An independent intermediary acts as the agent if his client and not on behalf of the life company.

An independent intermediary must offer or advise on the products available throughout the entire market. The advice to investors must be unbiased and any products recommended must be the most suitable for the particular client. The intermediary must also insure that, in his opinion, there is no other product available which could suit the client's investment needs more advantageously. Most intermediaries dealing with life insurance obtain authorisation to carry on business from the Personal Investment Authority (PIA).

Intermediaries who comply with the code of practice can be registered with the Insurance Brokers Registration Council (IBRC) and may legally describe themselves as 'insurance brokers'. Brokers whose life insurance, pensions and unit trust business does not exceed 49 per cent of their total income may obtain authorisation to carry out such business from IBRC as a Recognised Professional Body (RPB).

Depending on the level of authorisation under PIA the firm may carry out activities where money is paid to the firm for investment purposes on behalf of clients. Brokers authorised through IBRC are not permitted to handle client money in this way.

Some intermediaries such as solicitors and accountants whose main business is not that of giving advice and selling investments may be granted authorisation by a Recognised Professional Body such as the Law Society or the Institute of Chartered Accountants. In all cases the authorising body has rules and regulations for the conduct of business and dealings with investors.

Intermediaries are normally remunerated by commission paid to them by the life companies.