The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has spent an average of more than £1m annually in the last six years on the services of 'headhunting' businesses, tasked with finding suitable candidates for senior positions at Canary Wharf.
According to figures obtained by IFAonline through a Freedom of Information request, the regulator has paid these businesses a total of £6.69m since 2007.
The FSA said it did not use the term 'headhunters', but preferred 'executive search' firms.
The spending peaked at £1.91m in 2010, while it has forked out £658,350 so far this year.
The regulator spent more than £100,000 alone on a company asked to find a suitable replacement for former head of enforcement Margaret Cole.
Ultimately, it opted for an internal hire - Tracey McDermott - who had already been doing the job for 16 months on an interim basis.
The FSA said it used executive search firms "to identify suitable candidates for senior level positions within the organisation".
"Firms are selected due to their extensive networking connections and expertise within a particular field which enable them to effectively benchmark the external market," it said.
Key senior appointments during this period have included Hector Sants as chief executive in 2007 and Sally Dewar as managing director in 2008, the same year in which Jon Pain became managing director for retail markets.
In 2010, its most profligate year, the key appointments included Linda Woodall as director of small firms and Lesley Titcomb as chief operating officer.
The FSA's total annual budget for conducting all its activities has been estimated at £543.5m for 2012/13, with £371.8 earmarked for staff costs, including recruitment.
The FSA's spend on executive search firms by year:
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