SITEL UK and Ireland, the leading provider of outsourced call centre services, has praised the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for its crackdown on Mortgage and General Insurance Regulation.

Andrew Young, SITEL's Group Finance Director for Northern Europe, said the pending deadline signalled a new level of professionalism for the industry.

"The new FSA regulations will weed out unscrupulous operators, protect consumers and strengthen the reputation of the accredited organisations as being part of an ethical, honest and trustworthy service sector."

After 14 January 2005, or General Insurance Day as it has been billed by the FSA, only firms who have received authorisation to provide information to customers on general insurance matters will be legally allowed to do so. Failure to comply with the guidelines will mean companies will be required to suspend the section of the business which provides this type of information.

The new accreditation follows the announcement of 2001 by HM Treasury, that it would regulate the sale and administration of mortgages, long-term care and general insurance.

One of the most dramatic impacts of the FSA regulations will be on outsourced contact centre operations. The financial services sector currently outsources a significant proportion of call centre operations, but organisations within the sector must now ensure that their contact centre partners are FSA compliant.

SITEL Corporation, with over 2,500 call centre positions in the UK and Ireland, servicing some of the markets leading credit card and financial services organisations, welcomes the challenge of FSA compliance.

"We took the decision to seek FSA accreditation to protect our financial services client base and their customers," said Andrew Young.

"As an outsourcer, we recognised the pressure on our clients to 'underwrite' outsourced call centre operations by merit of their own FSA accreditation, presenting significant cost and infrastructure implications," he said.

"In line with our company's strategy to truly 'partner' with client organisations, we felt it was incumbent upon us as a duty of care to our client relationships to seek FSA accreditation in our own right.

"Our clients can now enjoy peace of mind and the added security knowing that from January 14th 2005, SITEL will be able to talk direct to their customers offering advice, application processing and the selling of insurance and mortgage products, fully authorised and FSA compliant."

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