The cost of becoming compliant is a big issue for brokers. In addition to the cost of making the application and any advisory work, there is the hidden cost of putting in place compliant systems and processes.

The total cost could amount to as much as 20% of brokerage, according to Biba - a potentially huge blow to brokers' profitability.

Not surprisingly, brokers are looking to keep their compliance spend to a minimum and avoid unnecessary expense. But many brokers are unaware of an FSA dispensation that could save them a significant amount of money.

The dispensation relates to the requirement for larger brokers with an annual income of over £1m to have an independent audit of their IT systems (as required by Appendix 2).

This is an expensive exercise, given that firms are currently being quoted around £10,000 to have the audit done.

But brokers can avoid this requirement if they meet certain conditions set out by the FSA. To find out if you qualify, read on.

Michael Faulkner