VSJ – November 2002 – Members’ News

The Director General, Mike Ryan, writes about IAP recruitment and the continuing saga of Miller Fisher and the direct debits.

New incentives to get your friends into the IAP

Readers who are amused (or occasionally enraged!) by the Institution’s advertisements in the computer press might be surprised to know that most people who join the Institution do so as the result of recommendation by an existing member. Advertising is important because it spreads news of the Institution to people who might not otherwise hear about us at all, but it is not our most important source of new members.

Many of you will have friends and colleagues at work who could benefit from IAP membership. To help break the ice the Council has commissioned an A4 poster, based on one of our regular advertisements, suitable for pinning on staff notice boards. We are planning to mail copies to everyone later this month with next year’s diaries.

In a sporting spirit we have commissioned some very nice shields with the IAP Coat of Arms hand painted in full colour, the name of the Institution on a scroll above, and space for a member’s name below. These shields would look good on any office wall or desk. But they are not for sale! They are absolutely free, and will be given to every existing member of the IAP who sponsors a friend to join us at Associate Member level or above. A colour photo of a sample shield will be mailed out later this month, but the scheme starts immediately.

For many years it has been the IAP’s policy to attract a quality membership. This has paid off and the quality of the applicants joining us today is consistently very high. This is only partly the result of raised admission standards. It is mainly because computing professionals increasingly recognise the quality of the IAP’s existing membership and want to be part of it.

A drive for quality makes it more difficult to achieve the membership growth that is needed for the IAP to raise its profile further with employers and the general public. But we will all benefit if that can be achieved. Every time a new person joins the IAP, a little bit of added prestige rubs off on each one of our existing members.

Collapse of Miller Fisher (NLA)

Due to our editorial deadline, the direct debit information published in September’s edition of VSJ was wrong, having been overtaken by events long before it appeared.

We were told that Miller Fisher, a company that had taken over our previous agents, Neil Lewis Associates (NLA), was itself being taken over by Rubicon. As with the NLA take-over, services to the IAP would be unaffected.

What really happened is that following events described by ex-employees as ‘Enron-style’, Miller Fisher crashed spectacularly on July 7th. The company’s main business had been processing insurance claims and a competitor, Rubicon, quickly agreed to buy those parts of the operation from the Administrators. But Rubicon declined to carry on the loss-leading direct debiting activities. This meant the Institution suddenly found itself unable to collect subscriptions by direct debit and urgent alternative arrangements had to be made.

While this will cause short-term problems, the Institution is an independent company and should not suffer financially in the long run. However, it is now becoming clear that Miller Fisher was actually processing some IAP subscriptions when trading ceased. 125 members were due to be debited in July, though it now appears these debits were processed through several different routes, not all of which were activated. Those who were debited will find that, due to the inexplicable lag in the BACS system, the money didn’t leave their accounts until July 19th. As this was after the Administrator took over, we expect to get it back eventually. In the meantime, the Institution is crediting any member who can show that he or she has paid money out, even if we haven’t received it yet.

We realise this debacle causes inconvenience for members as it does for the office, but your patience will be much appreciated while the problem works its way out of the system.

[Don’t forget to email eo@iap.org.uk with items of news about you or your company.]

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