Insurance professionals may be able to use their own in-house training programmes as one way to meet the strict competency and training requirements of the GISC.

However, the initiative is more likely to benefit larger brokers with their tradition of in-house training.

"Your own internal training procedures can come forward and be measured against those in the GISC proposal," said chief executive Chris Woodburn.

He said those selling insurance would need to spend around 12 hours a year to keep abreast of latest developments and industry best practice.

Woodburn added that he hoped training would be viewed from the prospective of career enhancement rather than as a regulatory chore.

Even the industry's so called "grandfathers" needed "continuing professional development", he added.

Proposals currently exist to exempt "grandfathers" from the full impact of training by making their participation in training voluntary.

The GISC's second consultation document contains an entire chapter devoted to the issue and there are three broad categories of insurance sales staff who will have to undergo training. They are non-insurance specialists such as travel agents; direct sellers and intermediaries.

The lead-in period before the full impact of training requirements kicks in has been set for January 2003.