Feel Good Friday: Sort Legal, Mitchell Roberton, Smartsearch & Equity Release Council

There have been lots of positive things happening across the sector this week, so we wanted to share these good vibes with you as part of our ‘Feel Good Friday’ news items. 

Here is a little snap shot of what’s been going on.

Sort Legal welcome new HOLP Laura Burkinshaw and celebrate opening of a new branch in Cardiff

Sort Legal opened their doors in Derby as a new Licensed Conveyancing firm at the end of 2016. The firm was originally created by Sort Ltd to provide a solution to many of the challenges in the Conveyancing Industry, by using technology, industry knowledge and customer service to Improve the customer journey.

They are delighted to welcome Laura Burkinshaw as their new Head of Legal Practice. Laura joined Sort Legal in June 2020 with 18 years of Conveyancing experience after previously spending 11 years as a HOLP at another firm.

Due to continuous growth since 2016, Sort Legal are celebrating opening a second branch in Cardiff. The new Cardiff office has opened with three members of staff, Laura Burkinshaw (HOLP), Rhodri Howells (Cardiff Conveyancing Director) and Claudia Gallo (Conveyancing Solicitor). They are to recruit more members of staff in both their Derby and Cardiff branches in the near future.

Laura Burkinshaw

Laura commented:

“I’m delighted to join Sort Legal as Head of Legal Practice. It’s exciting to be part of a firm that has already made huge strides since their opening, including receiving industry award wins and commendations. I’m looking forward to working with the current team to streamline processes and to improve the customer journey even further. I’ve joined the company at an exciting time with a second branch opening. Our new Cardiff office will allow us to continue with our planned growth. For our customers, it is business as usual as we work collectively across both branches.”

Four Associates Become Directors At Mitchells Roberton Limited

Four Associates Become Directors At Mitchells Roberton Limited Four current associates, Allyson Gilchrist, Joyce Moss, Laura Schiavone and Heather Warnock, have been elected to partnership at Mitchells Roberton, one of Glasgow’s longest-established firms of solicitors.

Allyson, Laura, and Heather will take up their roles as directors (partners) in Mitchells Roberton’s Private Client department, a major contributor to the firm’s annual performance. Joyce will take up her director role in Mitchell Roberton’s commercial property department.

Donald Reid, Chairman of Mitchells Roberton, said:

“Recent expansions and assumptions of smaller units have been consolidated and we are looking to the future of the firm.

“These appointments of able, enthusiastic associates reflect the strength in depth we have and are seeking to reinforce as we continue our long history of service within the legal profession in Glasgow.

“The three appointments within our private client arm signal a transition from senior directors who are stepping down to retirement or consultancy to younger lawyers with the energy to address current challenges, while at the same time presenting the personal approachability which has long been a hallmark of our service to clients.

“Joyce’s appointment is notable as the second partner appointment within the last year in our commercial property department, following the appointment of our colleague Ken Gerber to the board. We are proud of our track record in the commercial property field and can point to many prestigious clients and transactions over the years. Joyce adds further credibility to our expertise and resource to handle larger commercial deals.

“Heather is the only new director who trained with the firm; she has been with us for seven years; Joyce joined Mitchells Roberton in 2016, Laura in 2018, and Allyson in 2019. They are all held in high esteem by work colleagues and clients alike and contribute strongly to the family atmosphere we seek to engender within the firm.

“The resilience and flexibility of all our colleagues have been critical to surviving and emerging in good shape from this pandemic. Everyone has played a strong and supportive role and worked hard in the best interests of the firm.”

Equity Release Council appoints first legal representative to its Board

The Equity Release Council (the Council) has broadened its industry representation by appointing the first legal member to serve on its main Board.

Claire Barker, Managing Director at Equilaw Ltd and Director at Thomas Legal Group, has taken up her new post as a co-opted Board member for 2020/21, following a competitive selection process among the Council’s legal membership.

Claire brings 20 years of experience in the legal sector to the Board, including over a decade as the owner and Managing Director of national solicitors’ firm Equilaw. Having also served on the Council’s Standards Board since it was established in 2012, she will continue to help evolve industry best practise to ensure consumers receive the highest level of safeguards and protection.

She will form part of a 16-strong Board of Directors made up of members from leading product providers, financial advisers and funders – and the Council’s executive team.

Independent legal advice plays a major part in the equity release process and has been guaranteed to all customers of Council members since industry standards were introduced in 1991.

Claire’s appointment will ensure the property law sector has a seat at the highest level of the Council as a representative body. Wider representation on the Board mirrors the continuing growth of the Council’s membership. In 2020 so far, provider (+8%), adviser (+26%), solicitor (+10%), and associate (+16%) member firms have all grown in number – extending the reach of the Council’s standards to more consumers exploring equity release.

David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council added:

“The expansion of our Board to include dedicated legal representation for the first time will help support our work to ensure the best possible outcomes for consumers. Claire’s appointment underlines the fundamental importance of independent legal advice to anyone considering equity release.

“She will add crucial expertise, diversity and a wealth of knowledge to help inform and guide our work. The Council is committed to leading the way in setting the bar for standards in later life lending as well as helping to navigate effectively though the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

Claire Barker, Managing Director of Equilaw and Director of Thomas Legal Group said:

“I am delighted to join the main Board of the Equity Release Council as the first legal representative, with a particular focus on safeguarding consumers’ best interests.

“The Council carries out extremely important work to continually improve standards in the later life lending sector. For the past eight years, I have sat on the Council’s Standards Board, embedding best practice while ensuring industry stakeholders better understand the reasons behind the key rules and guidance. I look forward to utilising my experience to continue to foster the safe use of equity release.”

SmartSearch named one of UK’s top tech firms for second year running

Pioneering anti-money-laundering firm SmartSearch has been named in the Sunday Times Sage ‘Tech Track 100’ for a second successive year. The list, published on Sunday, recognises Britain’s 100 private tech companies with the fastest-growing sales over a three-year period.

Earlier in the year, the Yorkshire-based firm also reached 15th position in the Sunday Times Profit Track list, which focuses on profits rather than revenues.

SmartSearch is the UK’s leading provider of anti-money-laundering (AML) software. Its unique one-stop digital platform means regulated firms can meet all their ‘Know Your Customer’ and due diligence needs.

Full electronic identity verification and AML checks take just seconds to perform and can be conducted remotely, online or via a fully-integrated app, with no need for the customer to provide physical ID documents. For additional security, a passports or driving licence can be scanned digitally and advanced facial recognition technology used to authenticate customer identity.

SmartSearch has also recently begun piloting its groundbreaking ‘TripleCheck’ technology, which combines electronic verification, biometric facial recognition and digital fraud checks, to create the most robust and secure AML system available on the market.

The firm’s success and continued growth in the UK have recently led to expansion into North America, with the launch of SmartSearch into the US market in July.

John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch

John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch said:

“We have achieved significant year-on-year growth ever since we started SmartSearch in 2011. This is testament to the hard work of the whole team, and it is wonderful to see this recognised in these prestigious listings.

“Never before has electronic verification and anti-money-laundering software been more important. Criminals are developing ever more sophisticated techniques, and global watchdogs have warned that fraudulent activity is on the rise in the wake of Covid-19.

“The restrictions put in place due to coronavirus have made it more important than ever that the wide range of financial and professional services firms likely to be targeted by money-launderers, have access to the very best technology to combat this threat.

“We have created a solution that is quick, affordable and almost instantaneous – as well as being significantly more reliable than manual document checks. A fully digital AML solution is the only way for firms to stay compliant while working remotely.”

 

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