Online system faces severe test as thousands of firms upload RMARs

The FSA's online reporting system is to face its "first real test" over the coming weeks as thousands of firms attempt to upload financial data, compliance experts have warned.

As many as 5,000 firms that report results on 30 September will be required to file their retail mediation activities return (RMAR) with the FSA before the 11 November.

The warning comes only months after the FSA's online reporting system was plunged into chaos owing to admitted "teething problems".

Errors reported then included: incorrect advice from FSA staff; passwords that did not work: and problems entering data.

Compliance Solutions managing director Gary Dixon said: "The difficulty is as the [11 November] deadline gets closer the system becomes gridlocked, and it gets very slow."

Dixon said he had already experienced problems: "In the last week I have been thrown out of the system several times." He said he had also experienced some technical hitches with checking the return before it was finalised.

"It is meant to take 15 minutes for the returns to be checked by the system," Dixon said. "There have been some cases where it has taken up to six days.

"I have no doubt there will be more problems as 11 November approaches."

Another compliance expert warned: "The fiasco in August was sorted out quite quickly. But now there could be more problems because so many firms are reporting at this time of year.

The FSA urged companies due to file returns before the November deadline to do so swiftly.

A spokeswoman said: "We would encourage firms reporting on 30 September to start filing returns.

"The system closes between 10pm and 8am to allow it to back up and be kept up to date."

She added that the FSA continued to "iron out [the system's] teething problems."