If you’re involved in the world of debt – perhaps you’re a lender, collector, debt adviser, debt buyer, regulator or insolvency practitioner – you might just want to check your diary. As autumn draws to a close, with the last of the conkers get swept away and the trees briefly revealing their true colours, there’s a landmark event you would be well advised to check out.

On Thursday 24th November the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) annual conference and exhibition takes place beside the leafy Regent’s Park in central London, where an unprecedented array of organisations will converge to discuss crucial issues concerning personal debt in the UK today.

I was delighted to assume the role of Executive Office of MALG back in the spring and I am very excited to be attending my first MALG conference in that capacity.

Chaired by the well-known consumer broadcaster Liz Barclay (also chair of MALG) this year’s event, ‘Tackling problem debt – Are we REALLY all in it together?’, aims to explore the current and future debt landscape by getting right under the skin of current policies, practices and trends to ask some difficult but important questions, with the focus being very much on the welfare of the debtor. So people just like you and me who’ve found themselves having to face up to unmanageable debt, for whatever reason.

The conference will explore a number of issues, such as whether we are all pulling in the same direction. So for example, as far as debt collection is concerned is local government “playing by the same rules” as the private sector? And, as more and more services move online, including debt advice, who stands to benefit and who is perhaps being set up for a fall?

These and more questions will be dissected and debated in a selection of topical break-out sessions. Delegates will explore whether the responsibility for debt is shared equally between consumers, regulators and creditors. And we’ll examine the impact of FCA authorisation on the debt advice landscape, particularly the age-old ‘fee versus free’ debate. Yes that old chestnut!

To kick off the day, key-note speaker Chris Pond (Chair of the Money Charity and Vice Chair of the Financial Inclusion Commission) will address the title of the conference and set the scene for us. And because no MALG conference would be complete without the popular plenary session, later in the day this year’s expert panel will be led and probed by Adam Sharples, Chair of the Money Advice Trust, giving you the opportunity to ask a tricky question or two.

And if that’s not enough to compel you to register your place at this year’s MALG conference right away, let me share with you a selection of comments from past delegates.

“The most useful conference for networking with a diverse group of people and organisations that have a common interest.”

“I love that everyone is here – it’s not a ‘them and us’ atmosphere. The client/customer comes first. We’re all on the same side.”

“My first MALG conference and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very useful, interesting and informative.”

I would like to invite and welcome all of you to the event; whether you work for an existing member or not. Indeed we have exciting news about MALG Membership to share with you on the day so please ask us about it. I look forward to meeting you and about 300 others from right across the world of personal debt for this key, one-day event.

If you do attend, I’m confident it will serve to inform and stimulate you, and help bring this autumn to a colourful conclusion.

I look forward to seeing you on 24th November!

Bob Winnington MALG Executive Officer