Location: Offices of Grant Thornton UK LLP Edinburgh
Interviewee: Kevin Mapstone
Kevin Mapstone – Trust-Deed.co.uk Interview
1. How would you describe your firm as it compares to others?
Grant Thornton is large and highly respected accountancy firm with offices throughout the UK. The focus of our Scottish personal insolvency business is very much on good service and complete transparency. Many people that are in financial difficulties are particularly vulnerable due to their desperation for a solution, so we feel that it is of utmost importance that time is taken to ensure that clients understand their options fully and are happy that they know exactly what is involved if they do enter into an insolvency procedure.
Another important feature of our service is that clients have direct access to their dedicated case manager throughout their Trust Deed, so are not dealing with different people whenever they contact us.
2. What geographical area do you cover?
We cover the whole of Scotland, including the Highlands and Islands.
3. Who regulates you and how does it protect your clients?
Our insolvency practitioners are regulated by the Insolvency Practitioners' Association and are subject to regular review and inspection. IPA provides guidance to us on how to conduct our business and also serve as a point of complaint if required.
The Accountant in Bankruptcy also has a statutory role, supervising all personal insolvency work in Scotland.
4. What actually happens when someone gets in touch with your firm?
I would speak with the person and answer any pressing queries they may have immediately. We would then usually organise a meeting at their home or their nearest Grant Thornton office to advise on their situation in more detail. At this meeting we can confirm the facts of the case and discuss all of the options that may be suitable. We would then provide written confirmation of the various options, in particular setting out the detail as to how assets such as a home or car would be dealt with. Should they wish to proceed then we can organise a further meeting to complete the formalities.
5. What are the main concerns of those who contact you?
People invariably want to understand how their home or car would be affected by insolvency and of course I am happy to run through this in detail. The other main concern for people is that the procedure will be effective in dealing with their creditors and whether there is a significant likelihood of a Trust Deed failing to become protected. Again I am happy to be able to reassure them about this given my long experience in assisting people in similar situations.
6. The language attached to Scottish Trust Deeds can be very confusing. How do you go about ensuring that your clients understand the commitment they are making?
We avoid using jargon at all times, explain any technical language fully and repeatedly confirm understanding with our clients. We also provide a clear written summary of the process and their obligations under it, as well as information brochures. It is crucial to allow sufficient time for clients to digest the information they have been given so that they can come back with any questions they might have. I always stress that they should take their time, read through everything closely and don't be afraid to ask if there is anything they don't understand.
7. How does your firm deal with assets/equity (especially home and car)?
It is vital to clarify the exact position regarding a person's assets prior to them signing a trust deed, so to avoid any possibility of problems arising afterwards. We always get a professional valuation of a property before a trust deed is signed and require an up to date mortgage redemption figure to be provided so that equity is accurately calculated. We would then provide written confirmation of the position and the agreed method for dealing with any equity.
If a property is in negative equity then we would have no further interest in it and no payment would be required in respect of it. If there is some equity then there would usually need to be funds gathered in for creditors representing this, either from a third party or by making additional payments at the end of the normal trust deed term. Having said that, a reduction is applied to the amount required, taking account of the fact that additional costs would be incurred if the property was being sold instead.
Any car that is reasonably required and is worth under £3000 is ignored. For cars worth more than this we would have to seek for the excess value over £3000 to be paid in to the trust deed in order for the car to be retained. Again this would normally be paid by a third party (if available) or by extra contribution payments. In some cases a person may choose to sell their high-value car and buy a lower-value car with the proceeds to replace it. The remaining funds would then be paid in to the trust deed.
8. In your experience will entering into a Scottish Trust Deed affect someone professionally?
For the vast majority of people there is no effect at all on their job from signing a trust deed, however we recommend that people check their contract of employment just in case. If they are worried then they may benefit from speaking to their Trade Union or HR department for clarification. Professionals should always seek guidance from their professional bodies before acting.
9. Do you charge up-front fees? How are your fees worked out and paid for?
We do not charge up-front fees. The complexity of a case is assessed and we propose our fee level to creditors accordingly at the outset. The client also receives a copy of this information. It is worth emphasising that the fees are paid from the funds gathered in to the trust deed and are not charged additional to that.
10. How often do you recommend solutions other than Scottish Trust Deeds?
It is not really a case of making recommendations, rather discussing all suitable options with our clients so that they are equipped with enough information to choose the route that most suits them. A significant number of people we meet subsequently conclude that another option makes better sense for them.
11. What percentage of the Scottish Trust Deeds you put forward become "protected"?
It is very unusual for a trust deed we propose to fail to become protected. This is simply because of our experience in handling so many protected trust deeds over the years. We know exactly what the vast majority of creditors are willing to accept, so clients who are not likely to get the necessary acceptance will usually choose another more suitable route instead.
12. What happens after a Scottish Trust Deed becomes protected? What contact will people have with your firm?
Each client has a dedicated case administrator, who conducts regular six-monthly reviews to ensure that any issues can be resolved quickly. They are office-based and are available on their direct line should clients wish to speak to them.
13. How do you find being one of the Trust-Deed.co.uk recommended experts?
I find it immensely rewarding being able to assist people who genuinely need help and information. It should not be underestimated how intimidating it may be for people to seek help in person or on the telephone and it makes me genuinely happy that I have the chance to reach out with advice to people who might otherwise just bury their heads in the sand or make themselves sick with worry instead.
Kevin regrets that he cannot communicate directly with visitors about existing protected trust deeds being managed by other companies. If this applies to you, please ask your questions in our Trust Deeds Forums where Kevin and our other experts will do their best to help you.
If you would like Kevin and his team to handle a Scottish Trust Deed for you please fill in the contact form below (or call the site advice team on the advice line numbers provided).