In a survey deployed to new customers on 7th February 2014, the team of Personal Finance Managers at Harrington Brooks were scored highly by customers when asked to rate them about a range of things including; The quality of advice, level of knowledge and understanding and regarding their overall level of satisfaction.
87% of customers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that their Personal Finance Manager was able to provide them with the information needed.
86% agreed that it was clear their needs had been understood.
85% were pleased with the service.
And a whopping 81% agreed that based on their experience, they would recommend Harrington Brooks to as friend or colleague.
Harrington Brooks policy to deploy customer surveys at regular intervals during the customers journey and life cycle seems to be paying dividends, with scores trending upward consistently. Both negative and positive comments are fed back to individuals, the team and managers afterwards.
One customer commented of her Personal Finance Manager “She was kind, friendly and clear”.
This is just one of the initiatives launched in the last 12 months to ensure that Harrington Brooks operate with a clear, customer focused approach that aims at continuous improvement, monitoring and development – all with the customer experience in mind.
Survey conducted 07.02.2014, with 162 responses from 1796 invitations. Overall Likert scale average 114 (Jan 2014).
It’s always nice to hear how happy our customers are. We pride ourselves on delivering a high level of customer service, and it’s good to know that we’re getting it right. Here are some examples of the praise our customers have been giving us, many of which have been posted on independent review websites.
“Friendly, reliable and helpful”
“I would like to thank Harrington Brooks for everything regarding my account and I can assure you I will be leaving plenty of praise for all concerned on your website and I would highly recommend you to anyone for the future. I have always found Harrington Brooks to be be both friendly, reliable and helpful with everything and it has been thanks to your help that I will finally be debt free after many years.”
Sent via email.
“Can’t thank you enough.”
“How can I even begin to thank you guys for all that you have done for me, it has been like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,no more sleepless nights due to financial worries,or health worries due to the pressure, I can’t thank you enough. God bless, and take care.”
”Today Lewis Simister, one of Harrington Brooks telephone advisers, cleared up for us in 10 minutes, a minefield of confusion that we had repeatedly requested from HB by email, to no avail. Thank you Lewis for clarity, willingness to give us the answers we needed & for such politeness in dealing with our request. You should be promoted.
“A very thorough review was undertaken of all aspects of my income and out goings right from the word go. It was a fairly painless task, which I had been dreading, but all members of the team put me at ease all the time, which made it a pleasant experience. I feel that everyone was very knowledgeable of the process and what I needed to do at every stage of the process which made it feel as if I was dealing with someone face to face instead of an anonymous face at the end of the line. Well pleased with the whole experience to date.”
“The phone call I received from a member of staff was most polite and extremely reassuring he made me feel very much at easy, his manner was beyond his job and not once was I made to feel uneasy in fact it was quite the opposite, everything was said a happy tone and was only to happy to explain all that was going on and what would be done and how, the gentleman in question was extremely patient and gave excellent advice . He went through everything slowly and asked if I understood things many time he also answered all my questions that I had and tried his upmost best to find solutions where and when needed I can not find fault with the phone call at all and I can honestly say he is a credit to your company and it is clear that he is passionate about trying help people in times that are hard like myself I would certainly give him so much praise for the time and effort he put into giving me help that I needed he went beyond his role and it was a pleasure talking to him.”
“Initially I was reluctant to make the phone call but Harrington Brooks made it very easy through their website to read about the plan and to upload all documents. From there all my creditors were informed and I could ignore the extra amount of phone calls from the creditors. The creditors do everything they can to persuade you to deal with them, even halving the amount owed, but stick with the plan and you’ll be fine. The welcome call goes into all detail so make sure you have 20 mins or so before taking the call. I know to pay a weekly payment and I’m happy”
Statistics showing insolvencies in the fourth quarter of 2013 were published on 7 February 2014 by the Insolvency Service. Despite the fall in individual insolvencies, Harrington Brooks did 2641 IVAs in the last quarter of 2013, representing over 20% of all IVAs – more than any other insolvency provider.
Harrington Brooks aim to provide a holistic service for customers and as such offer a number of different specialist services in this sector under the trading names of Castle Keep Law, One Advice and Ask Finance. This means we are able to ensure the financial solutions we provide are the best option for those struggling with debt.
David Rankin, insolvency practitioner at Harrington Brooks, commented:
David Rankin. One of Harrington Brooks’ Insolvency Practitioners
“These official statistics include Bankruptcy Orders, Debt Relief Orders and Individual Voluntary Arrangements but do not include Debt Management Plans and for this reason the official statistics are an unreliable guide to the overall levels of personal insolvency in England and Wales. Until and unless the government finds a way to monitor new DMPs, the true scale of personal insolvency in England & Wales will remain hidden.
Typically many people try to stave off insolvency in the run-up to Christmas and we often see an increase in people seeking a solution to their debt problems in the first quarter of the year. There are also signs that creditors may be becoming more flexible when considering IVAs so it will be interesting to see how these trends continue in the first quarter of 2014.”
Here’s an overview of the findings published by the Insolvency Service:
1. Individual Insolvencies
There were 24,282 individual insolvencies in England and Wales in the fourth quarter of 2013. This was a decrease of 4.6% on the same period in 2012.
This was made up of: 5,386 bankruptcies,
6,563 Debt Relief Orders (DROs) (down 13.1% over the 2641 12,333 Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
Of these statistics the only increasing category was the level of IVA’s, up 12.3% over the same period. All other categories were down on the previous quarter and on the previous year.
Bankruptcy numbers have been impacted by the introduction of DROs from April
2009, amongst other factors. The number of DROs has been higher than total bankruptcies for six consecutive quarters, while Bankruptcy Orders have been lower than IVAs for the last 11 quarters.
IVAs now make up more than half (51%) of all individual insolvencies.
There were 101,049 individual insolvencies in the calendar year 2013 in England and Wales, a decrease of 7.9% from 2012. Breakdown:
–24% bankruptcies (down 22.8% on 2012),
–27% Debt Relief Orders (down 11.7% on 2012)
–48% Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) (up 4.9% on 2012).
This is the first year in which the number of DROs has been higher than total bankruptcies and the third year where the number of bankruptcies has been lower than IVAs.
Company Liquidation And Individual Insolvency Rates: Longer-Term Perspective
Last year, 1 in 166 active companies (or 0.6% of all active registered companies) went into liquidation. This was down from 1 in 159 in the 12 months, and 1 in 144 in the calendar year 2012.
The liquidation rate remains low compared to the average of 1.2% seen over the last 25 years. It should be noted that the number of active companies has changed considerably over this period: there were 2.7 million active registered companies in Q4 2013; this compares with only about 900,000 in the early 1990s and fewer than 800,000 in 1986.
In the calendar year 2013, 1 in 445 adults (or less than 0.25% of the adult population) became insolvent. This is down from 1 in 439 in the twelve months ending Q3 2013, and 1 in 406 in the calendar year 2012.
Individual insolvency rate is currently above the annual average of around 1 in 1,400 adults (0.1%) seen over the last 25 years.
Total Personal Insolvencies in England & Wales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were down by 4.6% when compared to the same period in 2012 and figures for the whole year show a decrease of 7.9%. Within these figures however the number of Individual Voluntary Arrangements in the fourth quarter has risen by 12.3% when compared with the same period of 2012 and by 4.9% for the year as a whole.
There were a total of 101,049 personal insolvencies in 2013 making it the 8th year in a row where the total number has exceeded 100,000. There were 48,967 IVAs.
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
The Insolvency Service exists to provide the framework and the means for dealing with financial failure in the economy and with the misconduct that is often associated with it. To achieve this we will maintain and develop a world-class insolvency law and regulatory framework; deliver key public services to support that framework; deliver and promote effective investigation and enforcement regime; and ensure an organisation devoted to continuous improvement.
Maintenance company Homeserve, which has described itself as “Britain’s fifth emergency service” has been handed the largest retail fine to date – £30.6m, by City regulators following an 18-month investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The FCA found that 69,000 customers were mis-sold insurance policies, after the company failed to explain their comparative price and coverage. It also found that their pay structure rewarded staff for the number of products that they sold, regardless of whether the customer needed them.
They also found that there were incentives for staff to close complaints, which left a risk that issues were not handled fairly, and that the board was “insufficiently engaged with compliance matters”.
If You Think You May Be Affected
Financial Claims Services, part of the Harrington Brooks Group, are a team of experienced and trained professionals, dedicated to ensuring that all those who are entitled to a claim from mis-sold products receive what they are owed.
If you feel that you could have been mis-sold insurance by Homeserve, or any other provider, do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 975 3439.
This year, the dreaded “Blue Monday” falls on 20th January. So called as it is calculated as the most depressing day of year, based on a pseudoscientific formula which factors in the dreary challenges wearing us down this time of year.
A bad case of the Mondays, combined with the realisation you’re as far from your last to your next payday, with the winter weather wearing us down, the Christmas lights no longer igniting the dark evenings, festivities a distant memory, and motivation at an all-time low, 2013’s debt hangs like an anvil overhead as you try to stick to your New Year’s resolutions… and breathe.
Season For Reflection and Anticipation
With the holidays a time for merriment, spending time (and money) on loved ones, we suggest Blue Monday should initiate a time for reflection upon your expenses in a positive light for the anticipation of a new year.
What Can I Do?
Don’t succumb to the hangover of 2013 with your head in the sand, battling bills and adding to your stress; take Blue Monday as an opportunity for affirmative action to address your debt problems.
According to a press release by a mental health charity, the “formula” is as above where – where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined in the release, nor are units.
Take the time to assess your income and expenditure and formulate a plan. Trim, save and amend where you can and be aware of your circumstances so that there’ll be no surprises like unexpected bills.
You’ve done the maths and the future’s still not looking too rosy? Debt has mounted and, two weeks in, you’re fearing what the rest of 2014 will bring?
Seize the day, own Blue Monday and contact Harrington Brooks for support and peace of mind.
As Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, announces he is the latest public figure to go bust, we take a look at other famous bankrupts. From MC Hammer to Walt Disney, it seems financial difficulty can hit anyone.
Nick Griffin was declared bankrupt for a period of twelve months on 2nd of Jan 2014 in the Welshpool County Court. The politician applied for an IVA, offering to pay 42p in the pound over 5 years to all his creditors, but this offer was rejected. The funds of the BNP remain unaffected, and Mr Griffin has insisted “This order will not prevent me fighting for the interests of the British people or leading the British National Party”.
The singer turned property investor lost all the money he amassed during his Westlife years when the housing market crashed, leaving him owing £4.45m to Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland.
At just 21, Walt Disney was declared bankrupt after an early animation studio that he founded, Laugh-O-Gram, was beset with issues as they attempted to make a film version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland.
Twain, author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi was declared bankrupt after investing his money in the Paige Compositor, a typesetting device rendered obsolete before it was even completed. Despite bankruptcy clearing his debts, Twain undertook a 4 year lecture tour of Europe in order to earn back enough money to pay back all his creditors.
The Atomic Kitten singer has become as well known for her financial troubles as her songs, being made officially bankrupt in 2008 after failing to pay all of a £417,000 tax bill.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, who received almost £300m in ring earnings, was declared bankrupt as a result of his lavish lifestyle, including purchasing cars, jewelry, mansions and a Bengal tiger.
The Eastenders actress filed for bankruptcy in 2013, with debts of £187,000. Her financial difficulties began after she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and her symptoms made it impossible for her to work.
Film actor Burt Reynolds filed for bankruptcy in 1996 with debts of over £5 million, following his divorce from wife Loni Anderson. Reportedly, among his creditors was a wig maker to whom he owed $100,000.
The “U Can’t Touch This” rapper may have sold 50 million records worldwide, but his debts of over $13.7m, including $110,000 to an interior decorator,meant he was forced to file for bankruptcy.
Despite being one of Hollywood’s best paid actors, the Con Air actor filed for bankruptcy after his extravagant spending, including castles, yachts and helicopters, caught up with him, leaving him with an unpaid tax bill of $13m.
There are a lot of myths and mistakes to be made regarding consumer rights. This handy guide explains they key aspects of your rights, and how to enforce them, to make sure you get a fair deal.
Satisfactory Quality and Reasonably Durable
All goods must fit the description above. If they don’t, contact your retailer. The level of quality and durability is debateable, and depends on the expense and nature of the item you have bought. For instance, if you buy a £300 Chloé hand bag and the strap breaks after a week, then it has not lasted a reasonable amount of time. However, if you buy a £2 bucket and the handle comes off after a year, it will be difficult to make a case to get your money back.
Don’t lose out on the products you’ve purchased
As Described and Fit for Purpose
Goods must also be as they have been described on the packaging, by the staff of the shop or in their online description. This links in with goods being fit for purpose. If you’ve bought a charger for your phone, and it isn’t compatible with your phone, you only have a right to take it back if you have been told it is – for example by member of shop staff, the product’s packaging, or its online description.
If you find a fault, you should quickly log your complaint with the seller, as not registering your problem can affect your rights – you should do with within 4 weeks of noticing the problem to prove you haven’t accepted the fault, though you could still argue your case for up to 6 months. You have a return window of 7 days for online goods to return any goods, even if there is no fault.
It is a common myth that if you spot an item that has been incorrectly underpriced you can have the item at that price. The rule only applies if this incorrect price is given at the point of sale – and it is true that once you have paid for an item the shop cannot try and undo their mistake. So if you are charged £2.99 for a £299 holiday online, and you proceed to checkout there and then, once that payment is confirmed the holiday is yours. Equally, if you get charged 2p for a £20 box set at the checkout in Tesco, once you’ve paid the deal is final.
Policies in shops are only in addition to your Consumer Rights, they cannot contradict them. For example, the popular 28 day return policy in clothes shops means you can take clothes back even if there is no fault and you just don’t like them or they are the wrong size (but are still “as described” because the size is in the label). After this time however, you still have a right to take clothes back if they do not meet the standards of “satisfactory quality, reasonably durable, as described and fit for purpose”.
The same rule applies to guarantees as store polices – they are only an addition to your consumer rights. If you have taken due care of an item, and it breaks outside of the guarantee but within the length of time you should reasonably expect it to last, then you should take it back as it suggests a fault with the product when you were sold it. So if your iPod stops working after 366 days, you can still take it back no matter what the Apple assistant says.
Lost your receipt? Don’t panic.
You should state on your receipt that the item has been bought as a gift, to give the recipient the power to take back the gift if it is at fault. Otherwise, the rights still lie with you and so only you have the real right to return or complain.
Losing the Receipt
If you want to take back an item but you can’t find the receipt, you can use a bank statement or other method of proof of purchase in its place (though this is only when enforcing your legal rights, not using a stores policy which may explicitly require a receipt).
Don’t Go to the Manufacturer
Some shops try and deter customers by claiming that consumers will have to take up any issue with the manufacturer. Don’t be fooled – your rights are between you and the seller, and they have an obligation to right any wrongs.
Please note that these are personal, rather than commercial consumer rights and refer to goods not services.
One of the most satisfying aspects of working at Harrington Brooks is knowing we are making a real difference to many families in all sorts of personal and financial turmoil. Many thank us for our help, but it is especially nice to receive a handwritten letter of thanks. This client has successfully completed their IVA and are now free from debt.
To you all at the IVA department,
Names obscured to protect confidentiality.
I am writing to say a big thank you to you all. The last 5 years have been a struggle and lots of hard work to keep a roof over myself and my 6 year old son, Tommy.
I found out my husband of 14 years was a cheat who had cheated on me the full 14 years. He ran debt up in my name and left me with it when Tommy was 13 months old.
With all of your help, many phone calls (where I was often in tears) you were all kind, supportive and always a phone call away.
I am really writing to say you all do a good job and people like me and Harry could not have done it without you!
I can now see light at the end of the tunnel and one more year of payments and hopefully that’s the end of another chapter of my life.
So thank you so much for the good work you do. Tommy and I do appreciate it because I don’t know where we would have been without your help.
Many Thanks, Victoria and Tommy
Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.
Harrington Brooks are delighted to announce that our staff have raised an amazing 552 presents for the Key 103 Mission Christmas campaign, going far above and beyond their target of 200 gifts, and filling the IT room we were using to house the gifts to bursting point!
One of our IT rooms, filled with the fantastic donations from our staff
We visited the warehouse this afternoon to drop off our donations and to see the great work that the Mission Christmas volunteers are doing to make sure all gifts get out before the big day. The helpers were so grateful for all donations, and couldn’t believe our efforts, informing us that we had raised more than Manchester City football club!
The presents go to children in Manchester, where our offices are based, who are living in poverty and who would not otherwise be receiving anything on Christmas Day. As you can imagine, for these children and their families the festive season can often be a difficult time. It is a very worthy cause that we are proud to support.
Mission Christmas HQ, where they get the presents ready to deliver to the children
‘Tis the season for giving and, as most of us know, the season for going broke. Christmas can test even the strictest of budgeters, but follow these mantras to help you through to the New Year without going beyond your means.
1. Portion like a Pro
Christmas dinner is a classic staple of the big day, and everyone wants to be a generous when hosting Christmas get-togethers.
But it’s easy to over do the big shops in December, and end up stretching your wallet as well as your waistline. Visit lovefoodhatewaste.com to help you work out exactly how much you should buy to keep your guests and family happy without leaving you with a lot of expensive waste.
2. Start freeing up freezer space
Start eating up the food in your fridge and freezer before you begin the Christmas stockpile. Not only will it make space, it will save you money on your general food shops.
3. Be strict with your gift list
Work out how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and use this as a start point to work out who you are going to give to this year, and how much you are going to spend on each. Perhaps set a “children only” rule, or organise “Secret Santa” with your colleagues or extended family (this is where everyone in the group selects one person out of a hat to buy for, usually to a budget of around £5-£10. The buyer is only revealed at the present exchange.)
In some cases, honesty is the best policy. If you can’t afford to exchange presents with your partner, best friend or parents this year, then tell them.
4. Expensive doesn’t always mean better
Earlier this year, Aldi came out victorious at The Grocer magazine’s food awards, winning 16 gold medals for its products (2nd came Tesco with 12 gold and 3rd was Asda with 11).
Upmarket supermarkets did not fare as well, with Marks and Spencer scoring 8 gold medals, Waitrose just 3 and Harrods failing to win any gold medals.
So, don’t think you have to spend more to treat yourself this Christmas. Downgrade a brand and see if anyone notices – chances are, they won’t suspect a thing and will love Christmas dinner just as much!
5. Get crafty with decorations
Putting cloves into oranges and piling them into a bowl with some cinnamon sticks will look and smell Christmassy, and making paper chains will keep kids entertained for ages. Similarly, you can attach your Christmas cards to ribbon to turn them into a nice festive display without crowding the mantelpiece.
6. Swap party outfits with a friend
If you like to splash out on a new outfit for occasions, try swapping clothes with a friend. That way you’ll have the “new clothes” feeling, without any price tag.
7. Remember your loyalty points & vouchers
Most supermarkets and stores have offers on in the run up to Christmas that allow you to double or triple the value of your points. It’s also worth checking the vouchers you get with your receipts, as these can also save you money on your shop.
There are also several websites also provide voucher codes
Remember though, vouchers only make a bargain if you needed to buy them anyway – don’t buy extras just because they’re on offer.
8. Consider buying “nearly new”
Ebay, Mumsnet Forums and local “nearly new” sales are great ways to get a quality gift for less. Often items in these sales are unopened or still have the tags still on, so you can benefit from shop fresh items at second hand prices.
9. Get creative with wrapping paper
Get creative with your wrapping,
Metres of plain brown paper can be bought for next to nothing, and can still be impressive with a little effort. If you have young children, let them draw on the paper in coloured crayons before wrapping presents for your family to give them a personal touch. Alternatively, nip to your local park and cut sprigs of holly to stick in the corner of your wrapped gifts, or buy a ream of coloured ribbon to tie in a bow round your presents for a traditional look.
10. Google your gifts
Get online and research your presents to make sure you are getting the best deal before you hit the shops or buy online. You can save a massive percentage off your total costs.
If you do choose to buy online, make sure you check that the delivery date is specified as before Christmas, or you don’t have any right to complain or ask for a refund on the grounds that it didn’t arrive on time.