The Asset Based Finance Association (“ABFA”), the trade body for the invoice finance and asset based lending industry in the UK and Republic of Ireland, launched its self-regulatory framework on 1 July 2013. As part of this framework, the ABFA has appointed Lucy Armstrong as the chairperson of the newly established Professional Standards Council (“PSC”).
The new self-regulatory framework is in force for ABFA Members and incorporates a revised ABFA Code, based on six key principles around treating customers fairly and responsibly. The Code and supporting Guidance set clear expectations for Members’ treatment of their clients.
At the heart of the new framework is an independent Complaints Process managed by the specialist dispute resolution organisation, Ombudsman Services. This Complaints Process has been designed with a particular focus on supporting smaller businesses (those with a turnover of up to £6.5m per annum). The framework ensures that these businesses will have an independent process to access if they believe they have been not been treated fairly.
The ABFA has also established a Professional Standards Council. This body oversees the ABFA Code and the independent Complaints Process and is charged with ensuring that they are up to date and effective. In addition to overseeing the Code and issues emerging from the Complaints Process, where necessary the PSC is able to take a range of actions to maintain and enhance the reputation of the industry. These include sanctions against Members.
The PSC is independent of the ABFA and its membership comprises a majority of lay members. Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive of The Alchemists, has been appointed as independent chairperson.