The Credit Services Association (CSA), the UK trade body for the collections and debt purchase sector, is set to launch a significantly revised and updated version of its ‘Collector Accreditation Initiative’ (CAI) online test to further improve professionalism and compliance in an increasingly demanding regulatory environment.

CAI was designed by CSA as an affordable way to assess debt collectors’ knowledge and scope of understanding of compliance, enabling firms to mitigate regulatory risks and uphold the highest standards. Almost 60 companies are currently CAI accredited, accounting for more than 3,800 passes in 2020 alone.

The new CAI platform will have an improved user experience and feature enhanced reporting. The content and difficulty level of the exam questions has been updated to reflect the increasingly complex regulatory environment and demands of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However, even for non-FCA regulated firms, the assessment remains an effective way of ensuring best practice collections in line with the CSA’s Code of Practice.

Instead of just pass or fail, those completing CAI will be awarded with a fail, pass, merit, or distinction, allowing firms to even more effectively benchmark employee capability against competitors. It will also be possible for employees to complete more than one assessment per year to ensure compliance competence is maintained and knowledge is current to keep pace with the dynamic nature of the industry.

The aim is for the CSA and its members to use the more detailed information and analysis provided by the new CAI platform to inform firms’ strategic direction from a compliance perspective by identifying where the gaps are and coming up with solutions to directly address them.

Fiona Macaskill, Head of Learning & Development, CSA, said “CAI is a very well-established product in our sector but it was time for the platform and content to be updated as part of the evolution of the regulatory environment we operate within, which has become increasingly complex, especially as a result of the pandemic. With the cost of compliance increasing, CAI is a highly cost- effective means of mitigating risk and can form part of a wider learning and development strategy alongside apprenticeships and other solutions to boost the collections workforce. We’re keen to help members and wider organisations maximise these opportunities as part of a strategic package of support.”

Nick Cherry, Chair of the CSA’s Services Board, said“The CSA’s Collector Accreditation Initiative (CAI) has long since been seen as vital for raising standards and professionalism in our organisation and the wider industry. The revised and updated version is very much welcomed at a time when regulatory demands are increasingly complex and we are looking forward to its roll out.”