Michelle Hannen

Brokers are facing a 31 December deadline to decide whether they will become FSA-authorised or exit the market.

The FSA's final rules on CP159 and CP174 will not be released until September, and the final rules on CP187 are not due until early next year, but Norwich Union (NU) intermediary business director Ken Wallace has set its brokers a deadline of the year's end to notify the insurer of their intentions and demonstrate that they are taking appropriate action.

"We need to be convinced and comfortable, I would say by January 2004, that these brokers have got a clear way ahead and are taking the necessary steps to get ready for authorisation," Wallace said.

"If we're renewing policies in March 2004 we've got to be confident these brokers are going to be around to manage it in March 2005," he added.

Royal & SunAlliance (RSA) corporate business director Brendan McManus said that as brokers still have a year to become compliant, demanding they make quick decisions now would only provide superficial answers.

"That's just form filling and won't provide any accurate data as to the real outcome," McManus said.

David Smith, Zurich's UK commercial head of business operations, agreed. "We're aware of what all our key brokers are doing because we have a constant dialogue," said Smith. "But it's not the right time to take any precipitative action. The FSA's rules haven't even been published yet."

AXA head of broker development Colin Caulder said the insurer would not be demanding decisions from its agents by the year's end.

"We're working on the principle of `how can we help' and in that process brokers are indicating what they are doing and what their intentions are," he said.

A spokeswoman for Allianz Cornhill said the insurer would not be pushing brokers for answers this year.