Another six months have flown by during which time plenty has happened on the international and national stage including the election of the Conservative Party into government.
The first Tory Budget since 1996, announced on 8 July, was widely trailed in many respects. The UK Technical Committee has already been preparing for changes to the non-domicile rules and will no doubt be busy responding to these proposals and the various Consultations.
In February we had a very successful Branch Chairs’ Assembly at which STEP CEO David Harvey gave an overview of the major issues faced by STEP. He noted that there was much to be optimistic about although there are a number of challenges facing STEP and its members over the next few years. We are no doubt all aware of this in terms of regulatory requirements, which continue to increase.
Another challenge is ensuring that we remain relevant to our members in terms of the resources, training, networking and brand. We are conscious that different branches have different pressures for a variety of reasons and want to ensure that we provide as much assistance as we can to help them thrive. STEP’s Worldwide Chair Ed Buckland attended the Branch Chairs’ Assembly and advised that the key question to ask was ‘what can STEP do for me?’. Please do therefore feed back to me or staff at STEP on ideas you may have for supporting and strengthening your branch or STEP generally.
The first months of STEP’s new brand was raised at the Branch Chairs Assembly following its launch earlier this year. The new brand clearly sets out the over-arching nature of members’ work in the new strapline ‘Advising Families Across Generations’. This has been well received and the strapline reflects a core aim of members.
We were also delighted to have Professor Elizabeth Cooke to talk about the upcoming Law Commission Wills Review. This led to lively discussion on issues such as mutual wills, joint wills, the test for capacity, rectification and formalities for making a will. It was therefore disappointing later to learn that the Government has asked the Commission to put this project on the backburner while they review the law relating to the solemnisation of marriage. Hopefully we will see this issue back at the forefront sometime in the near future.
Yet again the Spring Tax, Trusts and Estates Conferences have been very well attended and well received and we are extremely grateful to all our speakers for giving of their time and expertise. It is clear that one of the particular benefits that members most appreciate is the technical expertise that STEP provides in one form or another, including conferences, webinars, technical notes and courses. I am extremely grateful to everyone who is involved with these areas and with the representations made to government and international organisations. We have excellent Technical, Practice and Public Policy Committees, the members of which work very hard to support us all.
You will also be aware that there have been various changes to the education framework designed to give greater clarity, which have been well received. More recently Director of Professional Development Nigel Race and his team have been implementing the pilot of the new Employer Training Scheme (ETS). A number of organisations have already signed up to
take part in the ETS and more potential partner organisations have been identified. It has been encouraging to see a number of accountancy firms engaged with this as well as lawyers and financial services. Our thanks go to Nigel and his team for their hard work in this and seeking to engage with new members who will become part of the lifeblood of STEP.
We will shortly have the tenth annual STEP Private Client Awards, which
is a great occasion and enables us to celebrate the excellence of our peers around the world. This year again there are a number of practitioners from England and Wales vying to take home a coveted PCA. I wish them all the very best of luck.
On 9 December there is to be a Leaders’ Forum in London looking at the future member offer in a time of disruptive change. This will mean a strong emphasis on professional development and on the courses and related services that STEP should produce to support member careers over the coming years. STEP can only thrive and survive if the Society stays ahead of change to remain highly relevant to members and their careers and clients. This imperative is central to the STEP 2021 Business Plan. The Leaders’ Forum will help us achieve clarity about some of the bricks and building blocks of the professional development and related service offers for the next few years.
I would like to thank all of those at the STEP Office who not only support the England and Wales Regional Committee directly but who work hard in making sure that STEP remains relevant to its members and keeps up-to-date in an ever-changing world.
Elections for STEP Council and the England and Wales Regional committee open shortly so do consider getting involved. None of us have a monopoly on ideas, enthusiasm or youth!
Before I wish the summer away I trust you all get some form of break that will refresh and reenergise you.
Alex Elphinston TEP is Chair of STEP’s England and Wales Regional Committee