As a general insurance broker and IFA already registered with the FSA, we, like many others I suspect, have taken the option to apply to the FSA to vary permission.

Since the announcement from the FSA to regulate general insurance, we have been gathering information on the various requirements and taking steps to ensure that our systems, procedures and practices are compliant before applying for variation.

Most of the guidance has been provided by IFACT in its roadshows over the past several months.

One of the loudest messages from both the media and the roadshows in the run up to the release of the application forms has been to "get your application in EARLY" to avoid the risk of the application form being rejected, so missing the deadline for authorisation.

Armed with this warning and to take advantage of the discounts for applying online we set about filling in the electronic application form on the FSA website, only to find that questions 14, 15, 16 refer to insurance companies.

These questions are mandatory but there is no option on the drop-down menu to select "Not applicable" and to answer "yes" or "no" has an implication on subsequent questions and the fee payable.

To compound our frustrations, when we came to validating the page for section 6a it came up with an "error on page" message which we promptly reported to the FSA IT helpline.

We were told that they were aware of the problem, but when asked when this would be resolved we were informed that they didn't know but we should keep trying the page "now and again throughout the next four weeks".

If you are nervous about your authorisation application and the deadline, then don't be, the FSA isn't.

Julian Hale
Spedding Goldthorpe (Brokers)Ltd