New joiners build on success of leading debt recovery team

A series of new appointments have been made within the industry-leading Taunton-based debt recovery team at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP.

The team is ranked in the Top Tier of Legal 500 and has recovered over £200 million for clients in the last ten years.

“Following a number of promotions earlier this year the team continues to go from strength to strength,” said Phil Roberts who jointly leads the debt recovery team together with Kat Quinton.

“The new joiners reflect the growth in business from both new and existing clients and will help Clarke Wilmott to maintain its position at the forefront of the debt recovery industry.”

Joe Hampson, Darren Brooks, and Lisa Cornelius start new positions as caseworkers and Shannon Robinson joins the IT support team.

“The new appointees will help to manage the team’s increasing workload for a variety of clients including regional and national commercial businesses, government departments, insurance companies and managing agents,” added Phil.

“Debt recovery is one of Clarke Willmott’s largest teams and plays an important role in the overall success of the company.”

Noble Systems Announces Key Appointments & Regional Growth Plans

Noble Systems, a global leader in omnichannel contact centre technology solutions, has seen amazing growth in the USA over the last few years and is looking to replicate this success throughout the globe. To support this strategy, the organisation has heavily invested in several senior appointments in Europe, Middle East, Africa & India regions.

The initial stages of this aggressive growth plan are already in place. Noble welcomed James Riley, VP Sales & Marketing EMEA & India, who joined at the end of last year, bringing with him extensive experience in company growth and expansion. In addition, in the last few months, the company has doubled its EMEA sales force, promoting Paul Wood to manage the existing Northern UK and Scotland sales team, plus bringing in Neil Titcomb to further expand the sales team in the Southern UK, Ireland and South Africa markets. Noble has also increased its footprint by opening a new office in London at Thomas House, near to Victoria station.

“This is such a fantastic time to be at Noble Systems and I’m delighted to be part of the driving force behind such a dynamic and ambitious organisation” said James Riley, “I’m confident that with the new structure, combined with the organisation’s innovative solution portfolio, it’s going to be an exciting time in terms of regional growth”.

Chris Hodges, Senior VP Sales & Marketing, said “We are very happy to have James on board and to expand our footprint with a new office in London. This strategic move, combined with James’ wealth of sales management experience and proven track record of large, multi-layered and multi-disciplined sales teams means that he will be a huge asset to the organisation. The new sales management team will help to build on the strength of our existing and new partnerships – driving regional growth and opening up new market opportunities”.

Scottish business confidence slides as no deal concern mounts

Scottish small business confidence has fallen sharply and businesses north of the border are amongst the most concerned in the UK about a no deal Brexit, new figures from the FSB show.

In the third quarter of 2018, FSB’s Scottish Small Business Confidence Index fell from +5.1 points to -13.2 points. UK-wide, the Index, which measures business owners’ assessment of business conditions, fell from +12.9 points to -1.7 points.

A separate FSB survey shows that 56 per cent of Scottish businesses believe a no transition, no deal Brexit would impact negatively on their business, whereas only 5 per cent believe it will have a positive impact. Of the remainder, 27 per cent of Scottish businesses believe such a move would have no impact, while 12 per cent of enterprises said they didn’t know.

Across the UK, 48 per cent of firms stated that they believe a no deal Brexit would impact their operations negatively. Only businesses in London have more significant concerns about a no deal Brexit than Scottish traders.

FSB Scotland Policy Chair Andrew McRae said: “The slide in business optimism over the last three months is perhaps unsurprising given the very public debate about the future of the UK outside of the EU.

“If you sell your products to the EU, buy goods from the EU or if your business relies on staff from the EU, you’ll likely to see a no deal Brexit as a significant threat to your business.

“Businesses in Scotland are more likely to have concerns about this outcome.”

Only one in seven (14%) Scottish and UK small businesses have starting planning for a no-deal Brexit, the research shows. Almost a third (31%) of Scottish businesses say they plan to decrease investment ahead of March 2019. Further, the Index also shows Scottish businesses reporting pressure on revenues and profits, alongside a spike in overheads – with the cost of fuel cited by many.

The Index states: “While it is unclear exactly what role the Brexit negotiations is having on confidence levels, it would be surprising if the uncertainty around markets, supply chains and staffing was not feeding through to consumer and business sentiment.”

Andrew McRae said: “Given the lack of clarity around future trading arrangements, it’s understandable that most Scottish small businesses haven’t yet starting preparing for a UK outside the EU.

“What’s more worrying to see is the number of firms planning to postpone investment because of the associated uncertainty. We also see falling revenues and profits, compounded by rising utility and fuel costs.

“The last three months of 2018 provide an opportunity for key decision makers to put our smaller business on a steadier footing. We must prepare our smaller firms for any change in trading conditions. They must do what they can to tackle spiralling overheads. We can’t crash out of the EU into a high-cost, low margin trading environment.”

CSA hails success of UKCCC

The Credit Services Association (CSA), the voice of the UK debt collection and debt purchase sectors, has hailed the success of this year’s UK Credit and Collections Conference Gala Dinner.

This year’s event took place at the newly refurbished four-star Crowne Plaza in Stratford-Upon-Avon on 13 September. The conference was divided into morning and afternoon plenary sessions, including a rousing address from CSA President John Ricketts, a panel debate on the potential opportunity and threat posed by Open Banking, and a keynote address by Nathalie Nahai on the psychological drivers required to effect change that ultimately lead to action.

The Gala Dinner, which included the Credit and Collection Technology Awards 2018 powered by Credit Connect, took centre stage in the evening session, hosted by ex-political adviser turned comedian Matt Forde.

A record number of entries were reported, with a shortlist of 110 finalists from nearly 80 companies across 18 categories, which are covered by four main headings of Credit, Collections, Credit & Collections services and Innovation. The awards recognise best-in-class business solutions across complex issues such as affordability, customer engagement and compliance, as well as teams and individuals.

Colleen Peel, Head of Marketing and Events at the CSA, says it was a memorable event: “A good conference will always deliver a surprise or two to keep delegates engaged, and this year’s gala dinner and awards was no exception.

“The Credit and Collection Technology Awards featured entries from some familiar names as well as relative newcomers to the industry, making them particularly diverse and exciting this year. We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the winners on the night.”

Arrow Global Appoints UK Head of Client Development

Arrow Global Group PLC, a leading European investor and asset manager in non-performing and non-core assets, is pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Tomlinson as UK Head of Client Development.

At Arrow Global, Tim’s focus will be on cultivating relationships with key UK creditor clients, collaborating closely with the business’ pan-European Origination team regarding on-going client developments and forthcoming transactions.

Tim has a successful track record of managing nationwide teams of business development professionals responsible for securing new clients, generating new revenue streams and launching new propositions into the market. Tim’s most recent role was Head of New Business at PwC, where he spent over 10 years in leadership roles in Sales & Marketing across the UK, and prior to that he worked in recruitment, during which time he built up a strong knowledge of the financial services industry.

Commenting on the appointment, Oliver Stratton, UK Country Manager, said: “Tim joins Arrow Global at an exciting time for the business. His experience in leadership roles in Sales, Marketing and Product Development is a welcome addition to our UK business. Tim’s track record of success will help ensure Arrow Global continues to be the industry leader, delivering positive outcomes for our UK clients.”

iPortalis launches Provisioning, Management and Billing Portal solution

iPortalis, a Cloud Services company specialising in ICT* brokerage and aggregation, today launches a comprehensive new software portal for the management of cloud services.

The iPortalis Control Portal (iCP) is a provisioning, management and billing control portal that automates many of the complex and time-consuming tasks associated with Employee Lifecycle Management**. It is used today by multi-national enterprises and over 90 service providers, including many of the world’s largest hosters such as Apptix, Tata and NTT.

Using the iCP, an organisation can self-manage its entire portfolio of cloud and on-premise services for all users, products, subsidiary companies and geographies through a single unified interface. The platform also manages software provisioning, moves, adds, changes, deletions, software license management, billing, governance and system/services consumption reporting. Using iPortalis’ powerful back-end provisioning and management software, system administrators can deploy new subscription-based services in minutes rather than days; health check their entire provisioning and management system with just a click of a button, remotely monitor system performance for any system, anywhere in the world, from a single screen, and debug their entire provisioning workflow with zero overhead.

Enhancements available within version 7.0 of the iPortalis Control Portal (iCP) include:

– An intuitive user interface with an improved look and feel
– Enhanced Office 365 integration
– A bespoke dashboard feature
– Fully integrated billing
– New connectors (including Sonian, Acronis Backup, Symantec.Cloud and Mandarine e-learning)
– An on-line marketplace (for the efficient and cost-effective purchasing of popular cloud products)

“Our new iCP Marketplace enables organisations to purchase the latest versions of popular cloud (and on premise) services, and assign them to individuals and groups of users across an entire organisation via a single user interface” said Eric Hanig, CTO, iPortalis. “The iCP also helps organisations manage their software licenses, meet their compliance obligations, and bill services on to subsidiaries and other corporate entities around the world – with each receiving a single invoice every month/quarter in their language and currency of choice. It currently supports 22 languages, every currency, and 54 payment gateways.”

“v7.0 of the iCP has been developed in response to the needs of our customers” said Neil May. CEO of iPortalis. “They asked us to build complex multi-currency aggregated billing into our platform, a feature not commonly available on other commercially-available control portal platforms. We have also created many other powerful and unique features: such as the ability to health check an entire provisioning and management system with just a click of a button, a full white label re-branding solution for resellers, and secure integration to multiple Active Directories (incl. Azure AD), identity management and HR solutions for automated subscription management and cost control. With these enhancements, we believe that the iCP is the most advanced portal of its kind”.

“As the world’s fastest growing Collaboration Services Provider, we are committed to delivering comprehensive, high quality services across all areas; from consultancy and architecture design to systems integration, security and service delivery” said Steve Schwartz, Vice President of Unified Communications, NORAM and Global, Arkadin. “We selected iPortalis after a lengthy investigation into commercially-available portal products. We were particularly impressed with the number and scope of leading cloud products supported by the iCP, the range of self-service features it offers to deploy and manage cloud and on-premise solutions and its flexibility to adapt to unique requirements. As a multi-national organisation that operates from 53 offices in 33 countries, the ability of the iCP to support multiple languages and currencies for internal billing was also key. Over time, we’ve been very pleased with the reliability of the platform and the regular and easy-to-access updates. We enjoy a very positive relationship with the iPortalis team who are quick to respond to any support issues and always keen to explore new functionality that will support our business needs.”

Qualco UK retains its ISO 27001 accreditation

Qualco UK has retained its ISO 27001:2017 certification by The British Assessment Bureau, having first achieved it three years ago.

ISO 27001 is the internationally recognised framework which helps organisations manage and protect their information assets so that they remain safe and secure at all times.  By achieving this certification, Qualco has demonstrated its commitment to data protection and continuous improvement. This is a crucial standard for Qualco with recertification occurring every three years.

The ISO 27001 certification allows Qualco to have an independently verified framework to apply across its business processes which identify, manage and reduce risks to information security and considers not only IT but all business operations.

The requirements cover all aspects of the organisation including senior management commitment to information security, compliance with the GDPR and Data Protection Act, and a demonstrable approach to continual improvement of the system.

Victoria Oliver, Head of Compliance for Qualco UK, commented, “We are delighted to retain this ISO certification from the British Assessment Bureau. Qualco takes a proactive approach to security as data and our customers’ data is pivotal to what we do. As technology continues to grow and evolve in the financial services sector, we work to ensure that our information security controls remain safe and effective.” 

Arrears are low, but we could see a shift as a result of rate rises and rise in high loan to income lending

Mark Pilling, Spicerhaart Corporate Sales managing director, says “The latest mortgage lenders and administrators statistics reveal that the proportion of total loans in arrears has continued to fall with the outstanding balance in arrears now £14.3 billion, compared to £14.8 billion in Q1 2018. And while this is positive, there is a danger we could see this trend start to shift over the next few months.

“As the base rate rise last month starts to affect people’s monthly payments – and with another rate rise on the cards before the end of the year- there is a danger that people could start to struggle with higher monthly mortgage payments.

“While the vast majority of new mortgages are fixed rate deals, so won’t be affected by rate rises, around half of all mortgage owners – around 4 million people – are on either variable rates or trackers. Many of these borrowers will have got used to managing their finances around historically low rates, and could now be worrying about their affordability.

“The stats also show that the number of high loan to income and 90% LTV loans have both increased, which means there are potentially more borrowers pushing themselves to their financial limits, which could affect their ability to pay if their circumstances change.

“Repossession should always be the last resort, so it is important that lenders continue to look at all the cases on their books and find ways to help any borrowers who are either already having difficulties managing their mortgage, or have concerns that affordability could become an issue down the line.”

Millennials taking on more debt, but don’t know interest rates

The UK’s younger generations have increased the amount of debt they owe over the last five years (Table 1). And worryingly, significant numbers don’t know how much interest they are paying (Table 3), according to the 2018 Debt Britain research from Arrow Global.

The findings reveal 40% of 18-24 year olds and 46% of 25-34 year olds have increased the overall amount of debt they owe over the past five years. In comparison, just 20% of 55+ year olds have increased their debt over the same period.

The younger generations are also most likely to take out short-term credit in the form of a payday loan with 12% using these services. This compares to just 7% of adults across all age groups.

Repaying debt on time is ‘very important’ to 69% of 18-24s and 70% of 25-34s, but significant numbers don’t know how much interest they are paying on their borrowings (Table 3). This lack of financial awareness could raise questions around the affordability of consumers’ future debt repayments especially if interest rates rise as many commentators expect them to do in the future.

When it comes to managing their finances, younger generations are not concerned about Brexit. 71% of 18-24 year olds and 67% of 25-34 year olds said the vote to leave the EU has not impacted their spending levels.

However, both age groups have already cut back on daily expenses to prioritise their loan repayments including eating out, holidays and clothes purchases.

The personal impact of debt is also felt most keenly amongst younger generations. Half of 25-34 year olds report trouble sleeping due to debt worries and almost a third (30%) said they had problems with personal relationships. One in five (21%) also said their output or productivity at work had suffered, and 28% of 18-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds reported mental health problems, a cause of concern for employers and UK plc that continues to suffer from low productivity rates – a key driver of economic growth.

Lee Rochford, Group Chief Executive Officer of Arrow Global comments: “The combination of rising debt levels and low awareness of interest rates among the Millennial generation is concerning and could be a precursor for future debt problems. Our research shows that debt has a detrimental impact not only on those struggling with their financial liabilities but also on their families and workmates.

“It is important consumers don’t ignore their debts and seek professional advice to help manage their finances and make the right choices in the future. As an industry we need to ensure that if consumers get into difficulty, they are provided with the best advice on how to manage their finances. As a responsible credit management services provider, we focus on helping people manage and repay their debt in a sustainable way.”

JBW Group Limited acquires shares in Court Enforcement Services Limited

JBW Group Limited has today announced it has acquired shares in Court Enforcement Services Limited (CESL), with funding provided by OUTSOURCING Inc. CESL will continue to be managed separately to JBW and will retain its brand and management team, led by Managing Director, Daren Simcox.

Simcox commented: “Court Enforcement Services has quickly become one of the UK’s leading High Court Enforcement service providers and has an exciting opportunity to grow further with the support of the right organisation. We found exactly what we have been seeking in JBW Group and parent company OUTSOURCING Inc., who will now provide the investment and infrastructure to assist us in scaling the business to meet the growing demand for our services. This is an exciting time in the development of our market, with the potential for legislative change to open up new areas where we can serve existing and new customers. Our combined capability will enable us to accelerate our growth plans and compete for a greater proportion of work from our core markets.”

Nick Tubbs, JBW Group Chief Executive commented: “We are delighted to welcome Court Enforcement Services to the JBW Group and OUTSOURCING Inc. family and pleased to have realised our long-term strategy to serve at scale the High Court Enforcement market and extend the Group’s capabilities into adjacent industries such as Utilities, and the broader markets for Debt Recovery Agencies through its customer-focused approach to court enforcement services. The modern, professional and pioneering culture at CESL is very closely aligned with our own, and the strong track record of the CESL team, together with our substantial investment in technology and customer processes, now provides the market with a new scale participant in the sector that is both highly innovative and competitive. While our two businesses will continue to be managed separately, and will retain their existing brands, there will be close collaboration and additional investment, and our increased scale and broader services will enable us to provide greater career opportunities for our employees. Through the combination of complementary skills and teams, we will be able to offer a complete range of collections, enforcement and debt recovery services to benefit our clients whilst accelerating best practice across both organisations.”