The annual conference for the Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA) was this year held at The Royal College of Surgeons. At a time when aspects of practitioners’ work and interaction with creditors are hot topics in terms of trust and potential regulatory reform, the event focused on public confidence.
Use of the media, and pre-pack administrations were the subject of the opening sessions, and David Kerr, Chief Executive of the Association, then went on to examine the planned reform of the complaints regime, highlighting the steps to be taken by the regulators working with Government to build greater independence and consistency in this important part of the regulation process. Some of this work has been led by the IPA, for example in respect of a soon to be published common sanctions guidance to reinforce consistency of disciplinary outcomes.
Philip King, Chief Executive of the Institute of Credit Management (ICM), then addressed the delegates, opening with a reminder to Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) of what was expected of them by the unsecured creditors, making the point that the most common complaint from unsecured creditors was the lack of communication. Philip did however make the point that creditors did not always help themselves as many did not make the effort to engage with IPs by joining creditors’ committees. He believed that if there were greater engagement between IPs and unsecured creditors from the initial appointment throughout the process then IPs would gain the trust of the creditor community.
Commenting after the conference, Philip said:
"The IPA conference presented a real opportunity for me to engage, on behalf of ICM members, with the IP community. Our objectives should be the same - to see the best return for all creditors from insolvencies - and this is best achieved by improving communication between credit professionals and IPs. It was great to hear so many common messages emerging through the day from the different stakeholders presenting."
Delegates then heard from the keynote speaker, Nick Howard, Director of Policy at the Insolvency Service. He examined how different stakeholder groups could contribute to improving confidence in the profession and expressed the view that the reforms to the complaints regime should go a long way to help to achieve this, not least because "the RPBs would be seen to dispense justice and apply sanctions". He went on to say that the Insolvency Service would play their part in the process as the oversight regulator, monitoring the performance of RPBs and encouraging an effective and transparent sanctions regime. Nick went on to explain to the delegates that the Government was looking for non-legislative means of introducing reform wherever possible, so that business was not burdened by more red tape.
In closing his speech Nick asked "if you could make one wish…..what would it be?" urging IPs to respond to the question in order to help guide future policy.
Speaking after the conference Nick said:
"The Insolvency Service believes that increasing confidence in the insolvency profession should be at the heart of any changes made to our regime. All stakeholders have a role to play in this, and our focus should be on differing interests working together to increase understanding and engagement""
Edward Bible, the new president of the IPA, commented:
"My aim during the next 12 months is to ensure that the IPA continues to maintain and enhance standards, control risk and communicate effectively with creditors and the public in order to increase public confidence in the insolvency profession."