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MALG CONFERENCE 2021

On 28 October 2021, the MALG Conference returned to No. 11 Cavendish Square in London as our first face-to-face event since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The theme was Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion and we welcomed a line-up of speakers new and old to ask and answer the ‘difficult questions’ around how we build a more inclusive sector and address key post-pandemic challenges. Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, 150+ delegates, and team members who made it our most interactive and engaging conference yet, even despite Covid-19 restrictions.

Delegate resources including speaker slides, reports, and other materials are now available via this password-protected link (delegates will receive the password via email). We would really appreciate your feedback via this brief survey and any more in-depth comments you’d like to share with us via info@malg.org.uk.

MALG Conference 2021 Programme

09.00   Registration, coffee and exhibition

10.00   Welcome from MALG CEO Bob Winnington

10.05   Regulatory keynote: Sheldon Mills, Executive Director (Consumers & Competition), Financial Conduct Authority, provided insights from the regulator on the Discussion Paper that sought views on plans to improve diversity and inclusion in financial services and the work planned for the future to ensure consumers get high quality advice and fair and appropriate outcomes.

10.25   Advice sector keynote: Caroline Siarkiewicz, CEO, Money & Pensions Service, provided an overview of the work MaPS is undertaking to help consumers make the most of their money and pensions, particularly the most vulnerable. This will include: key research findings, changes in the advice commissioning landscape and reflections on the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on people’s financial wellbeing.

10.40   BREAKING NEWS

  • Cycle of exclusion update:
    Vanessa Whale, Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability Manager, HSBC
  • Insolvency Service/R3 Diversity & Inclusion Group update:
    Francesca Tackie, Director at Mercury Corporate Recovery Solutions Limited, Chair of Trustees at BHA For Equality

10.55     Mental health and wellbeing intro – what to expect from the drop-in sessions

Sarah Murphy, Associate Director for Advice, Information & Training, Mental Health UK

Lisa Michaels, Certified Intuitive Life & Business Coach

11.00   Networking break

11.30   Breakout Sessions 1

  • Breakout 1a: Grants vs loans – Social policy and commercial viability
    Carl Packman, Head of Corporate Engagement, Fair by Design
    Jason Wassell, Chief Executive, Consumer Credit Trade Association

Carl Packman of Fair by Design will provide insights into the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) pilot. The NILS pilot aims to test the benefits to customers, society and the economy and show whether a permanent nationwide NILS can be delivered in a sustainable way. Jason Wassell of the Consumer Credit Trade Association will discuss the rise and fall of the Payday Loans market, lessons learned and his views on the future of lending and credit. Followed by an audience Q&A session on how best to serve to low-income households.

  • Breakout 1b: Achieving inclusive design and digital accessibility for vulnerable people in debt
    Kate Morris, Digital Accessibility & Outcome Manager, Deloitte LLP

Kate Morris, Digital Accessibility & Outcome Manager at Deloitte, will bust the myths of Inclusive Design and Digital Accessibility. She will provide a rollercoaster of facts and tips, statistics and stories based on her experience as a developer and an Accessibility Lead at Deloitte, enabling attendees to make their websites accessible enough to reach some of the most vulnerable of vulnerable people in debt.

  • Mental health and wellbeing drop-in
    Sarah Murphy, Associate Director for Advice, Information & Training, Mental Health UK
    Lisa Michaels, Certified Intuitive Life & Business Coach, Strive to Thrive in Life and the Workplace

This session is focused on you. Join us for 30 minutes of tips and strategies, from Lisa Michaels, to look after your wellbeing, thriving whilst working from home and building your emotional resilience. Or maybe you are preparing to return to an office environment? Sarah Murphy of Rethink Mental Illness will also spend 30 minutes providing insights into the variety of feelings a return to the office can create. Providing practical techniques to support your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues and tips to create a culture of compassion at work.

12.30   Lunch

13.30   The Big Debate: Composition of problem debt 2021-22

  • Chair: Craig Simmons, Head of Debt & Credit Policy, Money & Pensions Service
    Panellists:
    Chris Leslie, Chief Executive, Credit Services Association
    Christian Drew, Debt Strategy Policy Adviser, HMRC
    Charlotte Acutt, Income Operations Manager, Southwark & IRRV Council Member
    Lex Jones, CEO, Registry Trust

Creditor industry experts from financial services and the not-for-profit and public sectors will share sector experiences and challenges with debt collection during the coronavirus pandemic. This may include new ways of working, customer forbearance strategies and what the debt advice sector should look out for in 2022 and beyond. This interactive session will be chaired by Craig Simmons, Head of Debt & Credit Policy at The Money & Pensions Service.

14.30   Breakout Sessions 2

  • Breakout 2a: Using ‘plain numbers’ and inclusive language and why it matters
    Mike Ellicock, Founder, Plain Numbers
    Oge Udensi, Principal – Cyber Security, UK Finance
    Sarah Armstrong Smith, Chief Security Adviser, Microsoft Cyber Security
    Beatriz Garrachon, Product Owner, Financial Wellness Group

The language we use and the way we present information is an important part of ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. Mike Ellicock of Plain Number will share insights that make numbers more accessible for all customers, including insights on customer comprehension improvements during research conducted in 2021. Oge Udensi of UK Finance and Sarah Armstrong Smith of Microsoft will then provide some key insights and themes from their report on non-inclusive language in tech and we will also hear from organisations already implementing some of the report recommendations.

  • Breakout 2b: Debt options across the nations
    Richard Dennis, Chief Executive, The Accountant in Bankruptcy and Agency
    Paul Neave and Stephanie Smith, Welsh Government (joining virtually)
    Anne Marie O’Kane, Northern Irish Department for Communities (joining virtually)
    Peter Tutton, Head of Policy Research and Public Affairs, StepChange Debt Charity

With the debt landscape across each nation every-changing, learning from each other is now more important than ever to ensure our debt sector is grounded in good practice and promotes shared values. With representatives from each of the four nations, including the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) in Scotland, StepChange, the Northern Irish Department for Communities and the Welsh Government, each will provide insight into their current debt options and upcoming changes. This interactive session will open discussions on what is working well across the four nations, what improvements we can seek and how we can all work together towards a good debt sector.

  • Mental health and wellbeing drop-in
    Sarah Murphy, Associate Director for Advice, Information & Training, Mental Health UK
    Lisa Michaels, Certified Intuitive Life & Business Coach, Strive to Thrive in Life and the Workplace

This session is focused on you. Join us for 30 minutes of tips and strategies, from Lisa Michaels, to look after your wellbeing, thriving whilst working from home and building your emotional resilience. Or maybe you are preparing to return to an office environment? Sarah Murphy of Rethink Mental Illness will also spend 30 minutes providing insights into the variety of feelings a return to the office can create. Providing practical techniques to support your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues and tips to create a culture of compassion at work.

15.30   Networking break

15.50 Building a more inclusive sector

  • Chair: Liz Barclay, UK Small Business Commissioner
    Panellists:
    Helio Figueiredo
    Founder & Director at Apolodorus
    Ruksana Kauser, Member Service Adviser, Calderdale Credit Union
    Rebecca O’Connor, Principal Consultant, Starfish Search

How do we increase diversity and inclusion across the debt advice, credit and related sectors and challenge leaders to do more? This interactive panel session will cover the importance of diversity, the barriers to achieving a more diverse workplace and include a call to action for leaders to consider difficult conversations to drive change.

16.20   MALG Deputy Chair Robert Skinner’s closing remarks