With compliance and risk right at the very top of the financial services sector agenda, a leading recruiter has warned that some organisations could be at risk from agencies’ sloppy compliance procedures and urges firms to insist on agencies which can mitigate the risk for their clients.

Robert Bowyer, Director at Venn Group, a provider of temporary staff to the financial services sector says that there are instances where smaller financial services organisations may use recruitment agencies without understanding the checks that need to be performed on candidates. “If a firm is found not to have carried out the relevant checks, the FSA can fine up to £16000 for each and every temporary worker affected. It is important to realise that it is the hiring organisation that is liable – even if they are using a recruitment agency.”

Boywer says that as well as the obvious checks such as eligibility to work in the UK, proof of ID and references, a basic compliance check should also include a criminal records check and credit check. “It is not unheard of for the FSA to impose a fine purely for the omission of a credit check – a deterioration in employees’ financial circumstances may indicate increased vulnerability to becoming involved in fraud, for example.”

Bowyer believes that it is a fundamental responsibility of recruiters to be able to mitigate risk on behalf of their clients: “Ascertaining what compliance checks your recruitment agency has in place should be your first port of call. We would recommend that you not only request a detailed plan of the compliance policy but also ask the agency to explain how this is monitored throughout the duration of an assignment or contract.”