DRF Chairman outlines the new OFT consultation on training and how this will implicate on the industry and their ability to retain necessary licensees’
I am writing to update you concerning the Office of Fair Trading’s consultation on Debt Management Guidance and to share our plans for the future of the Certificate in Debt Resolution – and to seek your feedback on both.
Those who have read the OFT’s consultation document will now be aware how crucial training and independent monitoring will be to companies future ability to hold a consumer credit licence – and how this is likely to extend to lead introducers as well as debt solutions companies. There are many other issues to be addressed too – such as the appropriate payment of incentives to staff and agents and the use of the internet (in every sense, including Twitter and Facebook). We want your views on all the issues contained in the document.
The best way to let DRF know what you think is to leave your views and opinions in the appropriate section of DRF’s members-only forum. From next week we will, gradually, be leaving our initial views on each section of the document and, if you want your thoughts and opinions reflected in DRF’s final submission to the OFT, then you should keep an eye open for these postings and add your own thoughts.
The OFT consultation document makes it very clear that debt management/IVA lead introducers must be appropriately licensed and we know that the OFT is going to be holding debt solutions providers responsible for ensuring their lead introducers are appropriately licenced and compliant.
DRF recognises this could be a huge burden on firms and, to that end, we have introduced a new category of membership for lead introducers. Lead introducers supplying DRF firms will be invited to become members in this category and to volunteer for IPA annual monitoring – at their cost – which will ensure DRF members have a bank of lead introducers they can have confidence in using. Initially, we want to work with people you already trust and so would welcome introductions of lead introducing companies by members.
Please email Gaynor.Loughnane@debtresolutionforum.org.uk with contact details if you would like us to offer introducer category membership to any firm.
The OFT consultation emphasises just how vital (and unavoidable) externally accredited and examined training will be to any debt solutions company’s ability to get or retain a Consumer Credit Licence. Here’s what the document says:
“Applicants for standard licences wishing to provide debt advice, debt management and/or credit repair services will only be able to do so if they are able to demonstrate sufficient competence at the application stage by having relevant and demonstrable skills and knowledge. Licensees should have adequate training (see footnote 98) in place for staff, agents (such as self-employed debt advisers) and franchisees acting on their behalf to ensure they are sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to carry out their role, and are kept up to date with changes in relevant legislation and guidance.”
Footnote 98 then says:
“Examples of accredited training courses are those run by the Institute of Credit Management, the Institute of Money Advisers, the Money Advice Trust, Money Advice Scotland and the Debt Resolution Forum.”
So, adequate training – for all your customer-facing staff – is likely to be regarded as essential to demonstrate competence. It appears that only the four qualifications noted above are regarded as acceptable and, at the moment, it is only CertDR that is readily available to the fee-charging debt resolution sector.
Cert DR, with 115 holders and 270 ACTIVE students, is the biggest qualification in the sector – and we have plans to make it bigger – see our bold in the quote above. To meet the requirement for being up to date, DRF will be introducing a continuing professional development (cpd) scheme as soon as possible and CertDR holders will be obliged to complete a minimum amount of training annually in order to maintain their Certificate.
By 2012, we also hope to offer the opportunity for existing CertDR holders to study for a Diploma – by adding an additional assessed or examined module to their existing qualification. We hope to offer a number of specialisms and would like to get members views on what these might be. So far we’ve thought of:
- Advanced advisor (including helping people with learning difficulties, stress, mental illness, bereavement issues – and much more detail on benefits)
- Managing advisors (management and motivational skills, debt compliance issues, customer complaints)
- Creditor liaison and collection skills (DMP and IVA issues, data protection, helping clients in difficulty, good collection practices).
Please let us know what you think, again by going to the member-only forum and commenting on the appropriate thread.
Debt Resolution Forum Chairman