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“Perfect storm” set to slash number of conveyancing firms, says survey

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Conveyancing: falling transaction volumes threaten firms

Competition over fees, reduced work volumes and other worries will result in far fewer firms specialising in conveyancing in the future, a new survey has predicted.

The poll of Conveyancing Association members found them anxious about the future, with alternative business structures (ABSs) and reduced lender panels key sources of concern.

At the same time, the firm recognised that lenders are entitled to restrict their panels to manage the risk and that it is up to the industry to work with them to demonstrate they can readily meet lenders’ requirements.

In fact, the survey found that members also saw the changes that will follow as a chance to root out those firms that are either incompetent or fraudulent.

There was recognition that ABS will have an impact on the industry but it found that this will present opportunities as well as increased competition.

Over a fifth of members (22%) cited the impact of changes to professional indemnity insurance as their biggest worry. This may lead to lenders demanding greater transparency about firms’ insurance arrangements as they become more active in supervising and monitoring activity so that it sufficiently covers their risk.

Conveyancing Association chairman Eddie Goldsmith said the results reflected the sentiment that has been rippling through the conveyancing industry for some time, coming together to create “a perfect storm that will force conveyancers to make changes to their business. The danger is that if conveyancers don’t re-assess their business models, don’t improve their standards or qualities and don’t demonstrate effective fraud prevention methods, they will simply lose business”.

Mr Goldsmith said that as a result the association is set to hold meetings with lenders and other stakeholders “to agree processes and protocols that will distinguish our members from other non CA firms and demonstrate how our members are the natural preferred legal partners”.

The results also showed that all members who are eligible for the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme have either applied or are in the process of applying.