Australia's corporate watchdog says cuts to its staff and programs are being forced by a government-imposed spending squeeze and a ''permanent reduction in funding''.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission told its 2000 public servants on Wednesday that voluntary redundancies were being sought and that ''difficult decisions'' were being made about how much of the commission's work could continue.

ASIC slumped to a $44 million loss in the 2012-13 financial year and, in a message sent to workers on Wednesday, management indicated that a tough budget was expected in May.

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''Heading into the 2014-15 financial year, we know that we have an increased efficiency dividend for the next three years as well as a permanent reduction in funding,'' the circular said.

''Aspects of the May budget are unknown, but it is important that we make changes now in order to meet our strategic objectives.''

Workers were left in no doubt that the commission would not be able to continue all of the work now being undertaken, but no detail was provided about what might be cut and what is to be spared.

''The commission have been clear that all senior executive leaders will need to make some difficult decisions regarding business priorities and reductions to goods and services,'' the circular reads.

''With a reduced workforce, senior executive leaders will need to assess what work continues and what might stop.''

ASIC's management says it has no target number for voluntary redundancies. ''ASIC, like all APS (Australian Public Service) agencies, is operating in a changing environment,'' the advice to staff said.

''Once we receive expressions of interest we may need to look again at how we can organise ourselves to deliver on our strategic priorities and meet our budget.''

ASIC staff have eight days to decide if they want to apply for a redundancy pay-out.

A parliamentary inquiry into ASIC has attracted a near-record number of submissions. A report is expected at the end of May, summing up the regulator's performance and how to improve it.

Alternative funding models, including privatising its corporate registries business, which could be worth billions of dollars, are expected to be canvassed in the report.