Simon Burgess' article about PPI insurance (Features, 1 June) raises some interesting issues on the sale of insurance products.

He is quite correct in pointing out that greater training is a key element in raising the bar. Equally important is ensuring that the sales process for PPI - like any other insurance product - takes compliance requirements on board in an integral way, rather than grudgingly accepting them as a necessary evil.

The idea of making some kind of professional qualification compulsory has both supporters and detractors.

This may effectively come about over time, either as a result of specific requirements being brought in, or simply as the consequence of more and more firms encouraging their staff to study as a means of demonstrating competence.

Applying practical knowledge rather than mastering theory, however, will always remain of paramount importance.

What is crystal clear in all this is that, whatever they may have said in their submissions to the FSA, many firms across the general insurance industry are still not complying with the training and competence (T&C) requirements set out in the FSA's T&C handbook.

To date, the regulator has focused less on T&C and more on topics such as contract certainty, client money and treating customers fairly. But when the spotlight shifts to T&C, as it inevitably will, it seems almost certain that many firms will be found wanting.

As someone working in insurance training, I find it very disappointing that it requires the stick of regulation to get firms to focus on the training and development of their people, ultimately the greatest resource of any business.

Ensuring that employees achieve their maximum potential - and doing so in a way that is customer-focused - is surely the blueprint for success in any industry sector.

Peter Farmer
Searchlight Solutions