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Life offices say FSA is facing online compliance chaos

The FSA is not prepared for the chaos that could result from making advisers submit compliance returns online, say leading life offices.

The move could see the regulator deluged with forms delivered electronically from more than 4,000 firms.

Measures to force all advisers to submit their compliance returns online by the second quarter of 2005 were included in CP198, published in September, but no further details have emerged from the regulator.

The bulk of responsibility for submissions will be shouldered by life offices, which will submit most of the transaction data direct to the FSA from their own systems.

But life offices such as Scottish Widows and Norwich Union believe many IFA firms are not prepared for the task. Although both companies support the move, they believe it could bring big problems for firms that are still paper-based.

Financial Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna says: “This requirement will mean IFAs are going to use their existing systems for regulatory reporting and will have to make sure they keep everything up to date on a single system.”

Scottish Widows head of e-marketing Colin Watt says: “The situation could cause chaos for IFAs who are not prepared. Simplified reporting requirements should be of benefit to us all in the long run. However, for smaller firms the transition will be a real challenge.”

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