IPA statement on unregulated debt advice
David Holland, Chief Inspector
24 January 2023
As an organisation, the IPA has a Regulatory Objective which includes protecting and promoting the public interest. Any unregulated debt advice harms the public interest, which is why all instances we identify are being highlighted to the relevant authorities. Whilst co-operation is slower than we would like, we are starting to see more positive outcomes. A crucial part of seeing the impact of a positive change is in the Insolvency Practitioner community acting as a whole and not just saying no to unregulated leads, but also reporting them with any evidence obtained. Reports can either be done directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or anonymously via email@example.com.
Since 16 January 2023, we have not seen any positive outcome from the full enforcement of the Google Ads policy update. We are still seeing examples of promotions being run that impersonate charities and breach basic trading disclosure requirements, where even the basic requirements of a valid registered company name are not being disclosed. During initial calls, the advertisers will claim associations with IVA companies that have not been shown to exist and will seemingly say anything to just be able to gather information and refer the lead either direct to an Insolvency practitioner or on to an FCA regulated entity.
The IPA, along with other Recognised Professional Bodies (RPBs) are clear that under the Code of Ethics an Insolvency Practitioner is responsible for all marketing or promotional activities that have led to an appointment. The changes to Statement of Insolvency Practice (SIP) 3.1 further enforce this duty specifically to IVAs, and the requirements of SIP 9 also apply where a proportion of the Nominee’s fee is paid to a referrer for advice, fact finds and any other work undertaken. Insolvency Practitioners engaging with unregulated lead introducers brings the profession into disrepute, which is why we require evidence of effective service agreements and robust due diligence checks for any work referrers.