A survey has revealed that brokers are failing to understand the new FSA rules. At least one in four brokers would fail competency tests, a survey by Insurance Times in association with the Financial Services Skills Council reveals. We give a breakdown of the results and analysis

Looking at the results of the Insurance Times/Financial Services Skills Council survey on key FSA compliance topics and one phrase springs to mind - room for improvement.

The questions which were set by the FSSC are challenging according to the experts andfew will have scored top marks.

So, it seems there is a mountain to climb - and judging by the problems posed by this test, many brokers should be concerned about compliance and undergoing an FSA audit.

But are brokers to blame for the apparent ignorance? For smaller firms in particular, finding the time to study the massive amount of rules produced by the FSA and run their businesses is impossible.

Given that a high percentage have passed the initial milestone of achieving authorisation and indeed, adopted the voluntary GISC code, it seems they want to be compliant, but need more practicable rules.

Some brokers may also be struggling to impart knowledge to their staff which is highly complex. Many have not previously not had to offer any compliance training at all.

Norman Mackel, the Federation of Small Businesses' education and training chairman, says: "A firm with five staff cannot release employees for lengthy periods so that they can attend long training courses at local colleges where much of the funding is directed. Courses need to be bite sized and targeted at solving specific problems."

Certainly this is an area the newly established FSSC will be looking at. Launched last September, its aims are to increase productivity through skills development and ensuring consumer confidence in the industry.

FSSC chief executive Teresa Sayers says: "Our aims are straightforward: better business performance and productivity through more focused training and education for all financial services companies from sole traders and small enterprises to global multi-nationals.

"Successful employers know that lack of skills leads to loss of business, difficulties in meeting customer service and expectations, and increased operating costs."