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MALG Conference 2023 Speakers


Keynote Speaker


Lexi Mills, CEO, Shift6 Studios

Lexi Mills is a multi-award-winning digital expert specialised in data-driven communications strategies.

With over fifteen years of experience at the nexus of internet search algorithms and PR, establishing her as one of the foremost authorities on building digital brand real estate and trust online. Lexi is fascinated by the influence of internet infrastructure and technology in category creation, cultural shifts, and human behaviour.

She is President of the Future of Search Foundation and CEO of Shift6 Studios, an international consultancy that collaborates with corporations, government entities, NGO’s, investors and technology start-ups.   Additionally, she co-developed Shift6MI, a proprietary PR SEO technology designed to support and democratise digital branding and reputation management.

Lexi’s research considers the potential and challenges arising from our progressively interconnected world. She focuses on identifying ethical concerns and biases within internet search algorithms and associated technologies. More recently she has studied law and digital forensics to further her policy and advocacy work to advance digital territories for humanity’s benefit and betterment.

Regulatory Keynote Speaker


Jonathan Phelan, Head of Department – Retail Lending, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Jonathan Phelan has been part of the FCA’s senior leadership team since 2004 when he helped to develop a thematic approach to the supervision of high street firms.  After this he was asked to create and lead an enforcement department focused on investigating high street firms. He then led a department responsible for fighting financial crime and became the regulator’s media expert on scams & swindles. Following this he fostered FCA’s relationship with consumer organisations and developed FCA’s approach to consumer vulnerability.  Jonathan has now returned to frontline supervision and heads up a department focused on consumer credit firms.


Breakout 1a: Gen Z Money Management & Debt: Adapting to younger people’s needs


Chair: Megan Micklewright, Founder, The Savvy Spender

Recently crowned ‘Online Financial Influencer of the Year at the 2023’ at the British Bank Awards. Megan‘s primary focus is to help educate her audience to become more financially independent, savvy and confident by providing financial knowledge, insight and a community for people to feel safe to talk about their financial situations.







Sam Challenger, Director of Collections & Customer Experience at Billing Finance

Throughout her 30 years of experience in international financial services (of which 7 years in South Africa) Sam covered a broad range of sectors and products, including rent collections, mortgages, hire purchase, personal loans, funeral debt, insurance, telecoms and credit cards

Sam has a proven track record in credit control and debt collections through her roles with DLC which became part of Cabot Credit Management in the UK and now in car finance.



Leon Ward, CEO, MyBnk

Leon is the CEO of MyBnk, the UK’s largest financial education charity that delivers expert-led programmes to young people aged 5-25 across the country, directly or virtually. He is also sits on board committees at Refuge and The Children Society.




John Webb, Consumer Affairs Manager, Experian

John Webb, Consumer Affairs Manager at Experian, is a leading expert in credit scores and helps deliver the company’s consumer education programme. This is focused on explaining credit reports & scores, lending decisions and promoting a range of financial education initiatives. John joined Experian in 2012, and acts and a spokesperson for Experian in local and national media, as well as working closely with the free debt advice sector. John has spent a number of years supporting the UK’s most financially vulnerable people. Working on initiatives to support victims of domestic abuse, problem gambling and people with disabilities.


Breakout 1b: Adviser-Creditor Communication: Channel Choice or Just Channel Shift?


Chair: Kiri Adams, Social Policy Manager, Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a charity that provides free debt help across the UK through local churches.

Kiri has worked in the debt advice sector for over seven years, working with financial services, enforcement, utilities and government departments to help secure better outcomes for customers in debt. She currently works as CAP’s Social Policy Manager; feeding insights from CAP clients into policy decisions, leading on CAP’s Public Affairs work and advocating for those in debt and on low incomes.

Kiri also chairs the Communications Subgroup, a subsidiary of the Government Debt Management Function’s (GDMF) Fairness Group. The Fairness Group was set up in 2016 to recommend improvements to the government’s debt-management practices. It includes representatives from central government, local government, the debt advice sector and industry experts.


Matt Vaughan-Wilson, Senior Creditor Liaison Policy Officer, Citizens Advice

Matt joined Citizens Advice in 2021 in a role which combines practical creditor engagement with research and influencing activity. He has worked across a wide range of policy areas, recently including personal insolvency remedies, council tax, bailiff regulation and Buy Now Pay Later. Before joining Citizens Advice he worked in policy and fundraising at the Money Advice Trust, which he originally joined as a debt adviser.



Simon Gregory, Sales Director, Data on Demand

Having built a career in both the Consumer and Commercial data sectors, Simon is currently part of the Exec Team at Data On Demand where his role is focused on supporting the business to grow its Alternative UK Consumer Data services across new and existing markets with a focus on Financial Services.

Prior to Data On Demand Simon spent 7 years with Credit Reference Agency TransUnion UK (previously Callcredit) as part of the leadership team for their Alternative Lending & Fintech division. Outside of work Simon is an avid supporter of the treble winning Manchester City, fair weather cyclist and thoroughly average golfer!

Anu Gibson, Customer Experience Director, Ovo Energy

Anu has over 20 years cross industry and sector experience helping to drive customer led strategy and delivery to create needs based experiences that make a difference for end users and organisations.  Since joining OVO in 2021, Anu has led their complaints operation and customer experience function through the migration of SSE customers and energy crisis and has more recently taken the lead to further evolve OVO’s focus on customer inclusion and vulnerability.

Breakout 1c: The Changing Approach to the Enforcement of Council Tax


Chair: Chris Nichols, CEO, Enforcement Conduct Board

The Enforcement Conduct Board is he independent oversight body for the enforcement sector in England and Wales.

He began his career at the Ministry of Justice where he helped to bring in a new regulatory framework for legal services. He then moved to the Bar Standards Board where he set up new approaches to barrister regulation. Before taking up his current role in March 2023, Chris spent eight years at the Legal Services Board where he held a number of senior roles including Director of Policy and Oversight.


Russell Hamblin Boone, CEO, Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA)

Russell was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of CIVEA, representing the civil enforcement industry, in January 2018. He previously held the post of Chief Executive of the Consumer Finance Association. He has been described as doing more than anyone else to build the intellectual case for a high-cost, short term credit market in the UK. Russell is consistently named in the Credit 500, as one of the fifty top influencers.  He is an experienced commentator and spokesman, both through his work with policymakers and through his media profile.  He has also held senior positions at the Finance and Leasing Association and the Energy Retail Association (now known as Energy UK). He has worked in Downing Street for the Chief Whip and the Cabinet Office as private secretary to the Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal.

Sarah Naylor, Sales Director, Dukes Bailiffs and Vice President, CIVEA

Sarah has emerged as an inspirational and dynamic leader within the enforcement and revenues industry. Over the course of her eight-year tenure at Dukes, Sarah has climbed the ranks, progressing from Trace Administrator to overseeing Legal, Compliance and Bids, then on to Business Development Manager before being promoted to Sales Director in 2021. Since joining Dukes, Sarah has strived to break the stigma associated with enforcement by promoting ethical practices. As a member of Dukes’ management board, she advocates accessible and innovative solutions for debtors and has recently focused on promoting the responsible use of AI in enforcement.

Her exceptional achievements extend beyond her role at Dukes. In May 2022, Sarah was appointed as the youngest and second female Vice President of CIVEA (Civil Enforcement Association), the industry’s member association, set to become the future President in 2024 to 2026. Earlier this year, she was a finalist for Staffordshire employee of the year, showcasing her dedication and commitment to her profession.

Leah Gray, Senior Service Delivery Manager, Denbighshire Council

Having worked within the public sector for over 16 years, Leah is a champion for change and innovation. She manages the strategic and operational delivery for Council Tax, Business Rates, Housing Benefit Overpayments and Sundry Debts.

Joining Denbighshire as a Revenues Officer within the Sundry Debt Team in 2007, moving to Council Tax, and progressing to Court Officer, Team Manager and more recently Service Delivery Manager Leah has seen a vast change in the way Revenues and Benefits services are delivered.

She has led the service through digitalisation, and a new world of engaging with customers, as well as a 7 year period of working in partnership with the private sector to deliver the service. This has allowed Leah to bring the strengths of both together, to form what is a strong performing and forward-thinking service.


The Big Debt Debate: Inequality and the Link Between Financial, Mental and Physical Health


Chair: Helen Barnard, Director of Policy, Research, Evidence & Impact, The Trussell Trust

Helen was formerly Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Research and Policy Director at Pro Bono Economics. She is a leading national expert on poverty, inequality and social policy. Her extensive body of research and policy work have covered poverty, destitution, labour markets, housing, social security and civil society. She is author of ‘Want (Giants: a new Beveridge Report)’ which examines modern day poverty and the institutions and reforms required to address it.





Kathy Wade, Service Manager (Money Guidance), Gamcare

Kathy is the Manager of the Money Guidance Service at GamCare, the leading provider of information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling harms. GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline and provides structured support for anyone who is harmed by gambling. Kathy has a background in debt and money advice and has worked in the advice sector for nearly 30 years; working as a debt advice specialist and then going on to manage a range of advice services (including debt advice), co-ordinating advice partnerships and is a debt advice trainer. GamCare’s Money Guidance Service provides money guidance tailored to the needs of those affected by gambling related financial harms.




Francesca Smith, Research Officer, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is a research and policy charity set up by the MoneySavingExpert, Martin Lewis CBE. It works for a world in which the vicious cycle of money and mental health problems is broken, so that we all have an equal chance of financial security, regardless of our mental health; and everyone’s mental health can flourish, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Her research has covered money and mental health in a range of contexts, including ethnicity, housing and the health system.  She is passionate about breaking stigma around mental health problems, both in a professional and personal capacity. Francesca is also a Visiting Fellow at Zinc VC, a venture builder for exceptional talent to experiment their way to building innovative solutions that tackle society’s toughest issues.

Sarah Murphy, Head of Operational Transformation, Money & Pensions Service

Sarah has worked in the money advice and guidance space since 2005, with a particular passion and focus on designing, developing and running services that support people experiencing both money and mental health problems. Her current role at the Money and Pensions Service is focussed on transformation of the money and pension guidance services delivered by MaPS, ensuring they are able to support those most in need and in vulnerable circumstances. In her previous role as Senior Health and Social Care Strategy Lead, Sarah built relationships with the health and care sector across the UK, developed training for health and care professionals on the importance of addressing financial wellbeing alongside physical and mental wellbeing as well as tools and resources for frontline professionals to use to support patients with money worries.

Dr Jo Burrell, CEO and Founder, Ultimate Resilience

Dr Jo Burrell is a clinical psychologist, researcher, trainer and coach. She has practiced as a clinician within the NHS and independently for over 20 years, delivering specialist psychological assessment, treatment and support.

Jo is director and co-founder of Ultimate Resilience, whose multi award-winning workplace wellbeing solutions are drawn on robust research and theory. Since 2013, Ultimate Resilience has supported employers across public, private and charitable sectors to create psychologically safe workplaces and resilient staff teams.

As a qualified mental health professional, Jo’s mission is to use her psychological expertise and knowledge to help employees and organisations be well and work well. With core training and expertise in research design and methodology, Jo is actively engaged in advancing the academic field of workplace stress and resilience through research projects and published articles.

Her published Skills-based Model of Personal Resilience informs the training and coaching services delivered by Ultimate Resilience. This model sets out the full range of skills that are proven to build resilience and provides psychologically informed guidance on how to achieve lasting behaviour change.


Breakout 2a: The Cost of Living on the Breadline: Income Maximisation to Make Ends Meet


Chair: Lee Healey, Founder, IncomeMax

Lee is the Founder and CEO of IncomeMax, a social enterprise helping low income and vulnerable people to maximise income and take control of their finances. Lee’s team specialise in providing human-centered, personal money advice to help reunite customers with billions of pounds of benefits and other financial support which goes unclaimed in the UK each year. IncomeMax has found over £35 million pounds of new income for customers since 2009.

Lee is passionate about empowering vulnerable people to fight for their rights, and champions the need for a better system which helps support stability, resilience and hope for people, and the planet. He is an advisory board member for Martin Lewis’ Money & Mental Health Charity, and a MALG Ambassador.


Ren Yi Hooi, Founder and CEO, Lightning Reach

Lightning Reach is a financial support portal which simplifies access to grants and vital support for those in need. Founder and CEO Ren Yi Hooi is one of the WISE100 2023 top women in social enterprise and is on the Women in FinTech Powerlist 2022.

Ren was previously the Product Director at Railsr, a leading FinTech scaleup. Passionate about using technology to drive social impact and financial inclusion, she led international teams as Country Manager for BIMA, a global InsurTech provider for the financially underserved.

Ren holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from UC Berkeley. She is currently a Senior Visiting Practitioner at the University of York’s Administrative Fairness Lab and a recipient of the UK’s Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa.

Jessica Taplin, Chief Executive, British Gas Energy Trust

As British Gas Energy Trust’s first full time CEO, Jessica brings with her significant sector leadership & grant making experience. As the grandchild of an immigrant who arrived in the UK with very little, Jessica is passionate about helping ensure everyone can access the support, advice, training and inspiration they need, no matter what obstacles and barriers might be in their way.

Having moved to the Charity sector after an early career in Business Development, Jessica worked at the Big Lottery Fund, playing a lead role in the UK Partnerships & Partnerships grant funding portfolio. Since then, she has led several charities including the national youth helpline, a national volunteering charity and an established specialist, residential Trust for young disabled people.

Jessica is a Trustee of a grant giving foundation focused on the Care sector both in the UK and India,  a specialist advisor for a Foundation focusing on supporting minority groups participation in politics and government and she also mentors Leeds university students who are the first in their family to attend to university, as she herself was.

Deven Ghelani, Director and Founder, Policy in Practice

Deven Ghelani founded Policy in Practice to make the welfare system simple to understand so that people and organisations can make the decisions that are right for them. The company empowers people through proactive integrated support.

Deven has advised private and public sector organisations including central and local government on the impact of changes to the welfare system and was part of the team that developed Universal Credit at the Centre for Social Justice. Deven Ghelani has written and spoken extensively on welfare reform. He sits on the Social Metrics Commission and the Mental Health and Income Commission.

Anna Buckle, Head of Employee Experience & Financial Wellbeing, PayCaptain

Anna is responsible for developing tools and services to support employee’s to become more financially resilient. PayCaptain is a FinTech on a mission to transform the way people are paid, making it a more engaging and positive experience and using the huge power that payroll has to help people to make the most of their hard earned money. SmartPay, by PayCaptain, uses behavioural science and the latest technology to provide suggestions tailored to an employee’s individual circumstances, at meaningful points in time, that will help them make the most of their income. PayCaptain is the current holder of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) Software Product of the Year award, the holder of two B Corp ‘Best for the World’ awards for being in the top 5% of highest scorers within both the Workers and Governance impact areas in the B Corporation Impact Assessment and has also been recognised in 2 consecutive years as an Escape 100 organisation, achieving 7th place in 2023 out of over 13,500 businesses nominated.


Breakout 2b: The Ageing Population: Debt Amongst Older Generations


Chair: Liz Barclay, UK Small Business Commissioner

Liz Barclay is a small business and consumer affairs broadcaster, producer and writer. She started her career as an adviser and then CEO with Citizens Advice before moving into radio and TV production and presentation specialising in business and consumer affairs. She was Financial Inclusion Commissioner; Chair of the Fair by Design Campaign; a non-executive Director of 2 organisations (including Chair of MALG) and a member of the Standards Boards of The Equity Release Council.

Liz was appointed the role of Small Business Commissioner in July 2021 to spearhead the national effort to crackdown on poor payment practices which cause thousands of small businesses to close every year.




Sarah Cheetham, Head of StepChange Subsidiaries, StepChange Debt Charity

Head of StepChange Subsidiaries. Sarah has worked at StepChange Debt Charity for 21 years, with a wealth of experience in Operations Leadership and Product Management. Most recently she’s held the positions of Head of Debt Advice and Head of Operational Service Delivery. Her current role is Head of StepChange Subsidiaries, leading both the IVA and Financial Solutions (equity release and mortgage applications) companies.  Sarah sits on the StepChange Senior Leadership Team and helps to set and deliver the organisations strategy to help people in problem debt across the United Kingdom.

Morgan Vine, Head of Policy & Influencing, Independent Age

Independent Age is a charity which aims to improve the key systems and policies that are failing older people facing financial hardship across the nations. Morgan leads activity to change policy and practise to increase the income of older people in poverty, reduce their costs and ensure their homes are affordable, secure and in a good state of repair.

Since joining the third sector, Morgan has worked for multiple national charities including Age UK, RNIB, Parkinson’s UK and Versus Arthritis. She has played a key role in high-profile coalitions including being on the steering group of the UK Commission on Bereavement, the co-chair of the Older People’s taskforce which formed part of the UK Government’s Tackling Loneliness Network, and she was the former Chair of both the Continuing Healthcare Alliance and the Prescription Charges Coalition. Morgan is a Trustee for both Age UK Bromley and Greenwich and the Centre for Mental Health.


Breakout 2c: Behavioural Science & Debt: How Different Generations Approach Money Management


Chair: Phill Holdsworth, Founder and Managing Director, AurumGold

AurumGold is a visionary platform created to enhance financial wellbeing within organisations. Founder Phill is not just a seasoned Money Psychologist and Coach, but an innovator who delves beyond monetary figures to address the core psychology that governs financial behaviour.

His distinct approach blends NeuroFinance, Behavioural Science, and practical Financial Management to nurture self-awareness, ultimately leading individuals, and organisations on a path to financial enlightenment and operational success. With nearly 25 years of robust experience in the finance sector, Phill’s expertise spans from Investment Management to Money & Debt Advice. His impactful work has reverberated through the UK’s government sectors to the European Parliament in Brussels, making substantial contributions in shaping debt advice regulations.

Phill hosts the engaging ‘Wisdom Chat’ podcast, shedding light on crucial money and wellbeing topics with fellow distinguished professionals. He is fervently driven to transform financial anxiety into empowerment, guiding individuals to not only better manage their finances but to align them with their life goals, thereby fostering a culture of financial prudence and personal fulfillment.


Ruth Persian, Principal Advisor – Financial Behaviour & Gambling, Behavioural Insights Team

Ruth Persian heads up BIT UK’s Financial Behaviour Team and Gambling Policy & Research Unit (GPRU). The team uses insights from the behavioural sciences to design solutions to reduce gambling harm and to help people make better financial decisions, from deciding how much to save for their pension to identifying and applying for benefits they may be eligible for. Ruth has extensive experience in designing behavioural insights interventions and impact evaluations, having worked on over 15 behavioural insights projects in more than 10 countries, covering policy areas from revenue collection to financial inclusion. She previously oversaw BIT UK’s research in international  programmes, education and home affairs.

Before joining BIT, Ruth worked as an impact evaluation field coordinator for the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab in Nigeria and as an Overseas Development Institute Fellow at the Ministry of Health in Burundi. She studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Tübingen and the University of Cape Town and holds a Master’s in Economics from Oxford University.

CJ Tayeh, Founder & CEO, Flank

CJ is a human rights lawyer turned growth marketer turned social innovator. She founded Flank Digital, a start up at the intersection of fintech and healthtech, to address how we talk about money with our friends and family. With her diverse skill sets, she’s on a mission to tackle the inequalities, injustices and cultural power imbalances associated with poverty and debt in the informal and formal economies. Alongside her start up, CJ is a co-lead for the Zebras Unite London Chapter, a trustee for SHIFT Design Charity, a writer published in The Start Up and Hackernoon, a TED talk coach.


Lexi Mills, CEO, Shift6 Studios

Lexi Mills is a multi-award-winning digital expert specialised in data-driven communications strategies.

With over fifteen years of experience at the nexus of internet search algorithms and PR, establishing her as one of the foremost authorities on building digital brand real estate and trust online. Lexi is fascinated by the influence of internet infrastructure and technology in category creation, cultural shifts, and human behaviour.

She is President of the Future of Search Foundation and CEO of Shift6 Studios, an international consultancy that collaborates with corporations, government entities, NGO’s, investors and technology start-ups.   Additionally, she co-developed Shift6MI, a proprietary PR SEO technology designed to support and democratise digital branding and reputation management.

Lexi’s research considers the potential and challenges arising from our progressively interconnected world. She focuses on identifying ethical concerns and biases within internet search algorithms and associated technologies. More recently she has studied law and digital forensics to further her policy and advocacy work to advance digital territories for humanity’s benefit and betterment.


Interactive ‘Catch Box’ Session: The Future of Debt Advice: How Can We Take Advantage of AI?:


Chair: Vanessa Northam, Head of Charity Development, StepChange Debt Charity

Vanessa Northam is strategic and engaging leader with over 20 years of experience in financial services, energy, fintech, and charities, she is passionate about delivering social impact through innovative solutions and partnerships. She currently heads up the Charity Development function at StepChange Debt Charity, the UK’s leading debt advice and solutions provider, where she is accountable for securing funding to fund all the work of the charity, referrals, and relationships that enable the charity to support over 650,000 people a year with their debt problems.

Alongside these priorities she’s focussed on collaboration across multiple sectors, to bring about greater awareness and support for those in problem debt. Prior to joining the charity, Vanessa worked in an Open Banking start-up and consulting on the needs of vulnerable customers. Previous roles also include leading E.ON’s vulnerable consumer strategy, where she implemented an award winning identification and support tool, and set-up their £6million hardship fund.


Terry Franklin, Executive Vice President, QUALCO

As an Executive Vice President at Qualco Technology, Terry is leading the company’s Fintech Solutions evolution. He oversees all technology-related initiatives, leveraging new capabilities to provide innovative solutions that help businesses realise tangible benefits. His vast experience in the market combines unique industry know-how and solution design expertise to bring significant value to Fintech tools.

With extensive insight in the fields of Management, Consultancy, and Business Development, along with a proven track-record of significant accomplishments in the Credit and the Collection industry for more than 20 years, Terry has held leadership positions in established companies in United Kingdom and beyond.

In his all-encompassing role at Qualco, Terry ensures for the effective deployment of Qualco’s technology and builds on the company’s stellar reputation for innovative services to create value for our clients while investing in relentless relationship-building.

David Green, Head of IT, StepChange Debt Charity

With over 17 years dedicated to IT within the tightly-regulated financial sector, David Green has carved a niche in IT Operations Management, Cybersecurity, Engineering and more recently, Artificial Intelligence. An experienced leader at the UKs leading debt charity, StepChange, where David is a pivotal member of the senior leadership team, he has championed innovative technologies and their strategic deployment of AI to enhance the charity’s operational efficiencies.

David’s passion for AI is evident as he ardently believes in its potential to revolutionise industries and is an advocate for its ethical and responsible deployment.