FEATURE: Collections Compliance

13th February 2017

Importance of qualifications in the debt collection sector

Twenty years ago the idea of qualifications in the debt collection sector were alien: why would a firm spend money on their collector’s education and provide time away from the daily task of collecting? After all it’s a simple game – ask for payment, take payment – surely that’s it?

Courses were brought in, and backed, by some forward-thinking firms but for many years the number and range were somewhat limited. Fast forward to today and we now have a plethora of in-house courses available within financial services firms themselves, in addition to external accreditation from third party providers and trade associations.

Additionally, we now have the new apprenticeship standards to add to this pot, including, if choosing the collections pathway, the Level 2 Credit Controller/Collector Apprenticeship and Level 3 Advanced Credit Controller/Collector Apprenticeship. If you choose a compliance pathway you have courses from the Level 3 Compliance Risk Officer Apprenticeship to the Level 6 Senior Compliance Risk Specialist Apprenticeship. There’s also a number of applicable customer services and/or leadership qualifications available.

While the market is completely different from what it was twenty years ago and I’m sure, for the vast majority of us, that is certainly for the better, the question on many people’s lips is: “why is it important to get these qualifications?”.

The first and most obvious reason is to meet the expectations of the FCA. Whilst the prescriptive training and competency rules don’t currently apply to the consumer credit market as they do to other sectors, the FCA do expect you to be able to demonstrate that you and your team are competent in relation to the regulated activity you undertake; what better way to do this than via a qualification? Furthermore, there is a real possibility that the FCA will apply training and competency rules in the future meaning we’ll have to officially qualify our team. This transition will be a lot easier if some or most of your team have already moved through qualifications rather than rushing around to register learners at the last moment.

Then you have to consider the new apprenticeship levy where firms with a staff wage bill of over £3million in any year will have to pay 0.5% of their payroll into a levy pot. This pot can only be used to pay for apprenticeships. When you combine the levy with the possibility of the FCA demanding a specific level of qualification it becomes somewhat of a no-brainer that firms should at least use their levy pot to put team members through qualifications. Firms which don’t have a payroll of more than £3million can still register learners on apprenticeship courses but rather pay an automatic levy they will simply make a payment limited to 10% of the cost of the qualification!

Next we have your competitors. There has been an explosion in the number or professional courses and qualifications available over the last five to ten years and this is no coincidence. Your competitors have seen the advantage of increasing the skill levels of their teams, so perhaps it is time you should as well. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is your team; an intelligent, highly skilled unit is always going to produce a more productive business. Quality learning and development irrefutably improves the efficiency and quality of the work your team does, boosting morale, providing career progression while retaining talent, as well as reducing the amount of resource needed to be and to evidence that you are compliant.

Robert Bell, Compliance Consultant at RB Compliance Consultancy Limited

If you would like more information on how qualifications could help benefit your company or assist in your career progression then call 07849774401

or email: robert.bell@rbcompliance.co.uk


RB Compliance specialise in providing apprenticeships for non-levy paying firms within the regulated sector and have created compliance officer and collector pathways to serve this. We also have superb courses outside of the apprenticeship standards, such as our Level 4 Compliance and Audit distance learning course.  If you would like to explore any of learning and development offerings then make contact.

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