This Week’s Dilemma

I am a directly authorised sole trader. I have always dealt honestly with my customers and had no trouble getting authorised. But with the shift to principles-based regulation I am finding it hard to keep up-to-date with what the Financial Services Authority expects of me. FSA concerns are not all in one place and seem to be spread across speeches, press releases and newsletters, I am 55 years old and want to build my trading turnover to boost my retirement savings but compliance work has become too time-consuming. What are my options?

Your first option could be to recruit and retain good staff who could generate additional income. However, the recruitment of trained and suitable candidates is a growing problem.

It’s one thing to pass CeMAP but staff need appropriate practical experience to advise clients in a compliant way. There are recruitment and training companies in the marketplace such as New Leaf that may be able to help, but employing staff also entails a lot of extra paperwork. At the age of 55 and still a sole trader, perhaps you want to keep rowing your own boat.

A second option could be to outsource the compliance work. A consultancy could manage the Financial Services Authority compliance work required, but this could come with a substantial price tag. On the other hand, if the cost seems reasonable you have to ask if the service going to be adequate. It would be wise to get references and make sure the consultancy has sound IT systems in place to provide you with a compliance safety net.

Third, you could give up your directly authorised status and become the appointed representative of a network. Some autonomy will be lost but if retirement is on the horizon maybe this doesn’t matter. The network will carry the burden of compliance so maximum time should be freed up to deal with clients. Once again, you should check that the networks you are considering have proper systems in place to provide the compliance services they charge for.