by Michelle Hannen & Michael Faulkner

The director of the FSA's high street firms division, Sarah Wilson, has defended the organisation's decision not to make qualifications mandatory for insurance brokers.

She said the FSA would take advantage of the expertise of the newly-created Financial Services Skills Council and let it take responsibility for maintaining a list of suitable exams.

The FSA took the view that the risk to consumers was not sufficiently high to warrant requiring specific qualifications for brokers. Instead, it had chosen to let the senior management of each business decide what qualifications staff required. "Exams are never the whole story," Wilson said.

Following the publication of the final rules on capital requirements and appointed representatives - PS174 and PS159 - brokers were now in a position to decide on their response to regulation.

They could choose direct authorisation, possibly as principles, or appointed representative status, or they could stop regulated activities altogether.

"We are expecting many thousands of firms to take the direct authorisation route," said Wilson.

But she dismissed suggestions that the FSA should produce templates of documents to help firms achieve compliance. "It is not an appropriate role for the FSA. We do not need to get involved at that level."

She added that there was scope for parts of the industry to get together and develop templates for certain issues.