The annual Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference was a great success, bringing together debt management experts, commentators and other key stakeholders from the sector. The theme of the conference was Dimensions of Debt and the goal was to challenge the issues facing those struggling with debt and to see what we can all do to tackle indebtedness.

From how changes in the UK economy can affect people who owe money, to how interest-only mortgages can be a real problem, the speakers provided a complete picture of the issues currently affecting the debt management market and its customers.

Here’s what happened on the day itself.

Highlights of the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference

Yael Selfin from KPMG at Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference

There were a range of high profile speakers on the day of the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference, including Yael Selfin, Chief Economist, KPMG UK; James Jones, Experian, and Sara Williams, an acknowledged debt expert and blogger from Debt Camel.

Yael talked about her team’s research on how major geopolitical events like Brexit are likely to affect the UK economy. She and the KPMG team found the prospect of Brexit has created financial instability across the UK and this is likely to continue in the coming months.

She also provided some insights into how the economy is likely to fare in the near future. This included inflation rates, the pound sterling and the Bank of England’s base rate, which hasn’t been above 0.5% in more than eight years. The base rate is unlikely to rise until after Brexit and this could prove a challenge for the less financially experienced.

DC Dan Chappelow at the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference 2017

Another popular speaker was DC Dan Chappelow of the West Midlands Police. DC Chappelow was at the conference to talk about how we can recognise financial abuse and how this can affect vulnerable customers. He spoke about the key indicators to look out for that could be warning signs of financial abuse in a relationship and what the reality of this can be like.

DC Chappelow took us through the definition of a ‘vulnerable adult’ and what might cause someone to have reduced capacity to make financial decisions. He explained how these people might be more open to financial abuse such as theft, fraud or extortion.

Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, was also in attendance at the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference. He took part in our lively panel session about household debt and debt management.

Advice from Mouthy Money

Amy Rowe and Michael Taggart of personal finance blog Mouthy Money took us through their individual experiences with debt. Michael talked about how he’d dealt with getting a 110% sub-prime mortgage and taking on more credit than he could cope with. When interest rates started to rise, his debt started to spiral out of control.

But he managed to pull his situation round with the help of his wife and now had some handy takeaway lessons to impart: don’t take mortgage holidays and don’t get a mortgage if you’d be better renting. It was a very personal story but Michael’s honest and humorous tone were refreshing and helped to show what it was really like to struggle with debt.

What the attendees thought

We surveyed attendees at the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference to see what they thought of the speakers and of the day in general. Of those we spoke to, 53% rated Yael’s speech as ‘excellent’, with the remaining attendees describing her as ‘good’.

KPMG results at the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference

60% of our attendees gave DC Dan Chapellow Dan an ‘excellent’ rating, and the rest said he was ‘good’. One attendee commented that this was an interesting and important topic to talk about, saying: “Financial abuse is an increasing topic in vulnerability, there is not much guidance around regarding this and often gets overlooked.”

When we asked people what they thought of the event more generally, 87% said they thought it was ‘excellent’ and the remaining 13% said it was ‘good’. And everyone we surveyed said they felt welcome at the event, which certainly bodes well for the success of the conference going forwards.

Overall thoughts of the Harrington Brooks Creditor Conference 2017

Matthew Cheetham, CEO of Harrington Brooks, commented: “Harrington Brooks’ Dimensions of Debt conference has been a fantastic success. The debate, as it was last year, was interesting and insightful and I would like to thank all those who both spoke and attended for making it such a great event.

“It’s fast become an industry staple and I hope now that agencies and partners can come together with Harrington Brooks to tackle indebtedness, and advance important changes for our sector which will benefit consumers.”

As part of our FCA authorisation, we’ve also got a cover feature in the current issue of GM Business Connect. You can read it online here.