More nations are adopting a single regulator for their financial sectors, according to news release today from Central Banking Publications in London.

The findings were contained in the 2006 edition of “How Countries Supervise Their Banks Insurers, and Securities Markets.”

Of 196 jurisdictions profiled in the directory, 38 were said to have a single regulator akin to the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom.

Authors of the study noted that a decade ago there were only 15 countries with a sole regulator for financial services. Of the nearly 40 nations that now have one financial services regulator, 15 created that post in the past five years.

Within the 196 jurisdictions it examined, Banking Publications said it looked at 508 financial regulatory authorities, and the book includes contact information for many of them.

In addition to rapid growth of single supervisory agencies, the study found a rapid growth of agencies, staff shortages for regulators and an internationalization of regulators.

The researchers said that while North American regulatory agencies can trace a long history, they are the exceptions, with most in other countries having been established since 1990.

Creation of these agencies is a sign that financial regulation is accepted as an important part of the template of what makes up a modern economy, the authors said, noting that after conflicts ended in Timor and Kosovo, banking regulation was put in place even before creation of a central bank.

Since 2000, according to the book, Japan, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria, Ireland and Taiwan have all created a sole regulator for their financial system, while others have been instituted in offshore locations such as Jamaica, Dubai and Qatar.

The authors said another trend is creation of new, small insurance regulators in countries where none has existed or where insurance supervision has been rudimentary. They cited Sri Lanka, Slovenia and India.

In some countries the writers saw what they said was unified supervisors who were “claw backs,” where the central bank absorbed new responsibilities for non-banking regulation as well. The study cited Ireland, Slovakia, Malawi, Bahrain and Cayman Islands as examples.

According to the book, this type of arrangement represents a solution to shortages of skilled staff and financing, which is a problem for most supervisors.

The authors said central banks are more likely to be able to offer remuneration packages above those set for the civil service, which is crucial if regulators are to protect themselves from poaching of staff by the industry.

Finding and keeping expert staff–when the industry being supervised can always outbid the regulator–is a problem that is not going away, the report said. It found that demand for skilled staff remains pressing and regulators in Europe are on a recruitment drive, employing 3.7 percent more staff than just a year ago.

The book reported that the European Union, with 13,000 financial supervisors, still lags the United States by a wide margin, and if all the staff of America’s state banking, securities and insurance regulators are included, it is clear that the U.S. employs more than 33,000 financial regulators, dwarfing the staffs of the combined EU regulatory authorities.

According to the book, pressure on staffing has created a trend where top regulators hopscotch among countries, citing Bill Ryback, a former associate director of banking at the U.S. Federal Reserve, who is now deputy chief executive officer at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

It also mentioned Michael Foot, who left the Bank of England to establish the U.K. Financial Services Authority, and is now inspector of banks and trust companies in the Bahamas.

Banking Publications said it works on the directory information with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.