It came as no surprise that the main finding of your IFA survey is that IFAs feel swamped by red tape and find regulation difficult. This is why we have been working hard for some time to improve the way we communicate and work with IFAs. I hope the initiatives we introduced last year, such as the regional roadshows and the dedicated IFA web pages, have gone some way to making us easier to do business with. Certainly, the feedback we have received suggests it has.
However, there is still more to do. As we are just about to launch a number of new initiatives as part of the next stage in improving the way we interface with IFAs, it seemed a good time to put pen to paper and highlight some of the things we are doing to help.
We are developing a range of new application packs for firms. IFAs currently account for 70 per cent of applicants. All applicants, from IFAs to investment banks, have until now been required to complete a one-size-fits-all pack.
The first pack, which was released on January 26, is the small firms application pack. This will be followed up with a sole trader application pack and a simple change of legal entity pack which is aimed at firms which want to change their legal status but are not otherwise changing their business. The small firms application pack is available from www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/other/sf_application_pack/ Our aim is to develop a suite of packs which will be shorter, simpler to understand and more relevant to specific types of applicants. It is hoped that applicants will save time and money as, for the first time, many firms should be able to complete their application without the need to involve advisers or compliance consultants.
We have recently published a booklet to help IFAs obtain PI cover. This was produced in conjunction with Aifa and Coll-egiate Insurance Brokers and is in direct response to the chalenges posed to us by the OFT.
The aim of the guide is to make the PI broking business more transparent and give IFAs a greater insight into the PI market, including the process of obtaining cover. The booklet contains valuable information to help IFAs see how best to present their business to insurers.
IFAs will be pleased to hear that they will no longer receive FSA material which is not relevant to their sector, provided they have signed up for our targeted email communications service.
This new technology allows us to target communications to specific firms and sectors. Coupled with John Tiner's pledge to reduce the amount of consultation papers we produce overall, we are confident that IFAs will experience a major reduction in the amount of paper they receive from us. Any IFA who has not signed up for this service can do so by logging on to www.fsa.gov.uk and accessing the targeting email communications box on the home page.
It became clear to us from a number of sources that some small IFAs find it difficult to understand their financial resource requirements and report their financial position on time. Our key concern with this lack of understanding is the potential for consumer loss as firms might fail because of inadequate financial resources. In response, we are planning to publish on our IFA web pages in the near future some information to help IFAs better understand our financial resource requirements. This will include worked examples on how to calculate the financial requirements they must maintain.
Last but not least, the Financial Ombudsman Service is consulting on firms having two free complaints a year. I know this is close to the hearts of many of your readers and I hope this will go a long way to dissolving the strong feelings that IFAs have about paying complaint case fees.
We are committed to bringing about change in the FSA to improve the way we interface with small IFAs and I hope these initiatives are welcome news. If there are any specific regulatory issues any readers would like to raise with me, please write to me at the FSA.
Director, Investment firms division,FSA