In this weeks Leading the Way blog, we reflect on the return of face-to-face industry gatherings, discuss some of the recent events we have attended and consider why this remains an important aspect of consolidating and sharing knowledge and best practice.
During lockdown, the enforcement industry had no choice but to transition to online and virtual environments, but physical events continue to make a comeback heading into 2022. Bristow & Sutor has always been an advocate of technology and we embraced this unique time to adopt digital environments, including hosting webinars and offering added flexibility so that interested personnel could join our discussions from home or wherever they may be.
Efficient Covid protocols and hand sanitising stations are now commonplace in public spaces with physical events now often featuring additional elements such as lanyards or wrist bands to indicate social distancing or if happy to shake hands. Adapting post-pandemic is still high on the agenda but it is clear from our recent experiences that returning to face-to-face events is having a positive impact on networking capabilities and raising awareness around fundamental topics of discussion.
Discrete conversations between individuals are normally a feature of industry meetups and this ensures a candid understanding of differing views can be obtained. There is also an opportunity when exhibiting in-person to promote approaches and solutions, both related to the services a business provides and also partners and initiatives for the greater good.
Raising awareness and fostering conversations
Bristow & Sutor Social Responsibility and Customer Welfare Manager, Helen Addis, sits on the North West Committee for the Money Advice Liaison Group and attended last week’s MALG Annual Conference alongside Daniel Moore, Solutions Manager – Revenues. Bristow & Sutor were one of the sponsors of the event held at No. 11 Cavendish Square, London, which aims to provide helpful insight and encourage working together to improve the lives of people in debt. The conference has been a mainstay in debt advice and wider sectors since 1987, regularly attracting over 200 delegates from across the credit and debt landscape. In 2020, the MALG Conference was replaced by the MALG Virtual Summit, held via Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Last month, we invited our charity partner, The Money Charity, to exhibit alongside Bristow & Sutor at the IRRV Annual Conference and Exhibition at the Telford International Centre. As well as generating additional support streams, attendance at this event fostered conversations with an audience of local authority professionals and key personnel involved in the improvement of Financial Wellbeing within regional communities.
As a result, we obtained 53 nominations from individuals to help support local community projects, ranging from education and children’s settings to adult settings and large housing associations. These are the types of outcomes that can be achieved from face-to-face events and we aim to continue supporting the charity beyond financial donations in this way.
Broadening our reach
Bristow & Sutor also attended the LACEF Conference that was held on 21st October at the Principal Hotel in York. Daniel Moore, Adrian Lardner, Rob Neil and Steph Batt all visited the conference in person, which had a high number of delegates attending with most Enforcement Agencies and around 70 Local Authorities represented. Feedback from our team and others that we spoke to was that it was energising to see peers in person again and inspiring to visit a beautiful venue.
The conference provided an excellent platform for sharing ideas and networking opportunities, and we had the opportunity to speak with some of our existing and prospective clients to introduce ourselves, promote services and gain further insight through conversations not possible during virtual events. Interesting talks and debates on the day included topics such as post covid debt management, digital inequalities in Civil Enforcement, enhancing Council Tax recovery through the sharing of data with HMRC, the use of AI and how analytics can identify affordability and vulnerability.
Darren Bell and Paul Kyte were also on hand as Bristow & Sutor recently exhibited at the Workplace Parking Levy & Clean Air Schemes Conference organised by Landor Links and our client Nottingham City Council. This was well attended by many Local Authorities and centred around sustainability in travel, as well as promoting the amazing outcomes achieved in the Nottingham region through the Workplace Parking Levy introduction. There were also presentations delivered by another of our clients, Bath Council, who were the first Local Authority to successfully deliver a Clean Air Zone outside of London. The main topic of conversation at the Bristow & Sutor stand was Clean Air and other plans to ensure cities are implementing and delivering the best options moving forward.
Our commitment to events is intrinsically tied to our support of vulnerable members of society and ensuring we are best placed to help over-indebted people achieve meaningful changes in circumstances. The insight gained from these events, gained by collaboratively discussing ideas and solutions, helps us to consider the different challenges many people currently face and how we can ensure our approach is efficient, firm and fair.
Networking in this manner is unique and bringing together high-profile keynote speakers, exploring innovative exhibitors and sharing findings with other attendees at industry events remains incredibly important to our approach and achieving our goals. We are also pleased to see awards ceremonies making a comeback physically and look forward to attending the Credit & Collections Technology Awards this week, where we are shortlisted for Innovation in Collections & Recoveries, Best Use of Technology in Credit & Collections and Digital Business Transformation categories.
Bristow & Sutor anticipates attending more physical events in 2022 as we continue to strive to be recognised as Cool, Calm and Collected.