Date: 17th January 2018
Location: Offices of Wylie & Bisset LLP, Glasgow
How would you describe your firm?
Wylie & Bisset LLP is a significant independent firm which has been providing debt solutions for people in financial distress for over 30 years. WB Debtcare is the consumer debt solutions arm of Wylie & Bisset LLP. We work closely with Citizens Advice Direct and Citizens Advice Bureaux throughout Scotland.
We promote a personal touch when dealing with client enquiries and focus on providing good customer service. All of our assessments will involve a face-to-face meeting prior to entering into one of the solutions we offer. This helps to ensure that all parties have a full understanding about their options and choices. When an initial enquiry is received, the advisor you speak with initially will remain a point of contact throughout your trust deed, debt arrangement scheme (DAS) or sequestration.
What geographical area do you cover?
We cover the whole of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands.
Who regulates your firm?
Our firm is regulated by ICAS (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) and our Insolvency Practitioners are authorised and regulated by the Insolvency Practitioners’ Association. The IPA conducts regular reviews and inspections of our business and operations.
We are also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. We are also members of Money Advice Scotland.
The Accountant in Bankruptcy has a statutory role in overseeing all protected trust deeds and is also the debt arrangement scheme (DAS) administrator.
What happens when someone gets in touch with you?
Upon receipt of an enquiry we will contact the client to discuss their current financial difficulties.
After a discussion regarding all the suitable options which appear to be available, if the client wishes, we will then schedule a face-to-face meeting. This can take place at one of our offices or in the client’s home. Everything discussed on the telephone will then be discussed again face-to-face in order to encourage discussion and understanding.
If a client wishes to proceed with a trust deed we will complete the initial paperwork. Following this, an engagement letter (“proposed trust deed agreement”) will then be issued to the client confirming exactly how their trust deed will work, the duration, payments, and what the position is with their assets (such as their home or car). This letter provides a seven day cooling-off period; if the client is unsure about anything they are able to stop the trust deed from going ahead.
What are the main concerns of those who contact you?
Clients often ask us if they will lose their home, whether someone will come into their house and take their household possessions, or whether other assets that they own are in jeopardy. Thankfully an initial chat usually alleviates these concerns and put the clients mind at ease. Other common questions includes whether their trust deed will be publicised. We are generally able to advise clients that it is extremely unlikely that anyone will find out if they were to go ahead with a trust deed.
Many people are also reassured when we explain how trust deeds themselves, and our firm, are well regulated both by insolvency authorising bodies and also the Accountant in Bankruptcy.
The language attached to protected trust deeds can be very confusing. How do you go about ensuring that your clients understand the commitment they are making?
When a potential client contacts us our trained administrators will discuss the various options available to them. All clients who then wish to proceed further will subsequently receive a face-to-face assessment. This allows us to satisfy ourselves that the client fully understands the trust deed process. It also allows the client to ask as many questions as they wish to so that they know precisely what is expected of them, and what will actually happen in reality, if they decide to sign a trust deed.
If the client opts to enter into a trust deed then an “engagement letter” (proposed trust deed agreement) is sent to them summarising the process. The letter gives the client a seven day cooling-off period and the client is encouraged to contact the office should they require further explanation of the process. We have worked hard to ensure that the “engagement letter” is written in understandable (non-technical) language to help promote full understanding.
How does your firm deal with assets/equity (especially home and car)?
We clarify the asset position in writing before the trust deed is legally effective.
We instruct a valuation of the property (if the client is a homeowner or joint homeowner) before the trust deed is legally effective. We also ensure that a redemption statement for any mortgage or other loan secured on the home has been obtained before the trust deed is legally effective.
If the property is in negative equity then we would give up our interest in the property.
If there is equity within the property there are a number of options available to the client. They may be able to choose to extend the duration of their trust deed. Alternatively they may be able to provide a “third party” that can contribute the necessary funds in order that the Trustee can relinquish his interest in the property.
If the value (or equity) of a car is less than £3,000 the vehicle is exempt from the trust deed. If a vehicle’s value (or equity) is over £3,000, the client has a couple of options. They may choose to extend the duration of their trust deed, or they may be able to provide a “third party” who can pay over the necessary funds in order that the Trustee can relinquish his interest in the vehicle.
If a car is subject to a Hire Purchase (HP) agreement, and the repayments will continue beyond the end of the trust deed, the car is not considered to be an asset. Car HP payments can continue in the trust deed provided they are reasonable.
In your experience will entering a protected trust deed affect someone professionally?
From our experience, over an extended period of time, we have found that in most cases people find that there is no problem at all.
For example, we have worked with numerous clients who are members of the Armed Forces. They are subject to vigorous regulations, but in our experience the Armed Forces as employers typically welcome the fact that the problem is being addressed and resolved.
We do advocate that wherever possible a client speaks with their welfare department, HR team, a union representative, or a relevant professional or regulatory body (if one exists) prior to proceeding with any particular course of action.
Do you charge upfront fees? How are your fees worked out and paid for?
We do not charge upfront fees for trust deeds. Initial and follow-up consultations are free of charge.
Once a case has assessed, a projected fee is proposed to creditors as part of the initial documentation. This information is also available to our clients.
In terms of the Trust Deed legislation, our fees comprise of a fixed fee together with a percentage fee of assets realised. Creditors have the right to appeal our fees should they wish. The fees are settled from funds ingathered into the trust deed account.
How often do you recommend solutions other than trust deeds?
Our aim isn’t to recommend any particular option. As a firm we are able to set up and administer Trust Deeds, Sequestrations and Debt Payment Programs under the Debt Arrangement Scheme. As a result we can ensure that we discuss all options available to our client to enable them to make an informed decision on what is right for them.
What percentage of the trust deeds you set-up become “protected”?
We do not put forward trust deed proposals unless we are extremely confident that they will proceed to “protection”. If necessary, negotiation will take place with creditors. For example, in 2011 98.9% of our trust deeds became protected trust deeds. The tiny minority which did not then chose to follow another insolvency solution with us.
What happens after a trust deed becomes protected? What contact will people have with your firm?
Initially we contact the client by phone to confirm that their trust deed has been “protected”. A confirmatory letter including the Protection Certificate is also sent to the client thereafter.
Following this an annual review will be conducted by means of a “Current Status Report”. This is a document which our client completes and returns to us.
Clients can also contact their designated point-of-contact here (or their caseworker) who will assist in alleviating any concerns that arise, or deal with any issues (such as creditors who are continuing to chase payments for example).
We also conduct an “Exit Review” to assist in delivering high quality customer service.
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