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Federal Jobs and Compensation at Financial Regulatory Agencies

Did you know that there are entire agencies paying their employees significantly higher than those with similar federal jobs in agencies paying pursuant to the General Schedule and Senior Executive Service salary scales? How do they do it and how can you get one of those jobs? Congress provided these agencies with the authority to establish their own pay and benefits programs. This article provides some insight into the amounts of pay and kinds of benefits/subsidies provided by Federal financial regulatory agencies as well as the most prevalent types of positions occupied at those agencies.

Who Are These Agencies?

Although there are a number of financial regulatory agencies, the largest and most well-known of these include the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Through a series of Congressional actions beginning with the FIRREA in 1989 (link) and ending most recently with the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011 (link), each of these agencies, other than the FRB, either is charged setting employee compensation comparable to the others, or, in the case of the CFPB, comparable to the FRB. The impact of these statutory provisions has resulted in a steady escalation to, and enhancement of, compensation at these agencies over the past twenty years. Superimposed on this comparability mandate is the fact that the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) currently negotiates compensation provisions on behalf of employees at each of these agencies other than the FRB and the CFTC, where a petition for representation is pending (check on this).

How Do Salaries Compare to the General Schedule?

By way of illustration, let’s look at some relevant statistics at the largest of these agencies, the FDIC, as compared to the rest of the government. The negotiated compensation agreement between the FDIC and NTEU covering 2010-2013 provides that basic non-supervisory/executive pay will be at least 10% and no more than 40% above comparable GS pay grades. Stated another way, the 2013 salary for a GS-12 (average grade for a Washington, D.C. area employee), Step 10 employee at most executive agencies was $78,355, while the maximum salary of a CG-12 FDIC employee was $109,697. In terms of an overall comparison, the average GS salary for 2013, including locality pay, was $79,030 while the average 2013 FDIC salary, including locality pay, was $123,710, a 56% increase.
Are There Different Benefits?
In addition to the significantly higher salary scales, the following links are some examples of the generous benefit programs provided by the financial regulatory agencies: separate 401(k) plans with agency contributions; distinct agency insurance programs covering health, life, vision, dental, and long-term disability; annual physical exam subsidies; and generous relocation programs. All of these benefits exist independent of the insurance plans and benefits available to other federal employees. Of particular significance is the fact that, besides having its own 401(k) savings plan, the FRB has its own unique pension plan, in which employees of the CFPB may also participate.

What Kinds of Jobs Are Available?

The workforce at these financial regulatory agencies largely consists of: Bank Examiners, Financial Analysts, Economists, Accountants, Attorneys and IT professionals. However, there are also numerous administrative positions in areas such as Human Resources (including Benefits, Labor & Employee Relations, Policy and Training), Equal Employment Opportunity, Procurement and Budget Operations. These administrative positions generally require no financial prerequisites and, as indicated above, are significantly more lucrative than their counterparts at other executive agencies.

Please visit the websites of each of the referenced agencies, usajobs, and search all federal sector and for related jobs by occupation and agency in order to see the full range of available positions.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

About The Author

David Scholl recently retired with 35 years of Federal legal and human resources experience from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. While at OPM, Scholl served as a Deputy Assistant General Counsel where he was the principal agency labor-management relations legal advisor and handled a variety of Federal staffing issues. At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Scholl held positions as an Assistant Director of Personnel for Labor and Employment Relations and as a Senior Counsel in the Legal Division, where he conducted labor and employment law mediation, negotiation and litigation. Scholl began his Federal career with the Office of the General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Scholl received his law degree from The Catholic University of America and undergraduate degree from Lehigh University.