The FSA is busy running its authorisation seminars across the UK. I attended one at the CII a couple of weeks ago. The event was well attended and the venue was very cold.
My problem with the event was that the audience was mixed - insurance and mortgage people. The training was provided by the FSA's industry training division and, while it came over well, the superficial nature made it hard to grasp. I came away with more questions unanswered than had been answered.
The size of the FSA rulebook is disputed - some say 9ft tall. If this is the case, to spend half a day going through a long application then chunks of the handbook is giving people a very false sense of security. The questions in the application require you to understand specific areas, such as systems and controls and training and competence. These need detailed explanation.
For the FSA to say it has never been asked how to set up a statutory trust, and that it does not know whether banks are geared up for this is wrong. Like GISC, it needs to spell out exactly what needs to be done.
Perhaps the FSA is not the organisation to stand in front of an audience and spell it out in detail - but the event claims to offer this. What the industry needs is a low-cost, time-effective solution that is easy to understand.
What do the rules mean in practice without having three sourcebooks on your desk?
The FSA has already received criticism from MPs on the handbook. Who can be proud of a rulebook that is unmanageable, unreadable and totally lacking in practical and sensible application? How is the industry supposed to comply?
Overall a C+, which means a lot more work to do.
Peter Killmister is a local insurance broker