PayPoint survey reveals renters’ long term post-COVID 19 financial concerns

As the UK eases out of lockdown and approaches the end of the furlough scheme, a survey of social and private renters* by the payment provider, PayPoint, has revealed significant concerns regarding future ability to pay on time. 25% of respondents are already at least a month behind on their rent, and a third are concerned about the impact COVID-19 has had on their long-term financial situation.

Encouragingly, 40% of social renters are confident that their long-term financial situation will improve as the UK recovers post-COVID-19, and most of those who have fallen behind have found their landlord sympathetic and flexible.

Overall, private renters are more concerned about the long-term financial impact of COVID-19, and less than a quarter (24%) are confident in their recovery post-COVID-19. Of the private renters who are behind on payments, 22% are concerned about their ability to catch up within the next 3-6 months, whereas just 10% of social renters shared these concerns.

Danny Vant, Client Services Director for PayPoint commented: “The global crisis has impacted virtually every area of our lives and the longer-term financial impact is becoming clearer. Our survey reveals real concerns over future financial stability and ability to pay rent. It is vital that both private and social landlords are sympathetic to the challenges their tenants are facing in these uncertain times. Offering payment flexibility will be important for tenants going forward, to help them navigate changes to their lifestyle and financial situation. This will ensure landlords can retain good tenants and continue to recover rent fees effectively.”

One in five of the renters surveyed said they would welcome the introduction of a digital payment platform that would remind them when payments are due and enable them to make flexible payments to help them manage their financial situation.

PayPoint’s new collection tool, PayByLink, available through its digital payment solution, MultiPay, helps landlords to engage with tenants sensitively and responsibly via SMS and email, to remind them of payment dates, make arrears collections and offer flexible payment terms. This will be particularly beneficial as the UK navigates it way through the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vant continued: “Late payment collection through PayByLink increases efficiency and reduces the cost of collections and write-offs. Tenants do not want to miss rent payments, but many facing significant challenges in the current climate have fallen into rent arrears. As our survey identified, many are very concerned about their ability to pay rent in the coming months, and how quickly they will recover, financially from the impact of COVID-19.

“Importantly, PayByLink provides tenants with payment flexibility, putting them in control whilst improving cashflow for landlords. The user-friendly payment options remove friction from the payment process whilst retaining security and peace of mind, increasing customer engagement and ultimately improving collections success. Working together with tenants, considering their financial challenges and providing payment flexibility, landlords can help tenants through this stressful time and may find they benefit from longer tenancies and more efficient payments in future.”

June corporate and personal insolvency statistics, R3 response

Christina Fitzgerald, Vice President of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, responds to today’s publication of the corporate and personal insolvency statistics for June: “The June statistics show both corporate and personal insolvencies fell compared to May’s figures. The decrease in the number of corporate insolvencies was driven by a sharp reduction in the number of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations and a drop in administrations. While personal insolvency numbers have also remained low, with bankruptcies showing a particular fall, the overall picture is much cloudier due to a number of issues that have affected the processing of Individual Voluntary Arrangement registrations.

“Today’s statistics still do not show the effects of the pandemic on personal and corporate insolvency levels. In part this is because of the time it takes to set up and enter corporate and personal insolvency processes, but also because of the Government’s support measures, which will have provided a valuable safety net for many people and businesses.

“However, the economic contraction in April and May shows that consumer spending had halted, and consumer confidence was unsurprisingly low during both months, with no real improvement in June. People are naturally worried about their finances and the health of the economy over the next year, and with many thousands of job losses recently announced and with more predicted to come, it is easy to see why.

“Our members are telling us that requests for formal insolvency support have not been significantly higher than before the pandemic. However, there has been a significant increase in existing and new clients asking for support with managing a reduction in demand for their products and services, and guidance around how they can manage working capital shortages in cashflow forecasts as the economy gets moving again.

“The situation is still tough for many people with little sign of economic improvement on the horizon. That’s why anyone who starts to see problems with their business or personal finances should seek advice from a qualified source as early as they possibly can.”

Onguard expands UK sales team with Andy Bass

Onguard, the FinTech company dedicated to redefining the order-to-cash payment process, has announced the appointment of Andy Bass as New Business Development Manager as the company continues its UK expansion and exploits new opportunities in the region.

With more than 20 years’ experience within the IT industry in the UK and Europe, Andy has held a number of senior roles including as the UK CEO of a major multinational, where he was charged with improving the company’s cash conversion cycle through direction and focus on reducing the monthly DSO position of the company.

More recently he has held sales positions at a variety of SaaS-based businesses operating in the accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) automation and incentive payments space. Andy’s appointment will strengthen Onguard’s position as it expands its presence in the UK following a period of continued growth in the region and increased demand for automated order-to-cash solutions from UK businesses.

Martin de Heus, VP of Sales, Onguard, commented: “The UK is already an important market for Onguard, and Andy brings added passion and experience to a growing UK team, as well as unique customer and sales experience. There has recently been a noticeable increase in interest from UK companies of all sizes seeking to fully automate their order-to-cash process from cash collection and allocation, to billings and risk management, and we are well placed to fulfill those needs.”

Andy Bass, New Business Development Manager, Onguard, added: “Onguard is the clear leader in the order-to-cash space and has the ambition to invest in its business and people to take its customers to the next level of AR automation, which makes it an exciting company to join. The recent acquisition by business transformation powerhouse Visma is a clear vote of confidence in Onguard’s business model and I look forward to sharing in the success of the business.”

Government must act to prevent council tax loading £158m in bailiff and court fees on to people who can’t pay following the pandemic

Bailiff visits – often to enforce debt owed to local authorities in the form of unpaid council tax – will start up again from 23 August, following a temporary ban during the coronavirus emergency. StepChange Debt Charity is deeply worried about the impact and calls for urgent action.

On a conservative estimate, people who owe more than £500 million of arrears accumulated on council tax since the pandemic, and who cannot afford to pay, could be hit by up to an additional £158 million of costs [see calculation in note 1 to editors] purely as a result of the bailiff and court fees that could be added.

This cannot be allowed to play out. Before Parliament rises for recess, the charity urgently calls on the Government to put in place additional protections in light of the ongoing financial crisis. While central Government has allocated some additional funding to local authorities and some additional flexibility about their own repayment of debt, this does not address the particular pressure that local authorities will face to resume bailiff enforcement that just makes things worse for households already struggling.

StepChange is calling for the Government to introduce a statutory pre-action protocol for council tax that would require councils to take certain steps before seeking a liability order for bailiff enforcement action, as well as amending the council tax regulations to enable local authorities to show greater flexibility.

The Local Government Association said in mid-May that 2020/2021 council tax receipts were already £506 million down. Research from www.stepchange.org in May suggested around 820,000 people had fallen into council tax arrears during the pandemic. The same research showed that over 4 million people had accumulated around £6 billion of debt and arrears attributable to financial shock caused by the pandemic.

It is very clear that the financial consequences of the public health crisis on households are not going to be resolved any time soon. Many people will lose their jobs, some of whom will not currently be aware that this will happen; many people who retain their jobs will nevertheless see their income reduced; many of those not currently in work will find it even harder to get into work and will be forced to rely on the benefits system for an extended period.

While forbearance is a regulatory requirement across the mortgage and consumer credit landscape, this is not the case when it comes to the enforcement of Government debt. Indeed, local authorities themselves can be penalised financially when they try to offer more compassionate, longer term and affordable repayment plans to those who owe them money.

It is perhaps then no surprise that local authorities are the highest users of bailiffs – referring 2.6 million debts to bailiffs, of which 1.4 million were for unpaid council tax, in the 2018/19 year. Yet bailiff firms, who are often dealing with some of the most vulnerable households, are subject to no universal statutory regulation. Too often this results in poor practice and excessive fees which exacerbate the financial difficulties already being faced by affected households.

The bailiff sector, through its trade body CIVEA, says that bailiffs will not enter people’s homes in the short term when visits resume (which, while welcome, begs the question why visits, and the fee of hundreds of pounds that each attracts, are appropriate at all). However, as numerous submissions to the Ministry of Justice’s call for evidence on bailiff behaviour testify [see note 2 to editors], to consumer organisations and the public it is unfathomable why a sector that operates in such a sensitive part of the market is not subject to the same kind of robust, statutory regulation that applies elsewhere in the debt recovery landscape.

In the absence of a reliable and credible regulatory framework, it is even more vital that the Government pays careful attention to the protections needed in relation to the collection of debts owed to local authorities in the post-pandemic landscape.

StepChange CEO Phil Andrew comments: “The issue of how commonly local authorities use bailiffs to enforce unpaid debts, piling shocking levels of fees and fear onto already struggling households, seems to go unnoticed as the Cinderella of the debt recovery landscape. That is wrong at any time, but in the wake of coronavirus it needs urgent attention.

“Local authorities need both help and a prescribed process from central Government to ensure that their first and foremost aim in current circumstances is to help their residents get back on their feet financially through affordable repayment plans, rather than to subject people who can’t afford to pay their council tax to even higher costs and stress.

“We call on the Government to amend the council tax regulations, and to introduce a statutory council tax pre-action protocol, to ensure people facing debt do not see their problems exacerbated by archaic elements of council tax regulation and practice that are lagging behind the Government’s wider policy objectives.”

NPL market restarts in Italy and Greece after COVID-19 freeze – Debtwire European NPLs 1H20 Report

With EUR 30.4bn of completed deals across Europe, the non-performing loans (NPL) market has been more active than expected at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the new European NPLs – 1H20 report, published by Debtwire ABS.

By this point in 2019, EUR 41.8bn of deals had closed, down from the record EUR 105.2bn in 2018, EUR 40.6bn in 2017, EUR 28.8bn in 2016 and EUR 31bn in 2015, according to Debtwire’s NPL Database.

However, this year’s activity has been extremely concentrated, with EUR 27.3bn deals, or 89.8%, shared between Italy (EUR 18.2bn) and Greece (EUR 9.1bn).

Most of these deals were connected to state-aid programs such as acquisitions from bad banks and securitisations with government guarantees, together accounting for EUR 20.3bn or 66.8% of the total. The largest deal so far in 2020 was the sale from Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena to the Italian bad bank AMCO, which was 100% owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance.

In June, AMCO received the approval for the EUR 8.1bn acquisitions of UTPs and NPLs from BMPS, while also getting the green light to buy EUR 2bn from Banco Popolare di Bari.

The second-largest deal was the first Greek NPL securitisation within the Hercules Asset Protection Scheme (HAPS), approved last December. Eurobank Ergasias closed the first securitisation, the EUR 7.5bn Project Cairo, of which EUR 2.4bn senior notes are due to receive government guarantees while part of the EUR 1.5bn mezzanine and EUR 3.6bn junior notes were sold to doValue.

As lockdowns started to lift, deal flow resumed, especially in May and June. Currently on the market there are EUR 66.2bn of transactions. Almost half of this volume is expected from Greece, mostly connected with the Hercules, or HAPS, scheme, with EUR 29.4bn of deals on the market.

Italy might see a EUR 19.7bn mix of securitisations within the GACS scheme, some large unsecured portfolio sales and leasing portfolios.

In Spain and Ireland, banks have restarted to consider portfolio sales that had been frozen due to COVID-19.

European banks have been preparing for a new wave of bad loans due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the first quarter of 2020, Europe’s largest banks set aside more than EUR 21.5bn of provisions to cover losses from bad loans, up 207% from EUR 7bn in the same period in 2019.

“The real impact of the crisis hasn’t been seen yet. Governments and regulators have put in place schemes to help households, businesses and banks, mostly freezing payment of loans. Once the schemes end, the real impact of the crisis will be clear,” said Alessia Pirolo, Head of NPL Coverage, Debtwire.

Suspending wrongful trading gives company directors breathing space, but they aren’t immune from liability

The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions introduced in March 2020 and initially set to run until 30 June 2020 will continue with the implementation of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act on 26 June 2020.

However, according to Duff & Phelps, the global advisor that protects, restores and maximises value for clients, although the threat of personal liability has been significantly reduced, company directors must remain attentive to other considerations relating to the continued trading of their businesses as they are still bound by directors duties as set out in company law.

The new Act contains a number of permanent and temporary measures that address business challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key measures is the continuation of the temporary suspension of wrongful trading.

In setting the scene to the wrongful trading landscape, Andrew Knowles, Senior Director, Restructuring Advisory, Duff & Phelps, stated: “The Insolvency Act 1986 included several provisions that protected creditors from the actions of rogue directors. In particular, section 214 on wrongful trading required company directors to assess the likely prospects of avoiding insolvency. Continuing to trade when there was no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvency can have dire consequences including personal liability for debts and trading losses. Furthermore, disgruntled creditors can commence direct action against the director and protection of limited liability would not apply. This is commonly known as ‘piercing the corporate veil’, thus ensuring that in distressed situations directors were acting in the interests of creditors, rather than shareholders.

“The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act does not entirely turn off these wrongful trading provisions, but it does provide directors with some relief. For directors who may have previously hurried to start insolvency proceedings and avoid the possibility of any personal liability, the temporary suspension will help postpone many from triggering that process and assist them to emerge intact on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The majority of businesses are now facing unprecedented financial challenges, with the UK economy enduring its worst quarterly fall since 1979. In response, the government has made sweeping changes to insolvency law, but has stopped short of providing company directors with complete immunity from liability and their duties.

Knowles continued: “In my experience the vast majority of directors understand the difference between steering the business through a challenging period and crossing the line into wrongful trading for which there remain severe penalties, including personal liability and disqualification. On a cautionary note, all other sources of risk and liability under the Insolvency Act 1986 are unaffected. For example, directors are still bound by their fiduciary duties, and also by the fraudulent trading provisions of section 213, which means that they will still face sanctions and penalties if they knowingly attempted to defraud the company or creditors.”

“In addition, directors will still have duties under the Companies Act 2006 and must continue to act and be mindful of interests of creditors if the likelihood of insolvency increases. Overall, this means that the temporary suspension of wrongful trading doesn’t change the attention that directors should be giving when evaluating the financial position of their company. Directors’ actions will remain subject to scrutiny, making it critical that they consider very cautiously whether to continue trading if there is not a realistic chance of their company avoiding insolvency,” Knowles added.

Although the easing of lockdown measures is picking up pace and businesses are beginning to open their doors, numerous challenges lay ahead, particularly with the expected reduction in consumer demand and confidence. Many company directors will likely face challenging decisions over whether to continue trading or instigate an insolvency process in the coming months.

“If directors are worried that their business is in or expecting financial difficulty, they must continue to consider the needs of all key stakeholders and creditors in any decision and maintain ‘good housekeeping’ in the form of board meetings and keeping records of actions taken with an assessment of the reasons for certain decisions. Where possible, they should also seek appropriate professional advice. Duff & Phelps has extensive experience in assisting in the negotiations with key creditors, as well as providing further support in the decisions to continue to trade with the support of creditors. We would urge directors facing increased financial volatility in the face of COVID-19 to contact us,” Knowles concluded.

Monese partners with Paysafe to bridge the gap between cash and digital banking

Monese, the banking service that gives people the financial freedom to thrive anywhere, has partnered with leading specialised payments platform, Paysafe, to provide its customers with access to cash services. Paysafe’s eCash solution, Paysafecash, can now be used by millions of consumers to top up Monese accounts directly with cash. Monese already has over 40,000 cash top up locations in the UK – the new partnership boosts the total number to more than 110,000 across Europe. In total Paysafecash is available at around 170,000 payment points in 28 countries (including USA and Canada).

Monese customers can now conveniently add cash into their account by selecting Paysafecash as the top up method. This generates a barcode which they can take to a nearby Paysafecash payment point to make the payment in cash.

The international roll-out of the partnership between Paysafe and Monese starts in France, with plans to extend the availability of the service into an additional 11 countries over the next few months. These additional countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

Norris Koppel, Founder and CEO of Monese, commented, “Since the very beginning, our vision for Monese has been to create an inclusive and instant, on-demand way for people to manage their personal finances – without the restrictions that are imposed by so many traditional financial institutions. By partnering with Paysafe and including Paysafecash as a top up method, we are further expanding our ability to offer a truly accessible service and more freedom of choice to those customers who continue to rely on cash.”

Udo Müller, CEO of paysafecard, the team behind Paysafecash, added: “The partnership between Monese and Paysafe reflects a collaboration between one of the most innovative banking services with a leading provider of alternative payment methods. Our eCash network is extremely well established and continually expanding, putting us in a unique position to be able to bridge the gap between digital banking and cash, which remains a cornerstone of the payment landscape in many countries.”

Viva Wallet announces partnership with ClearBank for the UK market

Viva Wallet, the European cloud-based digital payments provider, has selected ClearBank as its banking provider in the UK.

Viva Wallet is the first European entirely cloud-based payment services provider. Created to change the way businesses pay and get paid, Viva Wallet offers businesses of all sizes acceptance of 24 payment methods through innovative Smart Android card terminals and free eCommerce plugins for the most popular online store platforms. Alongside the ability to provide next day settlement, Viva Wallet offers 0% card acceptance fees for customers who utilise both issuing and acquiring services.

ClearBank is a cloud native, full UK clearing bank with a technology platform designed to offer near real-time access to a full range of Banking-as-a-Service solutions. These API-enabled services and products can be tailored to meet the specific need of fintech’s, enabling businesses such as Viva Wallet to enhance and evolve their offering.

Charles McManus, CEO of ClearBank said: “We’re excited to start work with the team at Viva Wallet. As cloud-based financial services providers that both fully leverage the power of Microsoft Azure, Viva Wallet and ClearBank have many synergies. We look forward to supporting Viva Wallet for the next phase of its growth and ultimately, enabling businesses to access better ways of making and receiving payments.”

Haris Karonis, CEO of Viva Wallet said: “My team and I are pleased to announce our selection of ClearBank as our banking partner in the UK. As we accelerate as a business, we needed to ensure we had the right provider that could support our growth. As a likeminded business, we have found a long-term provider in ClearBank and I look forward to a close working relationship.”

Omni-Channel Collections is here! Are you ready?

The majority of collection organizations, from a lender to an outsourced collections firm, are pursuing digital channel interaction and engagement capabilities to expand their consumer communication options. Driving this move is the decline in the effectiveness of traditional communication channels (letters and telephony), and the rising success of digital channel communications (SMS/text, email, chat and consumer self-serve collection portal). This move is also a result of collection organizations anticipation of the CFPB’s proposed new ruling expected in 2020 that will likely have a major impact on how collection operations will contact and communicate with consumers going forward.

Organizations taking steps to have digital channel capabilities should actually be taking steps towards having a collection system that is Omni-Channel collection enabled. Having a collection system that is Omni-Channel collection enabled represents greater operational compliance, and collections performance over traditional collection systems.

It is important to note that having an Omni-Channel collection enabled system is not simply a matter of “bolting-on” digital channel communication capabilities to a collection software platform and away you go. It entails a collection system that is seamlessly integrated with both traditional and new communication channel software and/or service providers. It is also a system that centrally sets, manages, and controls all initial and ongoing collection and communication strategies within and across all contact channel(s). An Omni-Channel collection enabled system will include the ability to instantly process new and/or updated information that can automatically trigger the appropriate “next communication action(s)” and/or systematically move the account to the appropriate subsequent step in the workflow. The end result is a more consistent, and appropriate engagement across all touchpoints and devices, by both the consumer and the collection organization.

Collection systems that have Omni-Channel enablement are designed and developed to easily capture, store, compile, and utilize a broader and more detailed set of data across all communication channels, in real time. This is critical for engaging in holistic consumer communication management, optimizing collection communication channel strategies, creating more effective consumer messages, and being able to properly adhere to compliance requirements. This includes the ability to capture and use the consent data in real time for consumer communication management—as part of an agent’s desktop display, used in a collection communication strategy, made a part of a contact workflow rule, and/or serves as the basis for a message event trigger. Communication consent data may include (but not limited to) the number of contacts attempted and completed for each consumer, by communication channel, and for all channels, and within a given period. This sort of granular level of data is just not easily captured and/or cannot be appropriately leveraged in most existing collection systems. The reason being, they were simply never truly designed and developed to support this sort of capability.

There are several key capabilities that a collections system should have in order to properly support Omni-Channel collections. Those capabilities include:

·        Seamless integration with all contact/communication channels – telephony/dialer, inhouse & outsourced letter generation, agent desktop, email, SMS/text, chat, and ringless voicemail.

·        Real-time processing – within the collection system, with other integrated applications, and with external service providers where key contact/communication information is being exchanged.

·        Embedded digital channel communications capabilities (within the collection system database), at the collector desktop, within the strategy/rules engine, messaging templates, and within the tracking & reporting functions.

·        Robust centralized strategy engine (may also utilize a machine learning/AI platform).

·        Integrated consumer self-serve collection portal.

·        Omni-channel collections related data capture, compilation, management, utilization – for all communication channels, associated strategies, and related steps/actions and contact. This includes the systematic capture of details on every contact/communication engaged for each account (contact type, channel used, # of contacts within/across channels, and associated results within a defined given period).

·        Detailed tracking, reporting, and analytic capabilities specific to omni-channel communications – comprehensive reporting and analysis is essential to gain more insights, identify emerging trends, and refine strategies.

Not having a collection system with these omni-channel related capabilities or not having them enabled in a highly seamless and embedded manner is likely to put a collection operation at risk for their performance and compliance. Not to mention, at a distinct disadvantage with organizations that have these capabilities within their collection system. For example, not having “real-time” processing within your collection system for omni-channel collections, means a payment made just now by a consumer via SMS/text will not trigger an immediate automated process to instantly inform the collector of the payment. Nor will it automatically pull the account from the collector’s que, remove the account from a dialer campaign, and/or stop the demand letter from being sent. The same can be said in the event a consumer establishes an agreed upon payment plan via a self-serve collection portal.

Without having seamless integration between the portal and the collection system—along with real time processing and a central rules engine to immediately react to the current event and drive the appropriate “next actions”—a series of missteps will likely ensue, such as:

  • A collector contacting the consumer because they were not immediately made aware of the payment that was just made by the consumer.
  • A demand letter was sent out later that day even though the consumer established a payment plan via the self-serve collections payment portal earlier the same day.

These missteps result in the collection organization wasting time, resources and expenses engaging in collection actions that were not needed and/or strategies no longer appropriate. Not to mention the customer’s ill-will and complaints to management from the collector needlessly contacting the consumer, and/or the confused consumer calling customer service about a collection notice they received on an account they already paid via the self-serve portal.

Conclusion

The collection industry is going through a major change due to growing regulatory compliance requirements, the heightened desire by collection organizations for broader collection communications capabilities, and the increased pressure to improve their overall collections performance. Many firms think the answer lies with leveraging digital channel communications capabilities. However, the more complete and better answer lies with moving to a new and modern collection software system. One that offers a broader and richer set of capabilities, including digital channel communication capabilities and more importantly Omni-Channel collection enablement. With that in mind…

maybe you should be asking yourself “is your existing collection system enabling you or disabling you when it comes to driving more effective and compliant communications, and better overall collections?

 

Robert Fite has compiled over 25 years of experience in the credit & collections industry with extensive expertise in decision management software tools, credit data, risk scoring, and collection technology. He has held leadership positions with Experian, Fico, and LexisNexis, and has worked with hundreds of lenders of all types, sizes and credit products, throughout North America.

Bristow & Sutor highlights female enforcement agent success

Bristow & Sutor specialise in local authority debt recovery and has collected council tax, non-domestic rates and penalty charge notices for over 42 years. The company directly employs circa 150 EAs located in strategic areas around the country, and whilst the industry remains predominantly male, some of the company’s top performers are female. As an equal opportunities employer, Bristow & Sutor are keen to see more women realise the opportunities available to them and consider careers in the collections and enforcement industry.

One example to draw inspiration from is Jessica Hewitt, who currently works as an EA for Bristow & Sutor. Jessica previously worked in security and immigration for the Home Office, so saw a role within collections and enforcement as a chance to transfer the skills she had already learned. She generally works alone, visiting debtors to discuss their situation and ultimately recover outstanding debts.

“As soon as I picked up what it was actually like to be an EA, I loved it” said Jessica. “I had lots to learn about the rules of enforcement, legislation and negotiation, but ongoing training at Bristow & Sutor has helped and I have enjoyed it every step of the way. Some things you learn on the job, like identifying truly vulnerable debtors, but this has helped me grow and expand my own knowledge in an important area. I love being my own boss, having flexibility with breaks and the buzz of resolving an outstanding debt. I still feel proud every time a case I work on is paid off in full”.

Bristow & Sutor operates a policy of ‘case rotation’ meaning that an EA only has ‘ownership’ of the case for one week during which time they will undertake visits and update the case file using their PDA. This means that when a further visit is undertaken, it will be carried out by a different EA who will have access to the case notes. Female EAs are often engaged with differently to their male counterparts and Jessica believes adding more women to this rotation can open the door for more success.

“In some instances, debtors might feel less intimidated by a female knocking on their door. This is not always the case, but I have definitely succeeded in some scenarios where my male colleagues could not. This was often because the debtor was simply more comfortable discussing their situation with me. I think diversity in the workforce is very important as it means debtors can expect access to somebody they feel comfortable speaking with, whoever that may be.”

All of Bristow & Sutor’s EAs are fully employed to ensure the company retains full responsibility and accountability. To provide full transparency on all visits, agents wear body cameras and travel in vehicles that are trackable. This is also essential for the enforcement agents own welfare, security and safety. The company also invests heavily in training, spending over £800k annually on courses and continual professional development. For any women considering a career in the industry Jessica has one piece of advice.

“Go for it. Working for Bristow & Sutor has been interesting, exciting and unlike anything I have done before. The industry will benefit from more women so you will be welcomed both by colleagues and clients alike. Training is available, you get to take control of your own career and the earning potential is great!”

No EAs are currently permitted to attend properties due to social distancing restrictions, but Bristow & Sutor has continued CPD training for staff as well as training on PPE. Once visits are permitted again, all Bristow & Sutor EAs will possess hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, disinfectant sprays, gloves, bin bags and self-stick envelopes. The company remains fully committed to the safety of staff, customers and the general public.