MALG Conference 2023 Session Synopses
Keynote Speaker: Lexi Mills, CEO, Shift6 Global (sponsored by Angel Advance)
The Shifting Landscape of Debt: Exploring the Impact of Technology and the Internet on Changing Demographics.
In today’s digital age, the way we manage and experience debt has undergone a profound transformation, largely driven by technology and the internet. Lexi will explore the role of these in reshaping our financial behaviors, while also addressing the diversity of consumers impacted by our interconnected digital world.
She will use data and real-life examples to highlight how the increase of direct-to-consumer tools, such as chatbots, social media, and AI have significantly influenced financial decision-making and overall financial well-being. She will demonstrate the role of algorithms in shaping consumer behaviour and the importance of evolving digital legislation and literacy to support both consumers and professionals in this area.
This talk aims to provoke thoughtful discussions about the challenges, biases, and opportunities of technology and how we can better navigate this landscape in years to come.
Regulatory Keynote: Jonathan Phelan, Head of Department – Retail Lending, Financial Conduct Authority
Jonathan will be exploring the challenges that both firms and consumers are facing with the rising cost of living. This will include looking at data and insights from FCA’s Financial Lives survey which, as a tracking survey involving up to 20,000 consumers, provides important insights about consumers’ attitudes to money, their experiences with firms and the products & services that they engage with. Jonathan will also talk about how the FCA’s Consumer Duty encourages firms to focus on delivering good outcomes for consumers, particularly in the debt markets; so that consumers get support that is tailored to their needs, experiences and preferences.
Breakout 1a: Gen Z Money Management & Debt: Adapting to Younger People’s Needs (sponsored by Acquired.com)
Younger generations are approaching money management and debt in a completely new way, having grown up with digital tools embedded into their way of life and with different perceptions about things like personal finances, car/home ownership and mental health. In this session, we will discuss how creditors, collections/enforcement firms, debt advisers and others across the debt landscape can adapt to accommodate for their ever-changing needs and habits.
Breakout 1b: Adviser-Creditor Communication: Channel Choice or Just Channel Shift?
With new technologies emerging to streamline customer comms, we’re told we’re in an age of ‘channel choice’. But for advisers trying to contact creditors on behalf of their clients, it feels like more of a channel shift – and not a good one in terms of accessibility. Chatbots have replaced phone numbers and email addresses are almost non-existent with energy companies in particular seeming to go backwards in this area. Older generations are also excluded, creating a digital divide. In this session we’ll ask why creditors aren’t making it easier for advisers to get in touch and what needs to change in all parties’ interests under the new Consumer Duty.
Breakout 1c: The Changing Approach to the Enforcement of Council Tax
In this session, industry experts from local government and the enforcement sector will share their experiences and challenges with enforcement of council tax arrears post pandemic and during a time of increased costs of living. This will include new ways of working, customer support strategies and what the debt advice sector should look out for in 2023 and beyond.
The Big Debate: Inequality and the Link Between Financial, Mental and Physical Health
The link between debt and mental health is now well documented but, post-pandemic and during the cost of living crisis as inequality continues to grow, we are increasingly seeing the inter-connected issues around both physical and mental health that even mild forms of financial difficulty can bring. Will the new Consumer Duty help to address this? How do we better integrate services and support? How do we ensure that support for vulnerable customers takes all forms of inequality into account? Do things like the poverty premium, rent and mortgage rates have an unequal impact on different generations? The Chair and panel will discuss all this and more with delegates.
Breakout 2a: The Cost of Living on the Breadline: Income Maximisation to Make Ends Meet
We know that there are a growing number of people with deficit budgets which no amount of income maximisation can address but what can be done to ensure that low income households are getting all the support they need before they fall into financial difficulty? With rising costs and stagnant wages, there’s a new demographic of people who’ve never been in debt before and have no experience or knowledge of what help is available and how to access it. In this session, we’ll discuss what more could be done to maximise household income as a ‘prevention rather than the cure’ solution to financial destitution.
Breakout 2b: The Ageing Population: Debt Amongst Older Generations
Older generations can no longer be served with a ‘one size fits all’ approach in 2023. While some are tech-savvy BNPL users, others are digitally excluded from vital services. In this session we’ll look at the gap in debt solutions for asset rich-cash poor ‘Baby Boomers’, how the elderly are impacted by mortgage rates, what pensions now look like, and what the impact is on carers of older relatives when it comes to money management and debt.
Breakout 2c: Behavioural Science & Debt: How Different Generations Approach Money Management
There is ample research on financial decision-making both pre and post-arrears but the emotional aspects of money management and debt which impact financial resilience can look very different for different age groups and demographics. In this session, we’ll discuss what more could be done to understand this so that financial education, products, marketing and advice can be designed to encourage a positive and effective money mindset for those scrolling tiktok to the digitally excluded.
Interactive ‘Catch Box’ Session: The Future of Debt Advice: How Can We Take Advantage of AI?
The MALG Conference 2023 will close with a ‘bang’ as we pull out the pink ‘catch box’ microphone and get the audience involved in a quick-fire discussion about the potential of artificial intelligence to address the lack of debt advice capacity by enabling and supporting advisers to offer more effective human support to the right people in the right place at the right time. We’ll identify ways to overcome the cons while highlighting the pros to paint a picture of how debt advice can become fit for the future.