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The Analysis CSA

The UKCCC rocks Wembley

It was a new event, with impressive headliners and numerous expert panellists to discuss and debate a range of industry topics

Leigh Berkley President, The Credit Services Association

The new-styled UK Credit & Collections Conference 2015, organised by the Credit Services Association (CSA) was a success from start to finish. From the thoroughly enjoyable annual golf tournament and tour of Wembley stadium, through to the networking dinner and quiz, the first day and evening set the tone, creating a relaxed environment ahead of the serious debate that followed. In welcoming the 350 delegates to the

association’s 113th annual conference, I reminded them that this was the first to be held in London. Visitors from countries as far afield as the USA, South Africa and Turkey mixed with more local delegates and senior officials from other European trade associations and industry sectors to hear about the current developments in an ever-evolving credit and collections profession in the UK and beyond. Having set the scene, the rest of the day

forum for discussing such issues, and that the voluntary sector was in fact ‘letting its people down’. All appeared to agree that there was still more to be done, and even Mr Humphrys seemed impressed with the genuine commitment from the industry to see ‘debtors’ as ‘customers’, deserving of the highest standards of treatment. After the morning’s plenary, delegates

The debt collection industry and the advice sector praised each other for the work they have been doing in addressing the key issue of vulnerability

was ably hosted by one of the most respected and well-known broadcast journalists, John Humphrys, whose first task was to introduce fellow journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, who entertained delegates with a broad range of anecdotes from her time as a political reporter, including a brief and pointed rebuff from the former Labour ‘big beast’ John Prescott. Dr James Bellini, an eminent futurologist, warned the combined

industry not to pay too much heed to official GDP and growth forecasts, many of which, he said, could be ‘out’ by as much as 25%. Dr Bellini praised the industry for the work it had been doing in putting the customer first and its use of ‘smart’ technologies to improve the customer journey. He proposed that firms continued to take a ‘holistic’ approach to collections and customer service, to take into account both social and demographic challenges. Dr Bellini was followed by the first of two panel debates, the first

looking at the issue of customer vulnerability. The debt collection industry and the advice sector praised each other for the work they have been doing in addressing the key issue of vulnerability and supporting the most vulnerable customers who find themselves in debt. But, while the general consensus was one of guarded optimism, one delegate suggested that panel debates were not the proper

October 2015

went into their chosen streams, immediately before and after lunch, which were divided into six topical areas: technology and innovation; the customer experience; the regulatory agenda; debt sale and purchase; contingency and in-house collections; and a creditor’s perspective. They included an update on the FCA’s Thematic Reviews, the role of litigation in collections, and the next generation of customers. Other ‘hot topics’ included a review of the current I&E model (the CSA currently has a dedicated I&E working party to look at the issue) and the future of the commercial model for DCA remuneration.

Delegates were reunited in the afternoon, when Mr Humphrys

again took the floor to host a debate regarding the ‘regulated’ and the misleadingly called ‘unregulated’ collections industry. It especially focused on OFWAT’s initial requirement that DCAs working with water debt should all be FCA regulated, despite the FCA having no remit to regulate debt outside of the financial services arena. The debate again caused surprise from a number of corners, not least the host. No-one, it seemed, was satisfied with the current situation and, as a trade association, the CSA could only play an advisory role and steer those to its Code of Practice as a marker against which best practice should be measured. Whether the day would eventually come when the FCA took responsibility for regulating every part of the collections industry prompted a lively discussion. The conference ended in much the same way as it began, with a

celebration and a coming together of the industry at the Gala Dinner that this year also featured a number of recognition awards for excellence in learning and development, and another splendid performance by the Rick Parfitt Junior Band. CCR 11

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