Getting through the heavy lifting of debt mediation, one result at a time

We had another successful outcome with a lender and thought that it might be worth describing in terms of how it came about and how it worked out.

This time it was Bank of Ireland who many say (in the past ourselves included) are notoriously difficult to deal with, while they are not easy (as none of them are) we have noticed a definite thaw in recent months in how they deal with negotiators which is a positive development.

The client in question has a job in the public sector (many in mortgage arrears do), but has faced various reductions in income and tax increases which resulted in payments being missed.

They engaged with the bank to no avail, spoke to another firm who they heard offer debt mediation for free but then got a quote and that kind of annoyed them so they called us. We suggested that if they wanted free service they go back to the provider who they spoke to first, that provider sent out a standard financial statement reminding them it would cost upwards of €400 to fix, and then they called again.

Once more we stressed that we are not the same as some of the others in this space and that perhaps they should call New Beginning who are regulated for this business and are the longest running firm in the new advocacy space, they were super busy and could help but it would take a little time and also a nominal file opening fee.

The client wanted a meeting quickly and they didn’t want to just get the same form in the post that the bank sent out. We explained our fee, our average cost to completion and what they could expect.

We met, there was some frustration on the clients behalf with how things had gone to this point, and then apart from going through the required forms with them, we also discussed various strategies, what we would look for and a few other issues of concern.

In almost every case we examine the compliance of the lender to date, this is something that is often overlooked, it isn’t just about ordering a Part 4 data request or making an FSO complaint as part of the missiles over the wall approach, it’s about looking for arrears where the lender may have circumvented various pieces of consumer or regulatory code.

The approach that often works is to give the lender a menu of choices, often this is a one page breakdown based on the SFS which then gives various options they can choose from, sometimes they don’t like any of them, sometimes they go for the one we like best, it always varies.

In this case we were looking for a split mortgage which in previous attempts had gone nowhere. Upon demonstrating the long term reasoning behind the split, that there had been a non-adherance to a regulatory process (in our view, this was never admitted to by the lender), we did the creditor meeting.

It was cordial, rather non-impressive, there was no banging on the tables, no high-browed speeches of how the banks owed it to the nation or any of the other nonsense that seems to dictate the narrative of late.

Then we called people we know who work in the ASU who once upon a time were on the credit side of the house, knowing them for many years has proven invaluable in terms of speed of resolution, and we got a deal signed off an completed two weeks later.

We estimate that the client was doing the back and forth for a year and getting nowhere, with us it was all wrapped up in about a quarter of that time and a large portion of that time-frame was spent waiting for an FSO issue to be resolved and the part 4 request.

Does it pay to use a debt mediator? I would think so, should you pay them? I don’t really care, I do know that we don’t work for free, but none of the people in the whole industry do, they make a living somewhere, either in other activities, indirectly or otherwise. One frustration is when competing firms look down their nose at people who charge for their work, say that they don’t do this but in fact their clients do get charged, it’s singing two separate songs and is disingenuous.

In yesterdays ‘deep arrears’ figures I can’t help but wonder about the success rate of brokers seeking resolutions (broker meaning anybody who gets between the client and lender) versus those who don’t use them. We don’t know the figures but suspect they would show a higher trend towards resolution when people get a professional on their side.

One last thing, while we do charge, we did it for cheaper than our competitors, but that obviously won’t make any headlines.


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