APRA to boost staff numbers

APRA has confirmed it will hire around 100 more permanent staff after its funding boost.

In a planned statement to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, APRA chair Wayne Byers revealed the prudential regulator is looking to hire 100 more permanent staff and hinted at a new enforcement approach.

The statement was set to be delivered before the Senate last night, however after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a May 18 Federal Election yesterday morning, Byers' appearance could no longer go ahead.

In his statement, the APRA chair said the additional $150 million in funding awarded to the regulator just prior to the budget - when taken with the additional $60 million in funding announced in November last year - would allow APRA build a team larger than the 600 staff it has traditionally had on hand.

"This additional funding will support an increase of roughly 100 additional permanent staff, a meaningful increase relative to our long-run operating level of around 600," Byers said.

"The challenge for us now is to recruit the right people, and do so at a time the financial services industry is similarly seeking to lift capabilities in the same areas in which the regulators are increasing their focus."

Byers said the regulator would adopt a new enforcement approach with the additional funding, which it plans to make public "later this month."

Byers hinted APRA would use its enforcement tools "more quickly" but would not deviate from its traditional role too greatly.

"Taking into account developments such as the BEAR regime, the Royal Commission, the learnings from the CBA Inquiry - and the fact we have had new powers given to us - we plan to set out a new approach to enforcement that will see us utilising our enforcement tools more quickly in future, particularly for uncooperative institutions," he said.

"What will not change, however, is APRA's role as a safety regulator focused on supervision, with prevention as our primary goal."

Byers also noted the cases referred to the prudential regulator by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne would continue to be assessed, but do not carry civil or criminal penalty provisions directly.

"We continue to gather evidence on each of the possible enforcement matters referred to APRA, and expect to be able to make an assessment on the merits of further action in the coming months," Byers said.

"None of the potential breaches of the law or prudential standards that have been referred to APRA carry civil or criminal penalty provisions directly, although other avenues to impose sanctions may be available depending on the specific circumstances."

Read more: APRAWayne ByersSenate Economics Legislation CommitteeCBA InquiryCommissioner Kenneth HayneFederal ElectionPrime Minister Scott MorrisonRoyal Commission
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