what building they're in, by next summer the ECB will be monitoring not only financial policy in the EU - it will also be inspecting the bloc's biggest banks.

DW.DE