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Thinking about the future

At the CA we like to think that, while we are certainly based in the here and now and looking at the ongoing, day-to-day challenges facing our members, we also have one eye firmly focused on the future, what is likely to be coming over the horizon, and what firms may need in order to be in the best possible shape to deal with those challenges.

After all, our Annual Conference this year was themed around the topic ‘Moving Towards the Digital Age’, and we believe one of the key areas for the CA to concentrate on is a continued look at what is ahead for the sector, for firms, and how we might improve the home buying and selling process in that time period.

I was reminded of this at our London meetings which took place earlier this month – and thank you to all who attended – specifically in terms of the presentation we received from the Bank of England on its Synchronisation Project and the changes for its Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, which if they come to fruition, could have a sizeable impact on conveyancing firms, particularly in terms of holding client monies.

This is a project that has not even had the go-ahead yet, and may not be completed until the end of 2026/27, but it’s also clear that – should it happen as some envisage – it could provide a fundamental shift for how money is moved around the housing market.

In other words, it could impact our members, and we therefore wanted to provide information from those running this project, but to also ensure that going forward, conveyancing firm’s voices are heard in providing full feedback on how it will impact their business, and what the potential intended and unintended consequences could be.

This should probably be seen in the context of what the CLC said at our meetings that it sees holding client monies by conveyancing firms as inherently risky and would encourage a move away from such practices.

A recent survey of law firms by the Ministry of Justice is also asking law firms to what extent they rely on interest paid on client accounts, and there has been some speculation that a move to pool accounts might be utilised to fund legal aid, as they do so in the US where they fund community initiatives through such measures.

So, in essence, it does look like change is on the way and it’s important that we provide firms with all the necessary information, and we help shape a potential new landscape in a manner which does not unduly impact on firms, and gives them time to change. We’ll continue to keep you informed on this.

Of course, with that in mind, it’s also important to focus on the future of the CA as well. We are not immune from change, we are certainly not immune from the challenges our firms face as they directly reflect on us as your professional body, and should – quite rightly – determine how we look, how we are run, what we prioritise, and how we can also be in the best shape possible to continue to carrying out our work on your behalf.

Just recently, as a Board we held a Strategy Day designed to look under the ‘bonnet’ of the CA. To leave no aspect of what we currently do unreviewed, so to speak, from our organisational purpose as a professional body, to the membership proposition we offer, how we are resourced, our membership categories and criteria, how we are funded, and so on.

Needless to say, it was an illuminating day and it has set in motion further work on all these areas, and then some, which we will be feeding back on. What was clear was that our members and their interests are at the heart of everything we do, and this will be taken into account in terms of how the Association shifts and changes. We will be providing more information, including outlining strategic pillars on which we will build our future work, to all members soon.

We have some further news in terms of the future set-up of our Board. Paul Norris has been a Board Director for many years but, as he has now retired, he feels it is right to step down from his position with the CA.

Firstly, we would all like to thank Paul for his contributions to the CA, his enthusiasm for what we do, his advice, feedback and support, and his friendship. He has been a huge part of the CA’s activities and growth and we wish him all the very best in his retirement.

At the moment, that does mean we have two vacant Board Director positions, and we have now started an appointment process. We are now asking members for expressions of interest in the positions, and we hope there will be a strong number of excellent candidates who can fill these highly-important Board roles.

They, along with our Executive Committee, play a huge role in the CA, especially in terms of providing key insight and expertise, and are often provide the bedrock on which we set the foundations for the rest of our work. We need new and informed voices – why not you?

Finally, just a few things to make you aware of which cover forthcoming CA events. Our next set of meetings for both Legal and All Members will take place in York in September, followed by another and in London again before the end of the year – further details to follow –while we are already thinking about the 2025 CA Conference & Dinner, which is going to be held once again in Manchester in February next year. As always, we’ll keep you informed of details and meeting contents well in advance, but just something to make a note of.

On that note, a huge thank you to all who attended and took part in our meetings this month. It was an excellent day of sessions and we covered some vitally-important topics that are going to shape our sector both today and in the future – we are looking forward to doing it all again in September in York.

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


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