Eric Roe MCICM Solicitor & High Court Enforcement Officer looks at his own journey into High Court enforcement and how the new education pathway can strengthen and expand the profession.
The strength of the enforcement profession lies with its people. Attracting new talent with a wide skillset is integral to the future of the industry and its modernisation. The recent collaboration between the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) and the CICM on education pathways aims to do just that.
When I was younger, I never envisaged myself as a High Court Enforcement Officer and always wanted to be to be a pilot in the RAF or find a job that could take me round the world. A few changes on my university application later and I started on my journey to become a solicitor. Little did I know that my career was to deviate again, and today at the age of 29, I am authorised as both a solicitor and a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
If anyone had asked me until fairly recently whether I would have the skills and characteristics to be in the High Court Enforcement profession, I would have said “no”. My own, limited understanding was that it was a hard, demanding job that always seemed to be under heavy scrutiny. I thought that it was catered for those who were accustomed to confrontation and high-risk situations. I felt that I wouldn’t have been an obvious candidate, but actually, that was not the case.
My day to day tasks as a High Court Enforcement Officer range from large scale operations involving the Police, rope climbers and a full team of agents to cases that I work on by myself. The job itself demands that you understand a variety of complex situations as they can involve a number of different stakeholders and their interests. It also, against misconception, requires you to be empathetic and understanding, providing support and advice to debtors regularly. Therefore, it’s important for the profession to attract new candidates from a wide range of professional and personal backgrounds.
There’s a strong sense of community expanding across the enforcement sector, with many different roles coming together internally and externally to help organisations succeed in an area with sometimes sensitive subject matter. Being a High Court Enforcement Officer demands you to be collaborative - that is what attracted me to the role and is still something I really enjoy about it.
My experience has taught me that you need be creative, forward thinking and work well with others to succeed in this profession. The enforcement world is rapidly evolving and is having to advance quickly in an ever-modernising society. Even in the short time since I qualified it has dramatically changed, especially as the court system steps towards digitalisation and society still grapples with how more established roles and positions, such as High Court Enforcement Officers, fit in the modern landscape. This challenge is what is enticing more young people to enter this sector to help shape its future, which is why the collaboration between the HCEOA and CICM on this new education pathway is so important.
Moving forward, HCEOA and the CICM are always looking at how we can continue to strengthen and expand the enforcement profession. As with all sectors, this starts with the people who are a part of it. To ensure that we attract and train the best individuals, extensive work has been completed this year to modernise our education pathway to make is accessible to all. To do this fairly and independently a decision was made by the HCEOA for all courses to be completed through CICM as its official assessor. This will also help to streamline the pathway to becoming a HCEO by making it all digital and in one place.
As a member of the Education Working Party for the HCEOA, I have reviewed and edited various parts of the course to ensure that it is relevant to the modern day HCEO, as well as contributing to modules on the history of enforcement and its relevance today.
When I was undertaking the soon to be old education pathway I was sent by Andrew Wilson, my training principal at the time, to scour the books for answers and come back when I had found them, which could be quite time consuming. Thankfully, the development of extensive learning resources on the HCEOA website can now be used alongside those already provided on the CICM portal in an effort to make materials more accessible and ease the learning process.
Looking back now at the different roles I have had, and industries I have been involved in, I have always come back to High Court enforcement. Not all my first assumptions were wrong, you do need to be hard working and it can be a very demanding job, but it can also be very rewarding and challenging. It is a fast-paced sector, that in my experience, is working hard to achieve the best results for all customers involved and as a HCEO you are an essential part of the team.
If you believe that you are a dynamic, creative individual who likes a challenge, then being a High Court Enforcement Officer may just be the right role for you.
Find out more at www.hceoa.org.uk/about-us/become-a-member.