"Chartered accountants don't need debt advice, do they?" is the response I invariably hear when introducing myself and explaining what my role is. While the idea may appear to be an amusing paradox at first glance, in reality it is a damaging misconception that has been a major barrier to accessing CABA's services for those who need them the most.
It is a common fallacy that people who experience issues with their finances are in that position due to acting recklessly or irresponsibly. Having worked at CABA for almost 5 years, I can assure you that the reasons are as varied as the types of people I speak to.
On a typical day I might speak to an accountant whose small practise is struggling, a widow of a chartered accountant who is unsure how to handle the finances and a student who is living away from home and finding it difficult to meet the high cost of rent.
The saddest part of this is that all of these individuals will be experiencing feelings of guilt and shame. I always tell them that being a chartered accountant does not make you immune from the difficulties the economy is facing. Any accountant could face redundancy or have their practice see a couple of major clients go under. Likewise life-changing experiences such as serious illness, separation or bereavement could happen to any one of us. My clients are usually great professionals and have worked really hard to be where they are. Being in debt is an awful experience as it is without beating yourself up over it too.
How CABA can help
Those who are initially surprised that CABA offers a debt advice service are also amazed to find out what we actually do. Like many of the other clients who approach us, you may have in your mind that you will have to take the formal insolvency route. You may be convinced that bankruptcy or an IVA are the only choices that you have.
We are happy to not only advise you on whether these solutions are appropriate for you and the possible implications, we are also able to advise you on many other options you might not have considered. For example, we may be able to negotiate directly with your creditors on your behalf and help you come to an informal payment arrangement.
I would like to use this blog to appeal directly to anyone who is experiencing stress due to money worries. You may have found this page after browsing around the CABA site in the small hours, unable to sleep and unsure if you should call. I know it's not easy to talk about this subject, and that that speaking to us is not something you would have ever wanted to do. I would like to assure you that when you do make contact with us, regardless of your circumstances, we won't judge you. Instead, we'll listen and then offer you support and advice.
As this blog has attempted to address some misconceptions surrounding chartered accountants and debt, it only seems fitting to end it on one more. We are often asked if we are part of ICAEW, and if we will be sharing information with them. CABA is an entirely independent charity, everything you tell us is confidential and we do not share any information you have given us with ICAEW, firms, or anybody else without your permission.
If you're experiencing financial difficulty and would like to speak to a member of CABA's support team, contact us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email firstname.lastname@example.org or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.
Written by: Paul Day
CABA Support Officer
Paul Day is one of CABA’s debt support officers, providing assistance and support to Chartered Accountants in financial difficulty. He is a certified member of the Institute of Money Advisers, having completed his certificate in Money Advice Practice in 2013.