Finders International has asked several key sources about industry regulation over the years and always been informed that this will in all likelihood never happen. A shame, but we will keep exploring all possibilities.

Recently a website calling itself FPAR (Federation of Probate and Asset Researchers) issued claims to be ‘the industry watchdog’. This is a misleading and totally false claim and it’s a pity that this has occurred as it muddies the waters and causes even more confusion. We asked the FPAR to comment on this and they declined, saying they ‘didn’t want to debate this’ – strange for someone whose ambitions seemingly lie in regulatory work.

Setting up organisations such as the “Heir Hunters Association” or the “Federation of Probate And Asset Researchers” is permissible of course. To then suddenly claim they are either a “watchdog” or, as with the Heir Hunters Association, a band of over 500 “professionals” is incorrect and irresponsible. The HHA members do not agree that they are “represented” by the management of the HHA. They do not work as a team and they simply pay a fee for membership, website access and an ‘HHA-UK’ logo in return. They are largely amateurs. Again the HHA declined to comment when we asked them about this.

It is critical to note that should the HHA be contacted or hear about a potential case, this will come at a cost. They are set up to generate income, and the owners receive a commission for successful referred cases. Members of the Board of Directors of the “Heir Hunters Association” or the “Federation of Probate And Asset Researchers” also receive such referred work. Again, we asked the HHA why this system is not made clear or transparent and why it is not mentioned on their website – once more they declined to comment.

Finders International has its own Professional Conduct Code and numerous other credentials which raise the bar in an unregulated industry. We believe we have done more than anyone to raise standards.

With over 40 interviews, press articles, TV and radio appearances in 2015 alone and a recently announced multi-million pound expansion programme Finders International feel we have a duty to make everyone aware of the true situation and to state categorically the current position.

Not one of the main UK firms in our industry has any members of the FPAR or the HHA on their staff.

FPAR and HHA are membership clubs for advice and support for amateurs or hobbyists primarily.

So how can your (genuine) probate research firm improve its’ standing in an unregulated market? I would start by looking at the true professionals websites and see what we have done. There are many organisations you can join to enhance your status, knowledge and professionalism.

As professionals we certainly don’t want or need amateur clubs and societies claiming to be regulators, watchdogs, representatives or professionals. This further confuses an unregulated market.

You can join the HHA or FPAR by paying their membership fess of course, but this does not make any difference to your status in the industry in the eyes of professionals such as solicitors who know that to successfully resolve a case they can only rely on the reports and evidence of a professional. Just ask yourself, would you take a part-time amateur to court to act as an Expert witness or provide testimony?

Our final message is to the public and those who refer cases for research. Don’t be fooled by these organisations, professionals like Finders International are easy to find and easy to contact. We offer free advice and support and most of all, we won’t mislead you or let you down.