Debt gurus vow to help you navigate way out of the red
A team of specialists who have already helped clients write off debts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have vowed to help people in Northern Ireland to work their way out of their financial difficulties.
Debt mediation firm GDP Partnership, based in in Belfast, has launched Equity Experts, a team of five people who will attempt to educate debtors out of trouble.
The company offers bank mediation, restructuring, asset management, corporate finance and real estate advice.
In one case, a debtor who owed a Northern Ireland bank £292,000 was able to sell an investment property worth £120,000 and pay back £3,650 to the bank, which resulted in £168,000 of owed money being written off.
In another, a UK bank was owed £71,915 as a result of a debt shortfall, but GDP mediated a settlement in which the bank accepted a £4,203 repayment.
Conor Devine, principal at the company, said that Northern Ireland had the highest rate of negative equity in the UK.
"There is a lack of understanding around debt and the ways of dealing with debt," he added.
"Even some otherwise sophisticated businesspeople still have a shortage of knowledge in terms of how to deal with money management and banks, and we want to educate people on their best way forward.
"Banks typically use a one-size-fits-all approach to recoup their money, but we take a more tailored angle and look at the individual and mediate between them and the bank.
"The vast majority of people are coming to us in despair – they are in a really bad place, and the stress that being in debt is causing is immense.
"For us, bankruptcy is not the only option. We help clients work out other types of payment plans. When there are less people going bankrupt, the overall economy will benefit."
Mr Devine said that even after six years of the economic crisis, there was still more pain to come.
"There are thousands more properties which will end up in negative equity and there will be many more people who will need help," he added.
"It's now very clear that the Bank of England is close to increasing interest rates, and some people will be pushed over the edge through increased monthly outgoings. Individual and corporate debt must be dealt with in a more understanding way."