Is the FSA's message starting to get through to brokers? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Stories continue to do the rounds of brokers who are frighteningly ignorant of what is to happen in January 2005 - such as the broker who expressed a desire to remain with GISC rather than be FSA regulated (see Backchat 16 Oct 2003). But these are now thankfully very much in the minority.

The question that brokers now need to address is whether they will choose to be authorised and if so by what route. The FSA's authorisation application form is to be published next month, so it will soon be time to lay cards on the table and make a decision.

The regulator has said that it will take six months to process a correctly competed form and that it might take 12 months if the form is imperfect. The deadlines are fast approaching.

The other option is for brokers to sell their business. But opinion is divided on the extent to which the acquisition market is set to grow.

The feeling at Biba is that brokers who want to sell up have already done so, or are in the process of doing so. Others suggest that the number of sales is set to grow quite dramatically over the coming months.

Some brokers may take a third way. Become authorised and then sell, calculating that a compliant business will be worth more than an uncompliant one.

Which camp do you fit into?

Michael Faulkner

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