The Guide to the FSA Handbook for Small Mortgage and Insurance Intermediaries (the Guide) is primarily intended for small intermediary firms carrying on:
mortgage mediation activities in relation to regulated mortgage contracts; or
insurance mediation activities in relation to general insurance contracts or pure protection contracts (except long term care insurance), collectively known as 'non-investment insurance contracts'; or
from a permanent place of business in the UK.
Since 31 October 2004 we (the FSA) have been responsible for regulating mortgage intermediaries, and since 14 January 2005 we have regulated insurance intermediaries. This Guide will help small mortgage and insurance intermediaries to find the rules in the FSA Handbook of rules and guidance (the Handbook) that apply to them. The Guide refers to, and contains extracts from, various parts of the Handbook. Firms should consult the Handbook to determine the precise wording and effect of the rules. In addition, firms may need to refer to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (the FSMA).
Not every mortgage or insurance intermediary does identical business or is permitted to carry on the same type of activities. This Guide directs firms to those parts of the Handbook that will usually be relevant to typical small mortgage and insurance intermediaries that have simple organisational structures and do not carry on any regulated activities other than mortgage or insurance mediation activities.
As well as firms whose principal business is carrying on insurance mediation activities, this Guide will also help small firms carrying on insurance mediation activities as a secondary activity, provided that their main business is not regulated by us. This would include, for example, mobile phone retailers who also sell mobile phone insurance but no other kinds of insurance.
Similarly, the Guide does not cover many of the rules that apply to firms that are authorised or require authorisation for investment business, such as IFAs and firms that carry on insurance mediation activities in relation to life policies. Nor does it cover many of the rules that apply to insurance companies and mortgage lenders. These firms will need to consult other sources of information to identify the rules that apply to them. Small IFAs might find the FSA guide Using the FSA Handbook: an overview for small IFA firms helpful.
Although the Guide is primarily intended for authorised firms, we are aware that many small firms carrying on mortgage or insurance mediation are appointed representatives (ARs). Part I, Chapter 9 of the Guide explains how ARs carrying on these regulated activities are regulated, and there are references elsewhere in the Guide to some of the requirements that apply either to ARs directly or to firms with ARs. However, the Guide does not cover all of the rules that apply to networks and other firms with ARs.
Whether or not you are a small mortgage or insurance intermediary, this Guide is only a tool to help you navigate and understand the Handbook and to find the rules that are relevant to your firm. It is not a substitute for reading the rules themselves and is not a comprehensive statement of your firm's obligations under our rules. You should use it to help guide you through the most relevant aspects of our regulatory regime.
The Guide is current as at 31 March 2005. This Guide does not remove the need for firms to keep up to date with regulatory developments and to consider the potential impact on their business of proposed changes. We will regularly update this Guide but we will not update it each time the Handbook changes.