Financial Markets Authority (FMA) chief executive Sean Hughes has taken a big knife to the former Securities Commission's staff perks, which included massages and Christmas gift packs, saying he had become concerned about how the new financial markets watchdog's expenditure on such items would look in public.

Included on his perk-busting hit list were staff farewells and family-related gift tokens. The total cost of these perks and others came to $60,000 - the equivalent of one salary - a year, he said.

"Recently, I mentioned that I am carefully considering a range of discretionary staff benefits which were previously supplied by the Securities Comission, predominantly to its Wellington-based staff," he said in an email leaked to the media.

"I am concerned that our expenditure of public funds on a number of these items may not stand up to public scrutiny as was the fact that they are not universally available to all staff," he said. "It's also debatable whether many of these items ought to be provided by an employer," he said.

Hughes said he had cancelled the SkyTV subscription in the former chairman - Jane Diplock's - executive lounge and had put a stop to the tradition of putting on a catered lunch for some staff members each month.

"I don't believe I can justfy FMA providing a monthly catered lunch for only some staff when they are arguably doing no more than what is their usual job," he said.

"Taxpayers' funds have to be used extremely carefully and cautiously," he said. "When you're talking about the equivalent of a fulltime salary, then you have to ask yourself, 'should we be doing this?"

The FMA, which has more extensive powers than its predecessor, came into force on May 1.