Financial advisers battle to file online returns

Thousands of independent financial advisers have spent the past 10 weeks battling to file online regulatory returns with the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Thousands of independent financial advisers have spent the past 10 weeks battling to file online regulatory returns with the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The FSA has pressed ahead with the introduction of mandatory online filing despite being warned by the Association ofIndependent Financial Advisers (Aifa), which represents 14,000 financial advisers, that the new system would fail.

The system, Firms Online, was launched on 1 July ahead of an11 August deadline for online filing. This was put back to 9 September after IFAs complained the new system could not cope with the number of users trying to access it or the volumes of data they were trying to upload.

"Aifa was involved in the pilot of the project and at the time we warned the FSA of our concerns. Unfortunately many of them came true," a representative of the organisation told Computer Weekly.

"The system crashed. There were many serious technical problems and firms had difficulties completing their returns."

Many IFAs found they could not upload sales data held on their customer relationship management applications. According to Aifa, the Firms Online site would crash or time out during the upload process.

FSA spokesman Robin Gordon-Walker said, "There were times when it was running a bit slow and it was difficult to access. It is working; it just can't take the load."

The FSA is now looking at outsourcing its IT, which would transfer the roles of "a few hundred people at most," a spokesman said. The authority spent £14.2m on IT in the year to March.

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