Trustee Talk #101 – Barton & Desmond Discussing Debt Issues Affecting Albertans

September 25th, 2015 by A Licensed Insolvency Trustee

Barton Goth is a contributor to Bankruptcy Canada

Barton & Desmond Discussing Debt & Bankruptcy Issues Affecting Albertans

Thank you for your time this afternoon gentleman, now let’s get started with the vital information. Your name, business name and your website address.

All right, my name is Barton Goth. The name of the firm is Goth and Company. We operate out of Edmonton. Our website address is that is all spelled out, small regional insolvency practice here in Edmonton and Northern Alberta.

And right next to me is Desmond, Desmond why don’t you introduce yourself.

Hi, Desmond West-Chow. All other information is the same as all Bart just said. I don’t think I have anything to add there. We are both licence trustees and actively involved in the market place.

How long have you been Bankruptcy Trustees?

Oh! that’s a tough question, I have been a bankruptcy trustee for about ten years and Desmond, he is relatively newly implemented. I have become a trustee just this year but I’ve been in the business everyday for four years and my father is trustee in bankruptcy, so I’ve been around it for a lot longer than that.

Yeah, we are both a little bit unique because we are both second generation trustees, so my father Jim Goth started Goth and Company back in 1993 and I’ve worked there for quite a number of years since we began, although I was quite young when we started, I was doing most of the reception work and so we are both quite familiar with what happens on a regular basis around this parts.

What Areas Do You Service?

Contact Licensed Insolvency Trustee in AlbertaTalk to me about the specific areas that you service, the general geographic area and any important cities that you work in as well. Well really we service all of Northern Alberta, some of the north, well all of the north west territories as well as some regions in the Saskatchewan. Important cities to us are obviously Edmonton where our main office is and where most of our work is done, however, we do have some offices also in Sherwood Park and St. Albert that we can arrange to meet individuals. Otherwise mainly all of northern Alberta.

We will semi-regularly travel up to Grand Prairie and Fort McMurray to Lloydminster. So, it really just depends on people’s needs and demands, so we like to be where we need to be when people need help. For this next question, maybe you can both each like to have an opportunity to answer, tell me about what you think the top three causes of debt problems are, that get clients to your door?

What Is Your Insight Into The 3 Top Debt Causes?

Sure, the three most common causes of debt that we see and the thing that puts people to the point where they really know they need to seek professional advice. I’d say the most common is probably marital breakdown and divorce. The second one is probably health related issue, so people get sick for longer than may anticipate or their treatments take longer or they are not able to continue working as they would have anticipated when they were first diagnosed with an ailment.

Let’s say the third one and the one that’s also is very closely related to the other two are people just simply kicking on more debt than they can really handle. So big vehicle payments, big line of credit payment, big mortgage payment and quite mostly, quite related to all three of these especially being in Alberta is the drop in income because our economy is very much related to the price of oil and the price of commodity across the country.

Yes, I would agree exactly with Desmond, one of the biggest challenges I find, you can’t over emphasize how quick and easy to get money from bank from other lending institutions, everywhere you turn around, people are pushed in credit faster than people can spend it for the most part, and unfortunately, that thing is good when interest grades are low but I have a tendency to catch up with people fairly quickly when the economy makes the shift.

Do you find that there are more common types of debt, so not related to a specific life event per say, but rather the actual type of debts? So for example credit card, student loan etc.

We see a lot of credit card debt, but quite frankly I can’t say that we see any more credit card debt than we see a line of credit, most people that come through the door have a combination of all off the above. Unique situations for maybe student loans are higher than they should be, those happen in very specific demographic.

But overall, it’s just generally unsecured debt that people have used to amass a lifestyle that quite frankly they probably can’t afford.

Who Does The Bankruptcy Trustee Work For?

Okay, so who does the bankruptcy trustee work for? Is it for the individual, is it for the company that’s looking to collect their funds, how does that work?

Desmond West-Chow is a contributor for Bankruptcy CanadaWell, we’re kind of in a unique position and that we’re a neutral party, so we don’t specifically work for debtors but we also don’t work for their creditors. Our job is really to make sure that all of the rules and regulations and the process of bankruptcy and consumer proposals are adhered to comply by all parties involved and more specifically we’re considered court appointed officers, that’s our role, so it’s not an easy answer if we work for party A or party B, really we just work at the process of administering bankruptcy proposals or other forms of debt resolution.

How I often look at it, is how often I explain it as a referee at a hockey game. We’ve got one set of rules in two different parties and our job is to try and make sure that both parties are following those rules as best as possible. So we have a responsibility to the debtor, to make sure they are properly informed and things are reviewed and discussed, and they have accurate information going in, but we also have a responsibility to creditors that we make sure that they are held accountable to the duties and responsibilities of the bankrupt would have during the process.

A hockey analogy is always going to work in Canada. It’s always going to help people understand. So, I would think that, for somebody that gets to a point where they have to see a Bankruptcy Trustee, it’s going to be a difficult decision for them, they are going to feel a little bit embarrassed.

Why Should a Client Not Feel Embarrassed Coming to See You?

I think the best reason to not feel embarrassed is because sometimes the best way to know whether or not you can avoid bankruptcy is talk to the person that knows most about a bankruptcy, and quite often, we’ll see people that don’t need to file bankruptcy. We’ve eluded to and mentioned other options available that we can offer such as consumer proposals, which these days in terms of individuals and consumers that are going through a bankruptcy, it’s about 50-50 split especially here in Alberta.

Also, we even see people that do not need our services at all, as that neutral party and as that referee type role. The first thing we’re acquired to do is simply provide an individual information in order for them to make an informed decision. And I think that’s the best reason for an individual not to necessarily be embarrassed to see us, but to seek us out first so that they can have all of the information about all of the other parties in the debt resolution industry and really know what they are getting into.

Trustees are very regulated, were licensed by the federal government. And as such, there is always someone looking over our shoulder at what we’re doing and how we’re doing our jobs. Unfortunately not all professionals or individuals will make that resolution industry, have that same type of regulatory body or license in requirement, so starting with a trustee is usually a good place to see what your options are and if the trustee can you where you don’t are necessarily at a point where you need a Bankruptcy Trustee then we’ll send you in another direction, we’ll give you good recommendation of what you can do in your individual situation.

I often think of that much like a doctor. I’m not saying that I am a doctor because I’m not, but if you are not feeling well, you go to the doctor to find out how you can get better. I think it’s the same thing with your finance. If your finances aren’t working, if you seem to be falling further and further in the hole, quite frankly the consequences can be much more dire if you don’t come and see a professional about it than if you do.

Often times if you go to the doctor, they can prescribe some medication that can help you deal with whatever you’re challenged with, fairly quickly and you can get over it. Same thing happens with your finances.

What are Most People Worried About When They are Coming to See You?

financesOften they are scared that they are going to get garnishment, one of their creditors goes to court and starts feeding money directly off their paycheck. Often they simply looked at their credit card bill and they have realized that they have been making a minimum monthly payment for the last 12 months, but when they read on that statement that’s making the minimum monthly payment is going to result in not having any payments over the next 67 years or some ridiculously large number like that. Often that’s when they call us because they realize if they are not sinking, they are just treading water at the current moment and it’s just a matter of time before they will sink.

And all after that one, the thing that people are most concerned about when it comes to seeing a Bankruptcy Trustee is what the bankruptcy is going to look like, they are not many people out there that know as much as a trustee does and there are also many different types of bankruptcy because our neighbor down to the south in the State have a completely different bankruptcy system and that bankruptcy for a company which is much more publ