Bankruptcy is proving popular for a fresh start


All of our 20 clients who have gone through the bankruptcy process since the beginning of 2014 have expressed delight with their new found debt freedom.

Assignee meetings

After a few initial hiccups with bank accounts all has been plain sailing. Assignee meetings have take place for some of the people which have been conducted in a very professional and understanding manner by the ISI bankruptcy staff. These meetings have been very straight forward with all of the necessary information being supplied to the ISI by NEO Financial prior to the meeting making the meeting as short and painless as possible. There has been some emotion and tears both expressions of relief that the debt stress is now over!

Family Homes

Some people have already sold their family home so for them there has been on issue regarding trying to keep the family home. However, any negative equity remaining after the sale of the family home is now gone.

For those who wish to keep the family home that has not been a problem for the clients who are in this position. They were given clear advice on the process and the fact that they were able to keep up any mortgage payments has been vital in the process. There was no equity in the family homes that are being retained and so the assignee has no interest in confirming his interest in the home. Arrangements are being made to have the assignees interest passed back to the owners with legal fees having to be paid for the paperwork to be completed.

Income

For all of the clients who were made bankrupt their income was less than the reasonable living expenses guidelines as outlined by the ISI for families of their size and make up so there is no question of any payment order being made and unless there is a very significant change in circumstances there will be no such payment order during the 3 years in bankruptcy.

It has been important for us to point out to clients that eh bankruptcy period is 3 years and not 5 as some opponents to bankruptcy keep pointing out. The period can be extended if the circumstances permit. These circumstances are limited in nature and would not apply to many people.

Independent Advice

I cannot stress how important independent advice and plenty of knowledge is the key to a successful debt resolution process. And in a lot of cases solutions like PIA or DSA extending over 5-7 years are not practical nor in the interest of the Debtor and therefore should be avoided.

Liberation

Bankruptcy can be and has been for many this year already the liberator they are looking for. It can be liberation from the shackles of debt, banks, unscrupulous debt collection agencies and solicitors. The bankruptcy process and the assignee is there to assist the debtor and keep unscrupulous creditors away from the debtors. Once a client enters bankruptcy the creditors are not allowed to contact the debt and protection is in place. This alone, for many debtors has been a relief and stress reliever.

 

Paul C Carroll

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Partner

NEO Financial

www.NEOFinancial.ie

Phone: 01 437 0908

 

Central Bank New Debt Resolution Plan


The Central Bank’s new plan for assisting distressed borrowers to get out from under their excessive household debt is, if it works, a welcome addition to the growing (though still largely unimplemented) suggested solutions to the debt cancer that has riddled households throughout the country.

The pilot plan is mainly focused on those who will not qualify for the new Personal Insolvency legalisation because they are not insolvent although they may be having difficulties paying their loans. This would typically include someone who has a home mortgage but not in negative equity and have some other unsecured loans such as credit union loans, credit card debts and/or term loans.

The new pilot plan will, with the assistance of a service provider (SP), bring the lenders together and agree a temporary restructuring of the payments, term and sometimes interest rates on all loans to bring the payments down to a manageable level until such time as the Debtors situation has improved or the loans are cleared. However, the new plan does not envisage any significant write offs of loans and any small write offs of debt will only apply to unsecured debt.

In fact of the 8 scenarios outlined in the debt resolutions “waterfall” in the Framework for a Pilot Approach to the Co-ordinated Resolution of Multiple Debts owed by a Distressed Borrower there is only 1 scenario which envisages any possibility of a debt write down. All of the other scenarios include restructuring however there is interest being charged on all debt of between 4.5% and 9% depending on the debt and level of distress. This is hardly a good deal for the borrower …. as usual!

The level and type of debt that currently exists in households throughout the nation would suggest that this new plan is not going to be a significant problem solver. It will address some small limited cases but not the vast majority of cases where nothing but significant write downs of home loans will provide a solution for the majority of debtors struggling to survive never mind pay their unsecured loans.

The new plan is an indication again that the banks are being pushed slowly towards the cliff of debt forgiveness. Eventually they are going to have to take that leap which will mean that their recapitalisation will happen as discussed in the recent IMF report. This re capitalisation which will be funded by the ECB (not the Irish tax payer) but will have a direct and positive impact on the taxpayer unlike the previous bank bailout which crippled us.

So it looks like we are back to the personal insolvency legalisation and personal insolvency practitioners to get the solutions for people in real distress with their debts. This is where the resolution is and hopefully the insolvency service will be up and running in June as promised so people can finally get long term resolution to their debt problems. And be assured the long term solutions will include significant write off of debts!

 

Paul C Carroll FCCA

Personal Insolvency Partner

NEO Financial Solutions

paul.carroll@neofinancialsolutions.com

Why Reasonable Expenses Will Be Reasonable for Personal Insolvency


The past few weeks have seen the issue of what is “reasonable expenses” and who is going to decide what they are, regularly debated over the airways when it comes to the new personal insolvency act which is coming into operation in June.

The current ‘spin’ is all around making people feel that they are going to be turned upside down and every penny that drops out will be taken and given to the banks. This is of course yet another story the banks love the public to hear so they get scared of thinking about using the insolvency act. However, though the guidelines for reasonable expenses have yet to be published by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), I do not expect that any such shakedown is going to happen to people who find themselves in such difficulty that they have to declare themselves insolvent.

There are a few things that need to be made clear about the new personal insolvency act that will hopefully put people at ease in relation to its use and what it is really intended for.

The first clue is in the name “personal insolvency act”. The act is intended for people who find themselves in debt, to be given a mechanism to get themselves out of debt in a reasonable time with some payments to creditors where possible. It is not intended for the banks to be able to shake down people for everything they have and a bit more (though the banks would like us to think that). Yes there is a kind of veto held by the bank who is owed more than 65% of the total debt. However, that will usually mean that the biggest creditor will have the most to lose if a deal is not done. How often have we heard the more you owe the banks the more they want to do a deal with you? Well this is finally going to reach the ordinary man in the street. So making reasonable expenses unrealistic for people to live will not do anything for the capacity of people to engage with the banks to come to an agreement.

The second thing is to look at the personal insolvency act from the banks point of view (not from the bank spin). It is an opportunity for them to clean up their act and balance sheet, come clean on the extra ordinary amount of bad loans which will have to be written off, get good PR by saying they are supporting the use of the act and most importantly it is an opportunity for them to generate a lot of very much needed cash (and looking at the most recent Bank of Ireland financials it is very very much needed cash!). They are going to generate cash from two sources where they would not otherwise. In the first instance where there are buy to let properties in a portfolio of a person using a personal insolvency agreement these properties will be sold therefore generating the banks immediate cash which otherwise would not be generated. This is the case even if the sale proceeds are lass then the loan amount. Generating 60% of a loan outstanding  and in significant arrears is better than generating 0% which is what is happening right now. They will also benefit from the cash being paid by the Debtor over the lifetime of the personal insolvency agreement.

So it is in the bank’s interest to keep the debtor on side and not too squeeze the life out of them. The banks will not admit it but they need customers and ALL of the people who enter into personal insolvency arrangements will be their customers too.

The final point to consider is when a debtor looks at their position and is seeking to use the personal insolvency act it is likely that in reality they would be better off if they did just declare bankruptcy and not have any commitment to pay any amount over a 6 year period. Yes they would lose their family home and all other significant assets. However, they will lose their other assets anyway in a personal insolvency arrangement and considering the current property market if they do a deal with the banks on a write down on their family home they will possibly still be carrying a small portion of negative equity. So this is not a fantastic ‘get off the hook’ scenario for the debtor as being peddled in some quarters. The banks are very aware of the fact for most people bankruptcy could be a better option but a disaster for the banks and so in the end they will corporate with debtors going through the personal insolvency process because as much as it is seen as a mechanism for the survival of the debtor it is equally as important for the future of the banks.

The ISI is aware of the fine balance needed to engage all parties in the act and in reality it is the Debtor who is going to have to be kept on side for the recovery of the economy and banks. So reasonable will be reasonable!

Debtors need to keep in mind power is numbers and there are going to be very significant numbers going through the insolvency process so there is no need to give in to the shakedown!

 

Paul C Carroll FCCA

Personal Insolvency Expert

www.neofinancialsolutions.com

IFB Bankers Protocol – Debt write off is finally here!


The Irish Bankers Federation (IBF) published a protocol on unsecured debts yesterday to address the biggest household debt crises ever to visit our state. The cost of addressing the household debt could be in the region of €15b to €20b and the bankers’ federation have addressed the issue with a TWO page protocol document! That fact alone demonstrates their total contempt for the issues that face Irish households.

The IBF attempt at addressing the unsecured debt issues with this nonsense of a protocol is merely an attempt to keep people paying their excessive mortgages which the banks gave them in the first place and which they are eventually going to have to write down (not postpone, split or any other fake forbearance).

The very FIRST point in the protocol is that ‘mortgage debt will be prioritised’! Well that is very interesting for a protocol which is meant to address the issue of unsecured debts!

The protocol goes on to suggest that a creditor should give consent to all of their lenders to get together and ‘arrive at appropriate agreements’! Does IBF think we are all stark raving mad? To think that anyone would be crazy enough to believe bankers would do anything but look after themselves in such a process is be utter nonsense.

Let’s be honest the IBF protocol is a last ditch attempt to avoid the inevitable of having to take responsibility for the unmitigated disaster their members created in the mortgage lending market over the past 15 years.

However, there is one very significant positive in the protocol and that is that the IBF have finally acknowledged that debt write off is here and necessary in order to get us out of the crises. Of course the mention of debt write off is couched in obscure language like ‘creditors will discharge the customer from residual unsecured debt’ but it still means debt write off is here and the IBF have finally acknowledged it. This is a first step in a very long road that should have been taken five years ago.

So as usual we have the bankers coming to the table but kicking and screaming all the way and in a last ditch attempt to still keep some control they produce this shambolic protocol which attempts to hijack the already introduced Personal Insolvency Act. Their attempt at this protocol only shows further their contempt for their customers who they made so much money from over the years and whom now they are going to have to give debt write offs too.

The protocol is a document produced out of fear that no matter what debt forgiveness is here and it is slipping from their control.

 

Paul C Carroll

NEO Financial Solutions

Mortgage arrears on the increase and simple solution being ignored


All of the comment yesterday and this morning on the current mortgage arrears situation miss one very important point and that is the significant number of people who are not yet in arrears but who will be in the coming months. The number of people who come to see me who are not yet in arrears is still rising and is of great concern since they are not in any of the arrears figures published yesterday.

Despite what the banks and government want us to believe this problem is getting bigger and nobody is taking it seriously enough to stem the tide. In the Irish times today David Hall of Irish mortgage holds association makes this same point better then I could and has been for some time.

In my recent interview on RTE I spoke of the current environment being different and nothing like what we have seen before. Well it seems to be getting worse through lack of action not because of lack of solutions. In fact since that interview solutions have dried up, banks have been given instructions by the central bank and government NOT to do any deals for debt forgiveness with borrowers. This is the continuation of the government policy of looking after the fat cats and make the people in trouble or most vulnerable pay more.

The upcoming Personal Insolvency Legalisation has been tainted by the fat cat banks and been allowed by the government. So if the banks do not play ball then the legalisation will be another failure for a government which has turned its back on the ordinary people.

It is obvious to everyone that there is a massive household debt problem here which is holding back the people economically and emotionally. This needs to be addressed and quickly. Our leaders should hop on the government jet and head not to Brussels for fancy meetings and dinners but head west to Iceland where they have solved the household debt problem simply and quickly. The Icelandic government nationalised their banks (as we effectively have done) then instructed them to write down all home mortgages to 110% of the property value. This had the effect of releasing the ordinary people from the excesses of massive household debt and in turn helped their economy to become the fastest growing economy in the western world.

Not only that but after having had to let their banks go bust and default on major loans they have successfully returned to the bond markets. The bond traders know how to get their money back when a default happens and that is to lend again! This is something which seems to have passed our government and their advisors by.

The mortgage arrears problems are not going to go away with tinkering around the edges. If the tinkering continues the economic disaster we are experiencing will only get worse! And it looks like that is what is in store for us for a long while!

 

Paul C Carroll

www.neofinancialsolutions.com

AIB Interest rate Increase part of the Enda Kenny “Celtic Comeback”??


The increase by AIB in their mortgage interest rates last week is another element of the scam that is continuing in this country by the elite professional and political classes. These classes are described so well in the recently published book by Shane Ross and Nick Webb The Untouchables.

Another element of the scam is that we must continue to pretend that things are getting better in Ireland. The economy is recovering, people are slowly recovering, property prices are stabilising, unemployment is stabilising, etc..  This is being peddled because it is important for “the Untouchables” to create this illusion about Ireland being the Good Boy in the class of austerity so their position of overpaid offices and professional fees continues.

How on this earth can it be justified that the bank owned by the state is allowed to put up interest rates on people who are already struggling except for the creation of an illusion that AIB will recover. We all know that the increase in the interest rates will make AIB worse and not better. It will simply cause more people to fall into arrears. It may also cause some people to reflect on why at all they should be paying anything on a loan which is possibly in excess of 50% greater then the value of the property it is on! Why Bother? Why Bother?

It seems the chief driver of the scam is none other than our leader and poster boy of “the Celtic Comeback” Enda Kenny. He is on the front of Time Magazine peddling the comeback scam and today insists that AIB are right in increasing rates to ensure its recovery! What about the recovery of the people? What about the Celtic Comeback of the people? Or do the people not matter as long as AIB and the other Untouchables are looked after? Is that what Mr. Kenny considers a comeback? AIB, BIO, Anglo, PTSB, EBS and Nationwide can all have debt forgiveness but the ordinary person cannot that is a comeback? I do not think so Mr. Kenny!

In the interview by Mick Wallace TD on the Marion Finucane Show on RTE radio 1 he said that one of the things that strikes him most about the Dail is how out of touch most people are there! Well it seems he is right on that one and the more Mr. Kenny goes on about the comeback the more Mick Wallace is right! Somehow we need to drag these guys back into the real world. Let them sample the “comeback” and see how it feels!

There can be no comeback unless excess household debt is addressed, the real level mortgage arrears are admitted to and the national current account deficit is addressed.

Paul Carroll FCCA

www.neofinancialsolutions.com

Political Appointments, Judges, Top Public and ESB/ Bord Gais for sale! The SCAM continues


Justice Peter Kelly had the guts to say what we all have known since this government has taken power “the more things change the more things stay the same”. The extent of broken promises by Enda and his band of merry men on their election campaign has not only been limited to not standing up to the Trika on bond holders. Now it seems that it has continued the cronyism they so criticised the last government for. Not only do over 30% of the judicial appointments have direct political connections to government parties but the political connections are more important than the ability of the appointee!

Added to this insult to the people who elected the government on a false mandate we now see that Judges are paid in excess of €150,000 pa. They are joined by ALL politicians who get in excess of €150,000pa and over 3,000 top public servants who earn in excess of €150,000pa. Who says that you have to pay peanuts to get monkeys? These people are grossly overpaid for the job they have been doing. These are the people we are relying on to give us proper justice, implement fair plans and legislation to ensure that the people of this country will be able to get back to having a decent living. Yet if they do the things that need to be done they will be the first to be found out. Is there any wonder 5 years on we in Ireland Inc. are going further into depression. And today the Central Bank says it may continue until 2010!

These same people have stood over the grossly unfair rises on utility bills just so that another band of overpaid people can continue with their lavish lives at a direct cost to the Irish people. We are told that this is part of the process of getting the utility companies of ESB and Bord Gais ready for privatisation.

This is another scam! So we are going to take more out of the Irish people’s pockets by way of increased utility bills. Then we are going to sell the utility companies in a depressed market getting poor prices for them. But here is the real kicker …… who is going to buy the ESB and Bord Gais at knock down prices …….. the very same BOND HOLDERS we bailed out at TOP prices! How come? Because they have the money (the money we gave them)! And believe me they think Ireland is a great place to do business. And why not since they made a really bad investment in the Irish banks…. all now bust … but they managed to get 100% of their money back PLUS interest.

And who is overseeing this SCAM? The same band of €150,000+ public servant earners. No Wonder capital markets are back open to the Irish if in return the bond holders can partake in such a lucrative scam!

Paul C Carroll FCCA

Personal Insolvency Bill 2012


The Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 was published yesterday without the usual fanfare associated with our current government’s announcements about their attempts to fix our broken state. The announcement was somewhat overshadowed with the (another) seismic shift by the EU on another form of debt relief  … Bank Debts …. Let’s all recognise debt forgiveness is alive and well but just not it seems for the ordinary person!

As some commentators have already stated the banks fingerprints are all over this bill which I would agree with. I also see that the finger prints of our privileged professional classes are also all over the bill too. Items which are unnecessary but included such as the necessity for an annual review of a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) and many court filings smack of professional fee generating schemes and not adding any particular value to the process or to the debtors situation.

I would have several concerns with the bill as it currently is, the first of which is the amount of time a person who makes one of the 3 proposed arrangements available with their creditors is tied up in the arrangement. The time can be anything from 3 years in the case of very small arrangements under the Debt Relief Notice (DRN) to 7 years in a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA). Is it really in the ordinary persons interest to be tied up for such a long time given that they have faced up to their debt issues and just want to get on with their lives?

Another major concern is with the position of strength of the creditors in all of the arrangements where at least 50% and in some cases 65% of all creditors have to agree to the arrangement. This effectively gives the creditor (in most cases the bank) control and we know they just inflect more hardship when they are in charge.

A very worrying aspect of the bill is the ability of a creditor to claw back some debt previously written off! So after the ordinary person puts themselves and their family through one of the arrangements, suffers the stress, worry and loss invariably suffered from the process. Then has some bit of good luck, in say 4 years time after the arrangement is made, most likely after a lot of hard work the bank is the one to gain from the good fortune! What kind of debt resolution is that?

The most positive aspect of the bill is the reduction of the term of bankruptcy, if someone takes the ultimate plunge, from 12 to 3 years. After the 3 year term is up there is an automatic discharge. The 3 year term is longer than the 1 year term in Northern Ireland and the UK but it is progress. Given the terms and length of the 3 proposed arrangements in the bill anyone with significant debts maybe better off  just go ahead with declaring bankruptcy and the 7 year ‘sentence’, annual reviews and possible claw back imposed by the so called arrangements could be avoided.

Paul C Carroll FCCA, Neo Financial Solutions, paul.carroll@neofinancialsolutions.com 01 4370908

Negative Equity Mortgages


We have seen some attempt for banks to suggest that in limited cased negative equity loans can be a solution to some peoples housing problems. In particular where a couple have been in a small apartment and now wish to move to a house or larger apartment for expanding family reasons. However, in many such cases the original apartment is in negative equity in other words what the apartment is sold for will not cover the outstanding mortgage. Some banks may suggest you carry this deficit on too the next mortgage in the new house. This is a complete disaster for the customer and only benefits the bank by not having to realise the loss on the loan. So what the bank wants the ordinary people to do is to take the loss while they, the Banks, have the customer on the hook for another 20 or 30 years! Do not let this happen to you EVER!