OFT View On Training and DRF Conference Update

After the announcement a few days ago, it has been made clear standards of training will play a big part in the review of OFT’s debt management guidance.

It’s not long now until the industry – and the public – will hear the results of the Office of Fair Trading’s review of our industry and learn more about the probable changes to  the OFT’s debt management guidance. We’ve said for a while now that we think standards of training will be one focus. This was confirmed in our mind by the OFT’s announcement, a few days ago, that they’d refused a consumer credit licence to an individual who wanted to operate in the debt management marketplace partly because his training was inadequate.

We followed this up with the OFT – we wanted to know just what their current thinking on training was – and they gave us this statement:

“The OFT expects debt management businesses to have the right levels of competence to ensure that they operate with high standards of transparency and fairness, giving consumers the right individual advice and the right solutions, and that they offer fully effective redress of things go wrong.

When it comes to operating to the highest professional standards trade association members will be expected to lead the way.  To this end the OFT welcomes the introduction of DRF sponsored accredited training programmes and fully expects its members to honour their commitment to raise professional standards by fully participating in and improving levels of training throughout the industry.

The key competencies we assess when making our decision on a licensee are set out in section 25(2) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Paragraphs 2.6 – 2.11 of the document ‘Consumer Credit Licensing – General guidance for licensees and applicants on fitness and requirements’ (available from OFT website) sets out our risk based approach to assessing licence applications and the assessment we make of applicants and licensees competence.

In essence, we need to be assured that the applicant/licensee is competent to operate in what we consider to be a high risk market. This involves looking at the applicant’s skills, knowledge, experience and ensuring that appropriate business practices and procedures are in place.

We would expect applicants or licensees, whether they have the relevant experience or not, to have attended and fully participated in an accredited comprehensive training course, preferably offered or recommended by a recognised trade body.  Any trader, whether a new applicant, or an established business, that cannot demonstrate the requisite level of competence, skills and training will not be granted or allowed to retain its licence.”

The emboldening above is down to us, not the OFT – but we think we know what they mean – training is key and will become critical. No training, no consumer credit licence: This is one of the reasons why DRF has taken the trouble to become an accredited testing centre for BTECs – so we can keep the cost to members of our CertDR qualification as low as possible. You can find more details here:http://www.debtresolutionforum.org.uk/training.php.

We’ve good news about DRF’s annual conference on November 2 as well – 100 delegates have taken advantage of our early bird offer to sign up before 1 September and reserve their delegate places for just £99 plus VAT.

After September 1, delegate rates will be £125 plus VAT.  With only 10 weeks to go please be sure to book your place now if you haven’t already done so!

Speakers confirmed for this year’s event already include Nigel Cates, Deputy Director of Consumer Credit at the OFT and the Daily Express Columnist, Maisha Frost who is known for her crusades against commercial debt companies who have been caught out treating clients unethically and in some cases, illegally.



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