Up to 70,000 broker applications need to be processed by January 2005

The mammoth task of processing applications by brokers for FSA regulation is to be outsourced to a Dublin-based company, industry sources said.

Tens of thousands of brokers are expected to apply for regulated status to allow them to keep trading after 15 January 2005, when the regulations take effect.

The precise number of brokers requiring authorisation is not yet known, but the final total has been estimated at anything up to 70,000.

The contract for processing the applications attracted big name consultancy and IT firms believed to include PricewaterhouseCoopers and Capita.

It is understood a Dublin-based company will undertake the work of sifting through and processing the applications, but will not be responsible for deciding which brokers are successful. That decision will be taken by FSA staff.

Key to the smooth running of the task - and the cost of the operation - will be the number of 'problem applications' that require careful examination by FSA authorities.

The FSA is already planning to test a draft version of its application form on brokers in an attempt to minimise the number of forms that are incorrectly completed.

A spokesman for the FSA said: "No decision has been taken yet."

Brokers will be able to apply to the FSA for authorisation from January 2004.

The FSA recently revealed that brokers would not have to be fully compliant at the time of applying for authorisation, but in doing so would undertake to be compliant when regulation takes effect.