Poor training and complexity of FSA regulation is confusing the broking community, says Susie Colley

Regulation for the industry will be very good if it achieves its goals, but I have several concerns with the process that is underway to achieve regulation.The forms HSF1 and HSF2 are very complex and to complete these forms, knowledge of what the FSA requires is essential. One would have assumed that this information would have formed an integral part of the FSA's workshops. But, sadly, after the experience to which I was subjected in January, nothing could be further from the truth. If the FSA workshop that I attended in Exeter was typical of those being held throughout the country, then insufficient help is being offered to intermediaries. The whole morning session was sloppy, unrehearsed and the speakers were lacking in knowledge and repeatedly referred to the subject matter as "stuff". This "stuff" is the backbone of our industry and if we do not get it right the ramifications will be too catastrophic to contemplate. The HSF forms are available either in hard copy or online. What I find incredulous is the fact that if completed incorrectly they are rejected, there is no appeal and the £500 fee (higher for larger brokers) is forfeited. Presumably, these amounts are a nice little earner for the Chancellor. The delegates at the morning session required answers to questions to assist them in completing this very expensive form. However, when asked, the civil servant who so quaintly referred to everything as "stuff" said that it would be insulting everyone's intelligence to "go through the forms". Why did he think we were there? If intermediaries are not successful in attaining authorisation this will impact on the economy throughout the country and be very serious in areas that are already economically fragile. No one, I am sure, will deny that regulation is necessary for the protection of the client, as we are all fully aware of incidences of the 'bad apples' syndrome. There are many of us in the industry that are aware of those less than honest intermediaries who have managed to successfully hoodwink the existing GISC regulation. But they will continue their antics at the expense of us, their peers and of course their unsuspecting clients. How will they do this? It is my belief that the FSA will not have the manpower or the resources to check adequately each and every principal and approved person. The consequence of this is that yet again by obtaining authorisation these "bad apples" will be afforded the same badge of professionalism as their hard working honest peers. This will again replicate the scenario of the GISC and will debase the very concept of regulation. It will demoralise those who are unsuccessful in being authorised as they failed to fill in the form correctly but in every other aspect were true and honest . In addition those honest intermediaries will again have to share the kudos of authorisation with those that do not deserve the title of intermediary. Surely regulation should have been phased in gradually segment by segment? The lessons learned from each segment then passed on to assist a smoother transition for each consecutive insurance sector. Unless I am mistaken, all areas in the insurance industry are to be regulated with the exception of travel agents. Hands up the last time anyone discussed their existing medical conditions with a travel agent while purchasing travel insurance. To my knowledge a vet who advises a client to take out insurance has to be regulated, but if he merely allows insurance brochures to be displayed in his surgery, he does not have to be. The FSA needs to take advice from the GISC before it is too late. There is still time for common sense to infiltrate into the morass of confusion.Susie Colley is principal of intermediary West Country Health Care

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