You spend months and months discussing, and preparing, for an event and – just like…
Firstly, I want to thank all those members who attended our most recent series of meetings at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich earlier this month.
I know – as many people expressed this – that the time we get to spend together at both the meetings and socially afterwards are greatly appreciated, and are considered one of the top reasons why firms become involved in the Conveyancing Association in the first place.
Being able to share areas of concern and to discuss solutions that other members have in place is key to what many members seek to get out of their membership and in attending such meetings, so of course we will continue to provide this opportunity in the future.
To my mind, one of the key parts of the meeting – and is deeply entwined with the above – was our workshop session on what you believe the 2023 priorities should be for the coming year.
It is one thing for us as the Executive to outline what we believe they should be, but this does not mean they always chime with what the membership wants the CA to pursue, and we wanted to provide a forum in which firms could reflect back on what we are doing and what you want us to do.
I think it’s fair to say that the results were interesting and, I would be the first to admit, that a number of areas deemed to be priorities were not what I might have anticipated.
In a true sense, that validates having the session in the first place, and it was informative to hear from members about the importance of ongoing lender engagement, of the requirement for training sessions across areas such recruitment and retention or staff welfare, plus many voices in favour of closer work between our legal member firms and our affiliate partners.
Added to this was supportive voices on what the CA has been doing to help speed up the home buying and selling process, and in other areas such as ongoing leasehold reform and rent charges.
It was also interesting to hear members speak about how they could work better together, with a greater focus requested on the ways and means by which they could do this via our work-based protocols and using the CA as a conduit to try and smooth out some of the issues that often come up when member firms are working together.
There was certainly a degree of togetherness in that regard, and a very positive feel about the role the CA could and should have in terms of working relationships between members, and also how our Affiliate partners could help provide the products and services that help create a more efficient process for all stakeholders.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the recent Autumn Statement/Budget and the decision to turn the permanent stamp duty changes into a new holiday, albeit one that lasts until the 31st March 2025. Although a long time in the future, I know that member firms are generally not in favour of artificial deadlines, as they add to workloads and the stress and pressure placed upon staff.
The political element to this looms very large especially as we will have a number of further Budgets and Autumn Statements before this deadline, plus of course a General Election and a new Government who may have a very different agenda.
That said, it may well provide an added boost to transaction levels and demand over the period, however as we do get closer to that date, it will require a far greater degree of client management especially around completion dates. I know that member firms have dealt with this a number of times over the last decade and they will do so again.
Finally, this month’s meetings were the last time we will officially meet face to face in 2022 but there are plenty of other events coming up, plus of course we are not a million miles away from our 2023 Annual Conference which will now take place in London on the 7th February.
Expect to hear much more about this, including full details on the sessions and speakers, over the coming weeks, but if you would like to register you can do so by visiting our dedicated Annual Conference site here. It promises to be a great day and we would love to have as many members and stakeholders in attendance.
Nicky Heathcote is Non-Executive Chair at the Conveyancing Association (CA)