Deadline may leave firms behind

Mick Kavanagh

The Law Society has warned that applications by its members to win approval to conduct discrete investment business is now falling behind schedule.

Previous society predictions suggested that up to 800 individuals might wish to apply for 'qualified person' status on behalf of their firms, which must be obtained by 1 November deadline in order to continue trading in the field.

The society has issued several appeals since last July that applications must be submitted as soon as possible. But so far only 175 applications have been received.

A letter sent to managing partners in March warns firms the tight time scale for authorisation may leave some firms unable to trade.

Keith Boxley, senior investment business manager, says: "We have had several attempts at geeing up practices to submit applications as soon as possible. If people fail to get approval based on experience, the only alternative is examination which is going to take some time. We are concerned that people who need to take that route may be leaving it late and risking not being authorised by 1 November."

Financial advisers authorised by the Personal Investment Authority have been granted a further 18 months to secure qualification compared to the Law Society's own timetable.

But Boxley says there is no suggestion that the Law Society will extend its own deadline for people seeking qualification to conduct discrete investment business.

Boxley accepts that the figure of 800 individuals which the Law Society thought may apply for qualified person status may be significantly higher than those who ultimately seek the qualification.

* Jock Campbell, private client investment specialist with solicitors Blake Lapthorn, has been awarded the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate by the Chartered Insurance Institute. Campbell, who has also attained qualified person status from the society, handles trust administration, fund management and investments for the firm's private clients.

"I had hoped to be able to qualify by either experience or exam," says Campbell. "It was hard work for the year getting the AFPC exam, but it helped take the uncertainty out of it."