MALG member the Credit Services Association (CSA), the UK trade body for the debt collection sector, launched a newly updated version of its Code of Practice at a stakeholder event at the House of Commons on 5 July, which was attended by MALG’s Bob Winnington.
The new revised continues to promote best practice in terms of collections activity, and also incorporates new Principles of Business on what the CSA expects of its members in terms of their business set-up, financial stability, employing people with the right skills, staff training, and most importantly, how they treat all customers fairly.
The CSA Code of Practice, first introduced in 1985, has over the years been through a considerable transformation. The Code was used by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to produce its own Debt Collection Guidance in 2003, which was further updated in 2006 and 2011 with strong influence from CSA. The Guidance now forms the basis of the FCA’s CONC rules.
The Code’s aim has always been to promote best practice in debt collection and across the debt purchase arena, regardless of the type of debt. However, with the introduction of the FCA’s regulation of consumer credit, a number of CSA member firms fell outside the FCA’s regime due to the specialist services they offer such as collection of utility or commercial debt.
“This meant that there was a vacuum in terms of consistent regulation and rules for that group of the membership, and we wanted to fill that space to ensure fair customer outcomes and a more even playing field,” said Sara de Tute, Board Director (Compliance) for the CSA.
“As the industry has evolved, so has our Code, and with the release of this new version we have incorporated elements of the FCA’s regulatory framework by introducing new Principles of Business and adding context and industry relevance to these Principles.”
Speaking at a formal launch at the House of Commons, John Ricketts, President of the CSA, said that the Code will continue to help drive standards: “The Code reinforces all elements of best practice,” he adds, “which in turn provides a high level of confidence for our members’ clients, their prospective clients, regulators, consumers and industry stakeholders.”
Following the launch, the implementation date for the new Code of Practice will be 1 January 2018 and the launch event will be repeated at the CSA’s UK Credit & Collections Conference in September 2017.