Ascent

Ascent is a specialist debt recovery firm and the UK’s most successful legal collections and recoveries business.

Ascent is a specialist law firm and financial services business providing arrears management, mediation, debt collection, litigation and recovery services across the UK.

Ascent is directly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority having been the first major business in its market to achieve direct permissions from the FCA. In addition, as a law firm, Ascent is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The company has a broad client base which includes most of the UK’s leading financial institutions, a number of global corporates and (through a different trading style) a wide range of smaller businesses.

Ascent is wholly owned by its parent, Irwin Mitchell Holdings Limited. Like Irwin Mitchell, Ascent is committed to working in partnership with clients. In particular, Ascent’s key strategic priorities are:

  • 1. To Do the Right Thing for Customers, Always
  • 2. To lead our markets in providing the best customer experience and
  • 3. To deliver outstanding performance which allows our clients to meet their business targets

We continue to be a profitable and long term sustainable business which creates opportunities and career paths for all of our people and which creates opportunities for our group colleagues to build and develop cross group client relationships.

Our Culture

We understand that the customer must be at the heart of every transaction and have embedded this approach throughout every part of our organisation.

The commitment of all our people to this approach enables us to deliver on our vision of ‘leading the way by doing the right thing for customers, always’ to ensure high customer engagement and satisfaction levels.

To embed this proactive customer centric approach, we have implemented our ‘Do the right thing!’ practical conduct risk campaign. This campaign engages all staff on the importance of delivering the right outcomes in all interactions, from field service visits through to collections, litigation and enforcement.

Values

Our carefully identified values reinforce our vision of ‘leading the way by doing the right thing for customers, always’. Our values are:

  • To be pioneering with an imaginative outlook
  • To be approachable and caring
  • To be tenacious in the pursuit of our objectives
  • To be efficient in the provision of our services
  • With a foundation of integrity

All our staff are trained in and required to live these values and we take pride in displaying them in every customer interaction.

Ascent Performance Group Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Irwin Mitchell Holdings Ltd . This group also includes Irwin Mitchell LLP, the UK’s largest full service law firm with its long established, strong reputation.

Ascent was established in 2009. Since its creation it has become the UK’s most successful and significant force in the legal collections & recoveries marketplace.

Our Services

Customer & Quality Assurance

At Ascent, we operate a continuous compliance and improvement cycle, constantly reviewing our business to ensure that our divisions operate ethically and deliver a quality service to our customers and clients while always focusing on compliance standards throughout our account lifecycle and a customer’s journey. Treating customers fairly has long been a focus for our industry and Ascent puts the customer firmly at the centre of the business and the heart of every transaction.

We continue to invest significant amounts of time, money and effort into driving forwards our compliance agenda as we firmly believe this to be the only option in retaining our status as a leading edge supplier to our industry partners.

Information regarding quality and compliance can be found throughout our website. Should you have any specific queries with regard to any aspect of quality or compliance please do not hesitate to contact our compliance team – compliance@ascent.co.uk

Quality Management

We operate a state of the art quality management software system across all areas of our business. This delivers powerful reporting that works alongside our people based activity allowing us to evidence, control and manage quality and compliance effectively.

Our Trade Body – The Credit Service Association

CSA

The Credit Services Association (CSA) is the only National Association in the UK for companies active in relation to unpaid credit accounts, debt recovery agencies, tracing and allied professional services and has a history dating back to 1902.

As a member we conduct all business in line with the CSA Code of Practice.

Ascent is proud to actively participate in a number of CSA programmes that have been set up to drive improvements of standards within our industry.

Collector Accreditation Initiative

We are accredited under the CSA collector accreditation initiative. The Collector Accreditation Initiative (CAI) is an online test designed to assess our collectors’ knowledge and scope of understanding regarding sector Compliance. The test encompasses individual awareness of relevant Regulatory Guidance and the Legislative Framework.

SSG & UKAS Certification

Ascent is fully accredited to ISO 9001:2008 standard which is externally accredited by SGS. Our Business Improvement team perform regular internal audits to ensure that quality standards are maintained to the highest standards within all of our teams and divisions.

Part of the Irwin Mitchell Group

Established in 2009, Ascent is a wholly owned subsidiary of Irwin Mitchell Holdings Ltd, and as such is part of the Irwin Mitchell Group of companies. Today, Irwin Mitchell is the 11th largest law firm in the UK and amongst the top 50 in Europe, operating out of 17 UK offices. It employs over 2800 members of staff, including over 1,000 legally trained personnel.

Our Consumer Brand

We recognise that getting into debt can be a source of stress for many consumers. Our job is to make it as easy as possible to find a way forward and put debt issues into the past. Naturally we want to help resolve past credit issues as quickly as possible, but we pride ourselves on our flexibility to help people to get back on track financially. For more information, visit our consumer site for payment help and where to get advice for all consumer debt related needs


Management Team

Mark Higgins Chairman

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Specialist Areas: Litigation, dispute resolution and legislative requirements

Mark is an experienced lawyer and is a well-known expert in debt collection and recovery. He is responsible for acting on behalf of financial institutions in the collection and recovery of their debt, including both the provision of legal advice to banks and other FCA regulated institutions, and also the supervision and management of recovering on portfolios in a highly regulated environment. He has written two books on this area, the most recent of which includes an analysis of the MCOB regulatory landscape.

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Niall Gilhooley Chief Executive Officer

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Specialist Areas: Volume process management, debt recovery, litigation, customer rehabilitation and client management

Niall has led Ascent since its formation in 2009, drawing on his experience gained in the financial services and credit management sectors delivering both office and field based solutions. That experience has been put to good use developing Ascent’s products and services, so that they are robust, innovative and ensure fair outcomes for customers.

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Myra Scott Head of Legal and Regulatory Compliance

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Specialist Areas: Dispute resolution, property litigation

Myra is Head of Legal for Ascent Legal Scotland and has over 20 years’ experience as a technical litigation lawyer, 16 of which have been with Ascent. Myra is in charge of our award-winning Banking Finance Litigation team and also a Pro Bono Partner at Irwin Mitchell Scotland. Myra also leads Ascent’s Conduct Risk & Compliance team to ensure we deliver a market leading position with regards to FCA expectations. As an expert in legal debt recovery, Myra has been appointed as an Accredited Specialist in debt and asset recovery by the Law Society of Scotland.

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Dave Whittaker Chief Operating Officer - Field Services

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Specialist Areas: Field services, debt recovery

David has worked in financial services for over 20 years. After starting his career with a major UK banking institution, David then worked in various roles linked to debt recovery. His roles have involved senior operational management responsibilities within a debt collection agency and for a major debt purchaser. David is responsible for the day to day operational management and process execution within the field service division of Ascent Performance Group Ltd.

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Andrew Merrick Compliance Office for Financial Administration

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Specialist Areas: Financial management, treasury, business planning

Andrew is on the Board of Ascent and CFO of Irwin Mitchell Group. Andrew has significant financial experience having been FD of Dart Group, an AIM listed Aviation and Distribution Group, and held a number of senior Finance roles at other large corporations. He will undertake the role of Compliance Officer Finance and Administration (COFA) in relation to our SRA authorisation and has responsibility for ensuring compliance with the SRA Accounts Rules.

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Laurence Gavin Compliance Officer for Legal Practice

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Specialist Areas: Risk and compliance, commercial, corporate and finance law

Laurence is a company and commercial lawyer, advising clients in regulated sectors including financial services on contractual and compliance issues. Within Ascent Performance Group Ltd Laurence is the Compliance Officer Legal Practice (COLP) with ultimate responsible for compliance with our SRA regulatory requirements. He is supported in carrying out his COLP role by a central Irwin Mitchell Group risk and compliance team of 30 compliance professionals.

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Glen Walker Chief Compliance Officer

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Specialist Areas:

Glen leads the Conduct and Risk teams at Ascent Performance Group looking after all aspects of regulatory compliance, audit, risk and quality management. Glen ensures that Ascent deploys a progressive and proactive approach to conduct and risk management that our clients can be confident in.

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Christian Driffield ACA Financial Controller

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Specialist Areas: Financial reporting, commercial financial reviews, forecasting

Christian has over 10 years’ experience in senior finance positions in large corporations, with particular focus on businesses operating in highly regulated environments, such as publicly listed companies and legal firms. Christian is the finance lead for all aspects of Finance including financial control and reporting, providing commercial guidance and support in operational and strategic decisions, and monitoring and maintaining financial controls to safeguard client and company assets and ensuring regulatory compliance.

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Matt Currall Chief Operating Officer

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Specialist Areas: Operational Management, Business Process Improvement, Client Management within Customer Service, Retention and Sales Functions

Matt joined Ascent Performance Group in 2016 as Chief Operating Officer. Matt has extensive operational experience across a range of industries and geographies through previous roles performed for Barclaycard, Endsleigh and Vitality. Matt has overall responsibility for the operational performance of the firm and is focussed on building an effective and efficient operational infrastructure to enable sustainable growth in the firm over the coming years.

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