Who’s the best? Who should I avoid?!
If you’re thinking of going into an IVA arrangement, then you’ll need a registered insolvency practitioner to take care of things on your behalf.
Whilst many practitioners work independently, many work as part of a larger company – for example, debt management companies or bespoke accountancy firms.
Choosing the right practitioner for YOU is a massive decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In this article we take a look at how to choose the best IVA provider and provide some tips on what you should (and shouldn’t) look for.
What does an Insolvency Practitioner do?
Once you’ve researched the pro’s and con’s of going into an IVA arrangement then you’ll need to think about putting it all into practice.
Only a registered insolvency practitioner is authorised to manage an IVA and they have numerous roles to fulfil during the process which include:
- Arranging an initial consultation to discuss your financial concerns and how best to deal with them through an IVA. During this meeting it’s likely that you’ll be asked for certain information – such as a breakdown of your debts, the debt amounts and what payments (if any) have already been made towards them.
- If you’re happy to proceed with that particular advisor then he or she will then adopt the role of your Nominee. This means that they have certain legal obligations to fulfill; not least of all making initial contact with all your creditors to put them on notice as to your intention to enter into an IVA.
- Once the IVA has been approved by all concerned, then your advisor will become the main supervisor of the arrangement. This means that he or she will have to ensure that payments are properly processed to all creditors on a monthly basis and that regular reviews are conducted on your behalf (usually on an annual basis).
How do I choose the best IVA provider?
There are numerous IVA providers on the open market and many of these will have slightly different offerings.
When you first start looking for an advisor there are certain questions and considerations you should bear in mind:
- Does the advisor charge for an initial consultation? Most companies will offer a free consultation so that you can meet with them, ask any questions you might have and then decide whether they’re the right fit for you. If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with them then always err on the side of caution – there are plenty of other people and companies you can turn to.
- You should never be asked for any upfront fees to enter into an IVA. These will be added into the arrangement itself so, if the question of costs sneaks into your first consultation, be very careful. You should never pay anything upfront; or agree to pay anything at the end of the arrangement either.
- Always ensure that your advisor doesn’t simply manipulate your expenditure in order to meet a given criteria for the IVA. Remember, your IVA could last for a period of 4 years so it’s important to get it right from the very beginning.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your advisor for any client testimonies – or why not do an internet search to see what other clients have said about their service? Most search engines will offer reviews of local companies so don’t be afraid to do a bit of homework and see what their customer experience looked like, from start to finish.
- It probably goes without saying that, if you’re already in debt, then you certainly won’t want to be incurring any more. For that reason, always ask what the monthly payments are going to look like and what their charges will be. Unfortunately, some IVA companies pitch their minimum repayments at levels which are simply unaffordable and this certainly isn’t something you should be committing to. Remember, once you’ve entered into an IVA the monthly repayment is set in stone and you won’t be able to change it. Consequently, if you can’t afford the repayment now then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep them up in the future.
- Always try and source a company or advisor who’s already well established. This is an extremely important undertaking so you need to be assured that your chosen professional knows exactly what they’re doing. Does your chosen company do anything which goes the ‘extra mile’ for their customers? What level of service can you expect from them? How easily will you be able to contact your chosen advisor should you need to, once the arrangement is in place? Most reputable companies will have a customer care charter so if it’s not obvious, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Make sure that you’re absolutely clear on the services that your advisor will be able to provide you both before, during and after the IVA has been put into place. Remember, your advisor will still have certain duties even after the IVA has ended – for example, by issuing a Certificate of Completion and notifying your creditors. A copy of the completion certificate also needs to be sent off to the Insolvency Register so that it can be updated and your details can be removed at the soonest opportunity. What’s more, it’s also important to inform credit reference agencies that the arrangement has been satisfied so that you can start to rebuild your credit history and get yourself on a better financial footing going forward.
- Finally, during your search of insolvency practitioners it’s likely that you’ll come across various charities offering free support and advice. Whilst these should certainly be given due consideration, never be tempted to use them ahead of a registered and reputable practitioner since their knowledge might not be as strong, nor their longevity as valuable.
IVA Companies to Avoid
From time to time certain insolvency practitioners hit the headlines with bad press or reports so it’s important to keep your eye on the latest releases and if you’re not sure about anything, to seek professional impartial advice. However, by taking the above factors into account there’s certainly no reason to suggest that you won’t be able to find the right practitioner for you – and all at a cost you can afford.