The vision is now a reality - the FSA's application process is underway. In a matter of weeks, the application forms will be arriving on brokers' desks. It's decision time - become authorised, either directly or as an appointed representative (AR), or exit the industry.

Opinion at the moment is against brokers becoming ARs. Royal & SunAlliance estimates that 75% of its agency base will seek direct authorisation.

Many of the networks have eschewed the AR route, stating that they will not become a principal for their members. The networks' preferred route is to offer their members assistance in becoming directly authorised.

But whatever route you take, you cannot afford to procrastinate. As Chris Arter says this week, timescales are tight. If you want to ensure that you are authorised by 14 January 2005, the application form must be submitted by 14 July 2004 - and that guarantee will only apply if the application contains no errors.

Also this week, Grant Ellis casts a critical eye over the Treasury's consultation on the transitional complaints regime.

Michael Faulkner