A QUESTION mark hangs over the future of financial services as figures from the Law Society reveal that fewer firms than expected have taken up the gauntlet to carry out investment business.
The society received 306 applications from firms looking to register for "qualified person" status in time for the deadline of 1 November when only qualified persons can undertake discrete investment business.
Of these, 20 per cent were from solicitors.
Over half the number were approved for dealing with packaged products such as unit trusts, and 20 per cent received approval for securities and portfolio management, while a small number were approved for both. A few were also approved for corporate pensions work.
"The figures are lower than expected," said Keith Boxley, senior investment business officer in the society's monitoring unit.
He said the low numbers of applications might be due to some being "put off by the problems associated with becoming a qualified person".
Others may have left it too late, he said. However, he added that a number had taken examinations in July and would be applying when the results came out.
David Lough, of Cripps Harries Hall, said applications meant that there was "quite a hoop to get through. The form is very difficult as they've intentionally been quite rigorous."