Insolvency Practitioners Association Announces Appointment of Michelle Thorp as Chief Executive

The Insolvency Practitioners Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Thorp as Chief Executive with effect from 10 September.

Michelle joins the IPA from the Department for International Trade where she was Digital, Data and Technology lead and a major project leader for the Cabinet Office, specialising in strategic organisational change.

Michelle has almost twenty years’ experience dealing with senior government departments which will be invaluable given the IPA’s role in developing the regulatory framework under which all Insolvency Practitioners operate.

Commenting on her appointment, Michelle said: “I’d like to thank Liz for her stewardship of the organisation over the past 6 months. I take over the helm with the IPA in a great place from which to regulate according to the highest standards and deliver services our members need. In particular, I’d like to thank everyone involved in the recruitment process, which Liz led.

I am looking forward to continuing the role of supporting our members and guiding then through the regulatory framework within our industry. We will continue to develop our training programs and other member support services and I intend using the most up to date technologies to further enhance the way in which we deliver that learning and support to our members.”

Liz Bingham OBE, interim CEO said: “Following an exhaustive and rigorous recruitment campaign, the Board were delighted to offer the position to Michelle who has unparalleled experience of leading teams and running businesses within a regulatory environment. Michelle brings a dynamism and insight that will propel the IPA through the challenges and changes ahead.”

Lloyd Hinton, IPA President, added: “I was closely involved in the recruitment process and I am delighted that Michelle has accepted the role. Michelle brings an exceptional wealth of experience, energy and enthusiasm and will help me and the Board drive the change that is necessary at this critical point in the IPA’s history. On behalf of the Board and our Members, I extend the warmest of welcomes to Michelle and I look forward to working with her.”

Business Rates & Bailiff threats: SMEs need to plan ahead

In reaction to new figures by Altus Group, that show “81,000 companies have struggled to pay their business rates, with bailiffs sent to 222 premises across England every day in 2017-18”, Chirag Shah, CEO & Founder, Nucleus Commercial Finance, comments: “Despite SMEs being the backbone of our economy, they have faced excessive increases in tax payments since the revaluation of business rates in April 2017. Government policies cater to bigger enterprises that squash the success of emerging ones and we urge Chancellor Philip Hammond to address this issue in his upcoming Autumn Budget Statement – ensuring that smaller enterprises, as well as our economy, do not suffer.

Alongside this we urge businesses to plan for their tax more effectively, thinking ahead and putting the finance aside to pay these crucial bills. The effects of not doing so can be devastating with assets being seized by bailiffs or SMEs being forced out of business. If it comes to this business owners need to know that there are financial options out there that can give them some breathing space. We believe that with the right policy landscape and financial support, smaller businesses can continue to demonstrate their expertise and fuel the UK’s economic growth.”

Surprise drop in consumer CCJs

The total number of county court judgments (CCJs) registered against consumers in England and Wales fell year-on-year for the first time in five years during the first half of 2018, according to figures released today by Registry Trust.

Registry Trust is the Registrar of Judgments, Orders and Fines in England and Wales (on behalf of the Ministry of Justice). In addition, it collects, verifies and publishes judgment information from jurisdictions throughout the British Isles and Ireland. A judgment is incontrovertible proof that debt has not been managed successfully.

Credit reference agencies licensed by the Trust receive daily updates on judgments. This information affects lenders’ readiness to offer credit and can lead to difficulties with loans and mortgages as well as higher borrowing costs.

During Q1 and Q2 2018, 571,555 judgments were registered against consumers in England and Wales, falling four percent compared to the first half of 2017. This bucked a five year trend where the total number of judgments registered during Q1 and Q2 had risen year-on-year.

The average CCJ dropped three percent to £1,460, the lowest average since current records began in 2008. By contrast the average judgment registered during the first half of 2008 was £3,867 – over two and a half times more.

As a result of these changes, the total value of consumer CCJs in the half-year fell by seven percent.

In the High Court 105 judgments (HCJs) were registered against consumers in Q1 and Q2 2018. The total value of HCJs soared by almost £110m to £132.5m. The scale of this increase was largely owed to a single judgment worth £84.5m. By contrast, the median HCJ stood at £29,528.

In Q1 and Q2 2018 Registry Trust received 109,821 requests to search the register for England and Wales online at www.trustonline.org.uk. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against businesses and consumers throughout the British Isles and Ireland.

Commenting on the trends, Malcolm Hurlston CBE said, as Registrar: “The number and value of judgments are affected by both the financial status of borrowers and the decisions of lenders and others at what level to go for a judgment. Over recent years creditors have been pursuing lower value sums and it may be that we are seeing the end of that trend as the same time as better consumer financial health.”

 

Statistics

● CCJs against consumers Q1 and Q2 2018 (compared with Q1 and Q2 2017)
o Total: 571,555 (down four percent)
o Total value: £834.2m (down seven percent)
o Average: £1,460 (down three percent)
o Median: £609 (down 14 percent)

● High Court judgments against consumers Q1 and Q2 2018
o Total: 105 (up 54)
o Value: £132.5m (up £108.3m)
o Average: £1,261,798 (up £787,371)*
o Median: £29,528 (down £64,140)
● Adjusted High Court judgments against consumers Q1 and Q2 2018**
○ Total: 104 (up 53)
○ Value: £48.0m (up £23.8m)
○ Average: £461,430 (down three percent)

Business debt soars

The total value of adverse county court judgments (CCJs) against businesses recorded in England and Wales rose sharply during the first half of the year, according to figures released today by Registry Trust.

Registry Trust is the Registrar of Judgments, Orders and Fines in England and Wales (on behalf of the Ministry of Justice). In addition, it collects, verifies and publishes judgment information from jurisdictions across the British Isles and Ireland.

Registry Trust provides its licensed credit reference agencies with regular updates on outstanding judgment debts. This information affects the ability of all enterprises to borrow.

In Q1 and Q2 2018, 63,452 CCJs were registered against businesses in England and Wales. Rising 19 percent compared to the same period of 2017, this was a six year high.

Compared to the same period of 2017, the average value of an adverse business CCJ rose by 38 percent to £3,953. Combined, these changes resulted in a 64 percent increase in the total value of CCJs.

A single £50 million corporate judgment in Q2 2018 distorted the scale of this increase; but, excluding it, the average value of judgments against all businesses still rose by 11 percent, the total value against all businesses rose by 32 percent and the total value of company judgments also increased by 32 percent.

A 30 percent increase in the value of judgments against generally smaller, unincorporated businesses, bucked the downward trend for the first half of the year for the first time since 2009.

In the High Court 50 judgments were issued, 26 more than during the first half of the previous year. However, the average value plummeted, dropping by 85 percent to £635,945. This decline in value was due in part to two large value judgments totalling £81.4 million inflating figures in the first quarter of 2017. As a result, there was a 69 percent decrease in the total value of High Court judgments.

As well as distributing judgment information under strict licensing to leading credit reference agencies, Registry Trust makes the public information widely available through TrustOnline.

There were 109,821 public requests to search the register for England and Wales online during Q1 and Q2 2018. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against businesses and consumers in jurisdictions across the British Isles and Ireland.

On behalf of TrustOnline, Malcolm Hurlston CBE, chairman of Registry Trust said: “These figures can be seen as a warning to businesses to pay debts on time. If they don’t, lenders may well be showing an increasing propensity to take them to court for debt and leave a lasting mark on their records.”

Statistics

● CCJs against all businesses Q1 and Q2 2018 (compared with Q1 and Q2 2017)
o Total number: 63,452 (up 19 percent)
o Total value: £250.8m (up 64 percent)
o Average value: £3,953 (up 38 percent)*
· Median: £1,028 (up nine percent)
·
· Adjusted CCJs against all businesses**
o Total number: 63,451 (up 19 percent)
o Total value: £200.8m (up 32 percent)
o Average value: £3,165 (up 11 percent)

● CCJs against companies (incorporated businesses) Q1 and Q2 2018
o Total number: 47,912 (up 29 percent)
o Total value: £198.0m (up 77 percent)
o Average value: £4,132 (up 37 percent)
Median value: £956 (up six percent)

· Adjusted company CCJs**
o Total number:47,911 (up 29 percent)
o Total value: £148.0m (up 32 percent)
o Average value: £3,089 (up three percent)

● CCJs against unincorporated businesses Q1 2018
o Total number: 15,540 (down four percent)
o Total value: £52.8m (up 30 percent)
o Average value: £3,401 (up 36 percent)
o Median value: £1,186 (up 18 percent)

● High Court judgments against businesses Q1 and Q2 2018
o Total number: 50 (up 26)
o Total value: £31.8m (down 69 percent)
o Average value: £635,945 (down 85 percent)
o Median: £8,170 (down 95 percent)

Gary Jennison appointed Chairman of Lantern Debt Recovery Services Ltd.

Lantern, which has helped over 2 million people find a way out of debt they owe since 2008, today announced the appointment of veteran banking executive Gary Jennison as Non-Executive Chairman. William Ballmann, partner at Gateley PLC, who has been serving as Non-Executive Chairman of Lantern since 2016, will remain on the Board as a Non-Executive Director.

With over thirty years’ experience in banking and lending, Jennison was most recently CEO Europe at The Warranty Group. Prior to this he was Group Deputy CEO for Together Finance.

He is currently Non-Executive Chair of Orchard Finance PLC and Non-Executive Director of Admiral Financial Services.

In addition to Jennison, Lantern has also confirmed a series of further senior appointments:

  • Matt Subert has been hired as Acquisition Director. He joins from Moriarty Law where he has been Sales Director for the past two years and will sit on the board of Lantern as an Executive Director
  • Danielle Hatcher has been appointed as Director of Operations, joining from Royal & Sun Alliance
  • Chris Brown joins from Provident Financial as Director of Audit, Risk and Compliance
  • Craig Harris has been appointed as Director of Pricing and Analytics having previously worked at Lowell/BW Legal

Commenting on the appointments, Denise Crossley, Chief Executive Officer of Lantern said: “These are significant and highly experienced additions to our business. Together, their skillsets and decades of work in the industry enable us to dramatically increase our coverage, purchasing power and capabilities for our customers.

“All five appointments strengthen our Board and Executive team, allowing us to accelerate our growth towards being the largest niche purchaser in the high cost and HCST sectors.

In addition to the appointments, Lantern has also announced that founders Neil Petty and Barnaby Page will be stepping down from the Board and relinquishing all executive responsibility in the firm. Both will remain Directors of Copper Street One Ltd and remain shareholders of Lantern, where their input will remain invaluable to the management of the firm to continue to build Lantern into a market leading debt purchaser.

Personal insolvencies to hit 105,000 by 2022 – reaching highest level since 2012

Personal insolvencies are on track to hit 105,000 per annum by 2022, breaking highs last seen six years ago, according to the latest econometric forecast from Arrow Global’s ‘Debt Britain 2018’ research.

Analysis shows that personal insolvencies have been on the increase since 2015 and rising interest rates on the back of the Bank of England base rate rise is fuelling the acceleration says Arrow Global. This is despite a slight dip in 2019 due to the lagged effect of the post-Brexit referendum bank base rate cut and subdued unemployment rate.

From analysis of the Office for Budget Responsibility projections for interest rates, unemployment and consumer debt, Arrow Global also identified that the performance of insolvencies has been worse than that of debt defaults and repossessions in recent years. This development could be to the result of an increased willingness of people to address excessive debt through a formal arrangement with creditors.

Lee Rochford, Group chief executive officer of Arrow Global comments: “A worrying trend has been identified in our analysis with 105,000 people a year forecast to become personally insolvent by 2022.

“Insolvency is a devastating situation for anyone to experience. As an industry we are leading the way so that consumers understand how to manage their finances without taking on more debt than they can afford to repay. As a responsible credit management services provider we focus on helping people manage and repay their debt in a sustainable way, and our partnerships with Citizens Advice, Christians Against Poverty, StepChange and Payplan all play a crucial part in educating our customers about debt.”

Leading Debt Recovery Company Wins International Finance Award

A world-beating debt recovery agency based near Porthmadog in North Wales is delighted to win a prestigious International Finance Award (IFA) – especially as nominated globally by its industry peers.

CCI Credit Management Ltd (CCICM) is voted the UK’s best international debt collection agency, following expert panel analysis by industry leaders and a poll among up to 180,000 finance magazine readers worldwide.

CCICM is a small/medium-size and family-owned agency with its head office in Gwynedd – but it recovers debts of hundreds of millions annually for its UK and global clients. These include multi-nationals, lenders, governments and their departments, major health, social care and Higher Education bodies, public utilities, and many SMB/Es.

A CCICM director, Mr Carl Hackman, says its clients also benefit from the company being the founder, owner, operator, and exclusive UK member of the International Credit Exchange (ICE) – the world’s leading, largest, and most regulatory-compliant network of collection agencies in 130 countries.

Mr Hackman says of their IFA from publisher Acquisition International: “CCICM is naturally delighted to win this prestigious award, especially as chosen by our finance industry peers! Our clients and their customers expect and deserve the best debt recovery solution. Constantly striving to improve and to deliver on their expectations is central to our success.

“We would like to thank all who voted for us. We work incredibly hard to drive standards forwards and, while we and our clients know that, it’s fantastic that our peers also appreciate it. We have won several other industry awards in recent years and all are testament to our overall philosophy, culture, and practice!”

CCICM and its ICE Member network specialise in managing high-value, international, commercial accounts – litigating where necessary – as well as recovering consumer domestic debts, both in the UK and overseas.

Earlier this year, CCICM appointed its first senior in-house legal counsel to manage such corporate cases, especially business insolvency, re-structure, and turnaround.

Mr Hackman says: “While we now specialise in complex, cross-border, and high-value cases, we remain the undisputed market leader in health and social care collections, with 80% of UK NHS trusts, health boards, and private hospitals as our clients. In the Higher Education sector, we act for many universities and colleges, recovering loans, tuition fees, and accommodation debts from UK and overseas students.”

He adds that a few other aspects of CCICM’s business – namely client service, value-for-money, regulatory compliance, and investment in staff – have helped it stay ahead since the firm was founded 35 years ago.

“We offer a bespoke service tailored to clients’ individual needs. Our flexible approach, coupled with specialist teams of expert collectors, negotiators and litigators, ensures clients enjoy the highest possible recovery ratios.

“We always offer them the best value-for-money solution, based on our ‘no-win no-fee’ pricing model around the world, as well as our highly-competitive rates with no set-up fees or hidden costs.

“Clients’ data and reputation are also safe with us because we never compromise on quality. Our data and management systems meet the highest, best-practice, compliance standards and we deliver these worldwide,” says Mr Hackman.

He says this approach means CCICM has enjoyed double-digit growth for the past five years, with over 16% achieved for the last year, and that the company now employs around 60 local staff with Investors In People accreditation.

“Given our relatively remote location in stunning Snowdonia – where many sectors can struggle to recruit excellent staff – we do surprisingly well! We attract enough talent to key roles and then impart our knowledge and experience to existing staff through on-the-job and external training,” explains Mr Hackman.

Qualco UK continues its tennis lending library support

Qualco UK has continued its pledge to support a tennis lending library for two Birmingham schools. In association with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Qualco launched the library in summer 2016 in a pioneering scheme that enables students to borrow and use the equipment to play tennis in their own time at home or in their local park with their families.

This year Qualco committed further funds to buy more equipment for the library, in addition to offering ten students centre court tickets at the Nature Valley Classic. Students were selected as part of an end of year recognition for their service and efforts in sport back at school.

The Nature Valley Classic is a WTA Premier level women’s tennis tournament which attracts world-class players to compete in both singles and doubles. Previous champions include Billie Jean King, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova.

Head of Development at Core Academy, Cathy O’Driscoll said: “This was a fabulous opportunity for all involved to watch international class tennis and soak up the atmosphere. Students from Central Academy had a great time at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. Thanks to Qualco for the opportunity of free tickets, they were delighted to watch such great play and are determined to go again next year.”

Christian Jacob, Managing Director at Qualco UK said, “We are delighted to continue our support of the tennis equipment lending library, which was hailed as a great success last year and continues to be a popular resource for Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary School. It was a pleasure to reward the most engaged students and hope that it will encourage more pupils to get involved in tennis in their spare time. We look forward to seeing the results over the next 12 months.”

CSA recognised for ‘outstanding’ levels of customer service by the IIC

The Credit Services Association, the voice of the UK debt collection and debt purchase sectors, has registered ‘outstanding’ customer service levels in its first ever assessment under the independent Investor in Customers (IIC) assessment process.

In being granted a Silver Award, the CSA had to demonstrate a strong desire to meet its members’ needs. It was especially strong in the sub category of ‘delighting’ its members, and ‘engendering loyalty’ where it was recognised for building quality relationships and attained a Gold standard in both of these sub categories.

Comments from members included: “Good service, clear user-friendly information, great people”;
“The CSA provides excellent advice and resources. We are kept up to date with any industry changes or new requirements”; “The CSA is a valuable service that champions on our behalf at times when we may not have a voice”; and “I would have no hesitation in recommending the Association to others, and have already done so on a few occasions.”

IIC is an independent assessment organisation that conducts rigorous benchmarking exercises. These exercises determine the quality of customer service and relationships across a number of dimensions, including how well a company understands its customers, how it meets their needs and how it engenders loyalty. IIC also compares and contrasts the views of staff and senior management to identify how embedded the customer is within the company’s thinking.

Peter Wallwork, Chief Executive of the CSA is delighted with the Award: “As a trade association we thrive on supporting our members with a best-in-class service and representation at the highest levels of government. To be recognised by the IIC for the way in which we deliver our service is a great accolade and a tremendous reflection on the hard work, dedication and commitment of the head office team.”

Sandy Bryson, Director at IIC commented: “I am delighted Investor in Customers (IIC) has accredited the Credit Services Association (CSA) with a silver award in the first assessment of its customer experience. The CSA members and its staff both recognised that the CSA is providing an outstanding level of customer experience to its members across all four of the principles used in IIC’s assessment methodology. This is a great achievement. As with most companies we assess, the results showed some areas for improvement, which has been acknowledged and, in conjunction with IIC, has planned to address in order to aim for gold accreditation next time around.”

European Women Payments Network conference returns to Amsterdam

Following a hugely successful inaugural event in 2017, October 2018 sees the European Women Payments Network (EWPN) conference return to Amsterdam. The only pan-European Conference specifically focused encouraging and supporting diversity in FinTech and payments, the EWPN Conference will take place at the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam on 16th October, following an awards ceremony and dinner on the evening of 15th October. A 50% discount is available for tickets booked before 31st August 2018.

Featuring an impressive list of speakers, the conference is set to be even bigger, better and more valuable to all attendees. Speakers include the Director of Payments at Netflix; Head of Unit Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship at the European Commission; Director General of the Emerging Payments Association; and the Head of Financial and Business Services for the City of Amsterdam. Sponsors include ACI, Attra, Credorax, Paypal and Paysafe.

The European Central Bank, European Banking Authority, BrightTALK, Currencycloud, Payments & Cards Network and Western Union Business Solutions are also represented on the list of over 40 expert and inspiring female speakers from across the FinTech market. Topics to be covered in interactive panels, deep-dive workshops and plenary sessions include The Digital Revolution, Mental Health at Work, FinTech Funding, Financial Inclusion & Women – The Unbanked Woman and Fostering Diversity in FinTech.

Martha Meghendi-Fisher, Founder of the European Women Payments Network commented: “EWPN is committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry which celebrates and supports women’s achievements across the payments ecosystem, bringing together women from all EU/EEA member states, working in FinTech and payments.

“Our 2017 conference had a greater impact that we had expected and we are excited to be counting down to our second conference in October. We aim to create a positive arena where women can come together to discuss issues relating to Women in FinTech Leadership and inspiring future generations of girls into the sector.”