Editor's view from the conference:
There’s nothing like a bit of ‘meddling by the ministry’ to rub the industry up the wrong way and the latest noises coming from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills were no different.
More specifically it was the minister for employee relations, consumer and postal affairs, Ed Davey MP who irritated some delegates at the recent Insolvency Today conference when confirming he had been ‘persuaded of the case of reform’ with regards to industry regulation.
Despite this, I could help but think that some good could come out of this, particularly if the industry is consulted in a full and proper fashion.
R3 president Frances Coulson was right to champion the case for a consumer-facing marketing campaign to make people aware of how they can complain about issues relating to an insolvency case.
After all, there can be few justifiable arguments against findings that the current court process to challenge practitioner fees is not widely used - the numbers speak for themselves.
I’m not saying I agree practitioner fees are expensive and I certainly do not agree with suggestions that the industry is opaque and willing to hide away from the people affected by corporate insolvencies.
But to challenge the perceptions of the outside world – including the consumer press who see this industry as ‘a bunch of corporate undertakers’ – further dialogue is needed.
The discussion on the subject of 'moving to one regulator' at the conference was exactly what was needed – in an open forum and with everyone’s point of view considered.
If there is any doubt in the minister’s mind that there is a lack of consistency in complaints-handling and related sanctions between recognised professional bodies (RPBs) then this will affect the ultimate decision when changes to regulation are decided.
The only way we can achieve a fair outcome for the industry is to continue with an open dialogue between RPBs and the government departments.
We are heading into an important time for the industry, which has the potential to change the regulatory landscape forever, so lobbying, consultation and the timely formation of cohesive arguments are essential to ensure the industry comes out the other side stronger than before.