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Solutions are already here – we need the whole industry to adopt them

Earlier this week we held our AGM, followed by our Legal and All-Members’ Meetings and I’d firstly like to thank all those who attended, particularly given the somewhat interesting transport situation we currently have.

That said, we had a very full room, particularly for our Legal/All-Member sessions and for me, part of the joy of the CA, is when we see both practitioner members and our affiliates huddled together in various groups discussing the issues they are currently facing and sharing potential solutions.

These can be from the nitty-gritty of conveyancing work to broader industry-wide initiatives, and we were able to cover off a variety of these particularly during our Lender Engagement Workshop and one that looked at the future vision for digital conveyancing, material information and how we might deliver a more consumer-centric home moving process.

As always, and again this has always struck me as another benefit of CA membership, no-one held back in terms of where they felt there were problems to be addressed but also in terms of the suggested solutions, how they were – for example – getting over any communication problems with lenders or what they wanted to see in terms of securing a better service level between the two parties.

It’s our job as a trade body not just to highlight problems, but to genuinely work with all concerned to find solutions to those problems. We all have to feel that change is possible and that we can find a better way of doing things that benefits all involved in this process.

Again, that collaborative spirit was evident in spades during the meetings and I think we have to perhaps be more vocal in terms of the change we can/have secured and the solutions that clearly already exist that perhaps some are not utilising.

I was reminded of this on reading the Open Letter recently sent by a number of key figures in the property industry to Michael Gove. As, it quite rightly, pointed out the lack of speed and certainty within the home buying/selling process is hugely damaging across the piece.

However, what was also evident – and this was commented on a number of times at our meetings – was that the problems the letter identified all had tangible, existing solutions available to address them, in areas such as ‘greater data sharing, more upfront information, and standardised tools across the industry’.

Many of our affiliate members offer these solutions, many CA member firms already use them, and we as a trade body have been pushing for greater use. But, and this is perhaps the real nub of the issue, without Government mandation right across the industry to use them, then we’ll certainly have a two-tier system and one that can still only work at the speed of those not using these solutions.

There are clear wins to be achieved here and the more the industry can promote what is currently available, the benefits, and how the Government can ensure we deliver the changes necessary and provide greater speed and certainty, the better our process will be.

We’ll keep working towards that, and judging from our recent meetings, we have a highly engaged membership base who understand this, and will continue to support us as we strive for that better process.

Finally, even though we have just finished our latest meetings, I have a few future dates for your diary, which I think you’re going to want to note down.

First up, is the 14th September for our next series of member meetings. This time we are heading to York and the Grand Hotel, which is a fabulous venue right in the heart of the City. We will be holding a Dinner after the meetings so I hope you’re able to attend.

After that we’ll be holding our final meeting of the year – how odd to be writing that in May – on the 7th December and once again it will be hosted by our affiliate member, Howden, in London.

And we are also able to announce the date and venue for our 2024 Conference so please put this important date in your diaries. On the 6th February next year we will be heading to the Hilton Deansgate in Manchester for our full conference programme, followed by a drinks reception and, as usual, our Charity Dinner.

Our theme for next year’s Conference is ‘Moving Towards The Digital Age’, and we’ll be providing you with further information on this and all of the above meetings in due course.

On that note, may I once again thank you for all your engagement. Look out for future information on a number of webinar and training sessions we’ll be offering, and we’ll continue to work on your behalf over the weeks and months ahead.

Nicky Heathcote is Non-Executive Chair at the Conveyancing Association (CA)

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