In this week’s blog, we discuss the recently announced Enforcement Conduct Authority (ECA) framework and explain what this means for the enforcement industry and why Bristow & Sutor fully supports this latest initiative.
What is the ECA?
Last month, the Centre for Social Justice and a working group comprised of representatives from the Enforcement industry and the debt advice sector delivered a new report, Taking Control for Good, which set out the framework and recommendations for the establishment of an independent body to oversee civil enforcement activity. The Enforcement Conduct Authority (ECA) intends to implement and administer behaviour standards, as well as provide an improved complaints process and point of escalation, for all firms operating in the civil enforcement sector.
The oversight body will be funded by the industry but retain strict independence from the enforcement and debt advice sectors. In conjunction with CIVEA, the ECA will have the objective of raising standards, improving accountability, adjudicating complaints via a simplified two-stage process and enhancing support for vulnerable people. The ambition is to develop new binding rules and set minimum standards that will replace the current National Standards, with the power to impose sanctions for non-compliance.
While there is currently no timeline on the establishment of the ECA and appointment of key personnel, Bristow & Sutor will continue to keep clients and partners informed of progress as the initiative develops. The Taking Control Campaign has been working for greater regulation of the Enforcement industry for the past four years and we welcome the proposals as an endorsement of the work we have already been doing, ensuring the highest standards within our organisation remain prevalent at all times.
Aligning existing approaches
In 2018, Bristow & Sutor established an Independent Advice Panel (IAP) to act as an additional provider of oversight and a final escalation point for complaints that were not addressed to the complainant’s satisfaction by our internal process. This Panel has also supported our commitment to continually developing training provisions, supporting vulnerable customers and the accessibility of our processes.
The IAP is formed of five members, all from across the financial sector including consumer credit and debt advice providers. We have seen success thanks to this independent source of oversight on day-to-day and strategic operations within the business and conduct meetings with the Social Responsibility & Customer Welfare Manager and the CEO regularly.
The proposals for the ECA mirror much of the guidance we have sought from outside of civil enforcement to ensure we continue to Lead the Way, both in reviewing our behaviour and ensuring we continue to achieve top collection rates. We have recently reviewed our complaints process as a whole and participated in a project to ensure the accessibility, clarity, and equity of the process from point of complaint through to resolution. The IAP have also reviewed our training and development for customer-facing teams, undertaking call listening to identify service quality needs and points for further improvements. Bristow & Sutor has undoubtedly benefited from this reformed approach and we advocate the successful outcomes that can be achieved in this way. We believe that adopting the framework proposed by the ECA across the industry is a positive and will prove a beneficial next step for all involved.
Bristow & Sutor remains committed to fostering the best environment for staff, clients and customers. We are wholly committed to positive industry developments and ensuring we stay Cool, Calm and Collected.