IBAS - Independent Banking Advisory Service
21st February 2024
Surviving UK Business Banking Debt Claims
Independent Banking Advisory Service (IBAS) - 2023 Report
Since 1992 we have helped many Business Banking Customers defend, negotiate, reduce or eliminate business bank debt claims after they were involved in a banking debt dispute or received business banking debt demands.
IBAS has also assisted many successful Businesses who wished to remain 'independent' after bank pressure and interference in their business which threatened their business survival.
IBAS fully examine the facts of each case we accept to obtain the best possible result for our member. IBAS only offer membership where we consider IBAS will make a difference for the customer.
We help, guide, coach and advise UK business banking customers to survive Business Banking Debt Claims so they do not become bank victims.
We cannot and do not ‘take up’ all cases requesting our assistance or seeking IBAS membership. That would be totally impossible.
We read customer emails and case information very carefully to decide whether our assistance will be for the customer’s benefit. Often, several emails are required to determine core issues.
We offer various membership packages (which can start at £100) but only offer membership, guidance or advice if we are confident we can provide added benefit to help the customer.
Despite more than 10 years of extremely damaging Bank media coverage many bank customers still hope their bank will properly examine their complaints and provide them with ‘fair’ treatment. Ideally, that might happen. But, this is not a fair world and Bank Debt Recovery Units are completely autonomous and operate conveniently outside FCA regulation.
The FCA as The UK Bank Regulator has appeared powerless in protecting business banking customers being stripped of their assets by banks whilst appearing to ignore banks who operate unfairly outside the spirit of the 11 Principles of Banking.
News and Reports on RBS/NatWest/GRG reinforce IBAS 'case work' assessments that Bank Debt Recovery Units continued to use unfair, devious and dishonest tactics to gain debt repayment for Banks on business bank debt claims. Even where some of those debt claims proved to be incorrect or were defaults 'engineered' and triggered by the bank.
Receiving a demand for payment from a bank for a business banking debt claim or Director's personal guarantee liability claim causes great personal anxiety to those who are 'served' with them. The Banks know that. They then use the anxiety and fear for their benefit in targeted and often unfair Debt Recovery tactics.
Customer anxiety will be much greater when their own home is already pledged to the bank or they have signed a Director's Personal guarantee on which the bank can rely.
Business banking customer’s use of telephones as a quick and easy option when faced with such anxiety makes them extremely vulnerable and that can lead them directly into a targeted banking ‘trap’.
The banks ‘tweak’ their demand letters to appear sympathetic. Those letters are intended to ‘encourage’ the customer to telephone the bank quickly.
The banks first aim is to get the customer on the telephone and their letters are deliberately ‘baited’ to appeal to the customer’s instincts to act quickly.
This is a deliberate and psychological bank ‘trick’. It allows the debt recovery officers to 'use' or manipulate the customer's telephone call into 'playing on' the customer's fear. To get ‘into’ the customer’s head, ‘push’ the fear ‘buttons’ and ‘bully’ the customer to provide answers which the bank wants.
Bank Debt Recovery Strategy provides bank debt recovery officers with very good legal training and very organized specific telephone scripts for use when a customer rings them.
That means they are immediately prepared to question the customer and make notes which they will rely on later. The bank telephone scripts are designed to target, frighten and intimidate and also ‘pin down’ the customer into making a proposal to pay which is recorded.
The bank telephone ‘scripts’ are also deliberately intended to ‘flush out’ the customer’s defence or complaint/s at an early stage - so the bank can destroy those quickly.
Debt Recovery officers are are not there to advise the business banking customer at all they are trained to 'take over' and divert the conversation where they want it to go - because they act only for the bank. Once they have the customer on the phone any trick is possible to get what they want.
Many customers exit such calls feeling shellshocked and ‘bullied’. Only then do they realize Debt Recovery Units are not like any other bank department they have ever dealt with before. They also realize there was no real intention to help them.
Once the bank has recorded all they need in information from the customer they will be even more ‘motivated’ into taking the customer’s assets to get paid. That may also include the customer’s home.
From that moment on the bank will be working to the banks timescale - not the customers.
Therefore, telephoning the bank is an exceptionally bad idea. It may turn out to be catastrophic with no benefits for the customer as the bank will target the customer’s assets at a very much quicker pace than the customer might have wanted - which creates even more stress.
We have found that customers who thought the bank might be fair with them only found they were wrong after the bank has totally compromised their position. But, that realisation was too late as they were financially crippled and victims to the banks relentless asset stripping.
Maybe customers are fooled by the bank’s demand letter into thinking the easy way is to fill in the bank’s form and offer £10 a month? Or better still tell the bank there is nothing to make a proposal to them? Unfortunately, not being able to pay a demand is not a defence to a business banking debt claim.
Many customers do not understand just how much information is easily available to banks regarding customer’s finances. Banks have very reliable networks to search all customer financial information and assets once they have ‘issued’ the customer with a demand.
The Demand on the customer is a legal requirement and a necessity for them in gaining information from other financial providers. It allows the bank to search for the customer’s assets and collect all such information for the Bank to rely on later.
The bank will also have quite detailed bank internal notes taken from what the customer has told them during conversations. All important financial information which concerns customers and their family will have been recorded.
Just think about what any customer may have told the bank in what they thought were ‘off the cuff’ and personal ‘chats’ with a friendly banker. Most customers are very surprised by the notes that have been recorded about them by the Bank.
When IBAS has been tasked with assisting solicitors in claims involving business banking debts and personal guarantees we have been allowed access to bank internal files as part of the ‘discovery process’.
The ‘internal notes’ record many notes and small details on the customer and also their family. Including assets, property and possible inheritance claims. They also include some very personal information.
All information is of value to the bank in seeking payment for a debt claim later. Other alarming notes evidenced how resentful and derogatory bank employees were to the customer.
What we have seen show a distinct ‘them and us situation’. Where the customer was viewed as just another ‘punter’ and their property ‘up for grabs’ - as and when required.
If bank customers saw such notes they would be a great deal more careful in sharing financial information with their bank.
Of course, once the bank’s demand is issued the bank will be actively ‘searching’ all their sources of information (including their internal bank notes) for how best to exert pressure to obtain payment from the customer.
Initial information is obtained on the customer’s existing mortgage, charges, how much is outstanding, what the property is worth - that’s before the customer completes a Bank Personal Financial Statement.
Therefore the bank will be aware very quickly whether the customer has resources which could pay the bank. The customer’s bank doesn't need a customer’s authority once they have issued a demand for payment.
Other lenders will willingly provide information requested and the customer will not know the bank has asked.
The customer’s completed financial statement then allows the bank to double check the customer’s full financial position to see if anything else the customer has provided ‘leads’ them to further property/assets of which they were not previously aware.
The bank’s existing knowledge of their customer will already be very good and a completed personal financial statement from the customer will provide the bank with an exceptional opportunity to pinpoint exactly where to concentrate to take assets (or to charge against) later to obtain full payment.
If the customer offers £10 a month as a proposal but the bank can see the customer has available assets to pay the bank more quickly the bank will seek to put additional pressure on the customer. The bank has several weapons for that.
IBAS experiences of case work over many years shows us that the customer’s family remaining together intact and also their personal survival from a business banking debt ‘claim’, depends largely on whether the customer is able to channel immediate anxiety from the bank’s demand letter into a much more positive thought process in protecting their family.
Protecting their family also requires the bank customer to not make the mistake of believing the bank will treat them fairly after the Bank have issued a demand for payment.
Many customers struggle along uncertain of what they can do whilst allowing the bank to exert ‘control’ and decide their fate. If the customer does not have a plan the bank certainly does!
IBAS see many cases and if we are involved early at the demand stage we can guide the the customer and also protect them. Their case can be properly assessed and they can be provided with an action Plan based on all the facts.
That is the real value of IBAS and what IBAS membership is meant to do. It might also help, if the customer is aware what the bank’s ‘thinking’ is when they make demand on the customer.
A bank’s Demand is issued only when the company/business/ partnership/sole trader cannot or has not paid what the bank requested. What is clear to us is that the bank’s Demand in most cases also ends any business - customer ‘relationship’.
If the demand is not paid in full within 14 days the bank branch ‘relationship’ with the customer ceases. The bank then consider the customer is no longer a customer of their Bank and therefore the Bank no longer owes the ex customer any duty at all.
That means there is no longer a ‘business banking relationship’. There is normally a period of inaction, whilst the file (which you may think is in dispute because of your complaint/s) is transferred to the bank’s debt recovery unit.
If you contact the branch during this time of inaction they will ignore your call or just play ‘dumb’ as your file is between branch or Commercial Centre and the Bank Debt Recovery Unit - awaiting a debt recovery case officer to be allocated to it.
It is a serious mistake for the customer to not use the bank’s ‘inactive’ period for their benefit. We have seen very few customers who were able to regain normal ‘Branch banking’ relationships with the same Bank after Bank Debt Recovery became involved.
The danger in not using that period of inactivity is that those business banking customers with legitimate concerns or disputes may then lose important information. Such information could be used by IBAS later to verify information which may protect them and their family.
The customers positive ‘activity’ at this time will eliminate a good deal of the immediate anxiety for them and their family but may also provide important information which otherwise may be lost.
IBAS will then be able to focus attention on what is required to best help the customer as immediately a bank debt recovery officer is allocated to the customer’s file the customer’s position is under an increased threat.
This is the most dangerous time for the business bank customer facing the bank’s debt recovery strategy. From now onwards the bank will seek to ‘control the claim’ for their benefit.
The Bank debt recovery officer will issue a further demand on the customer to pay up or provide proposals within 14 days. They may also phone the customer to gain/obtain ‘proposals’ to pay whilst the letter is on it’s way.
That’s the ‘bank trick’ which catches many customer out. At the same time The Debt Recovery Unit will also send out a Personal Financial Statement which is a Disclosure form for you to complete. They will request completion and return within 14 days.
However, completing that form and making proposals to pay will end or compromise any dispute or defence the customer may have had before proposals were made. Making a proposal also allows the bank to continue onto legals without delay (often within days) as that form signed and delivered to the bank is confirmation that the customer accepts the debt/s being claimed - otherwise why would they complete it?
Customers ask why the bank requires so much information (which varies between 8 - 16 pages of financial questions) and they also often query what does the bank really want?
It is important to know why the bank asks questions and request the customer completes a personal financial statement and signs it.
The reason is that all items on the form will be assessed individually by the bank as to what is in their opinion: a) a necessity and b) what is frivolous or c) extravagant. Household expenses will be evaluated individually against the Standard Financial Statement ‘trigger figures’ on expenditure guidelines which are accepted by the courts.
The ‘trigger figures’ are not supposed to be generally available and the Money Advice Trust only wants CFS license holders to know or use them. The ‘trigger figures’ are also apparently exempt from Freedom of Information requests.
Therefore, the customer competing those forms personally may lead to the bank ‘finding’ large amounts of ‘expenditure’ which they can then claim is unnecessary and then argue that all such amounts should be used to pay them.
Also, the customer making a proposal on that form does not mean that the bank will accept what you have proposed. They will only consider it. That consideration ends if they can ‘see’ more assets or funds are available.
They will want as much as they can get. Making even a small proposal binds the customer to the debt claim and 'opens up' the financial information provided for the bank’s debt recovery team to carry out a very close examination. The bank will be seeking the quickest form of payment and at this stage (they will be thinking weeks and months - not years).
Whilst the bank’s letters are intended to show compassion that is only to obtain an offer to pay. Once they have the customer’s proposal it is a case of how much and how quickly. It is often the speed of the bank’s actions at this time and also their deviousness which shock customers.
Unfortunately, every bank has a strategy to eliminate any defence to the bank’s claim as soon as possible. It is not unusual for a customer to make a proposal for a small sum and in very short time the customer is ‘served’ with the bank’s debt claim through the courts with additional costs.
Customers losing any possible defence also means losing any possible negotiation, which then places them and their family completely at the bank’s ‘mercy’ - and banks are not known for showing mercy.
If the customer has a home and mortgage, those and any other assets ‘shown’ will be investigated and assessed by the bank’s Debt Recovery Unit for ‘available’ equity. The property where the customer lives will be examined much more closely to establish how best to ‘release’ equity quickly.
The bank will also assess whether there is a pension fund to plunder.
If the customer claims they are renting a property, the bank will seek a rental agreement and closely examine any connections with their own family to that property or indeed that 'agreement'.
Having an unanswered business banking dispute will not change the bank’s strategy once Demand has been issued and Debt Recovery is engaged in collecting the debt claim. The bank then consider that the customer is no longer a customer of their Bank and they want their money back ASAP. They are then set in the ‘mode’ to collect that debt in any way they can and as quickly as they can.
Bank Customers who are referred to IBAS by friends who have already experienced IBAS Resolutions consider they are the ‘lucky ones’. Their relief when IBAS ‘take on’ their case is obvious.
They are already aware that IBAS will fully investigate and ‘interrogate’ their case information and details before we provide suitable and practical business options.
The majority of enquiries to IBAS have some very real concerns on the way their business was treated by the bank. Those who are offered IBAS membership are generally seeking a fair resolution. Only a very small percentage of bank customers are seeking to evade the debt.
Sometimes, they just require a reasonable period of time to be able to pay a properly ‘qualified amount’ or a fair figure based on what had gone wrong in their banking relationship. IBAS Testimonials show that in some cases the total bank debt claim has been eliminated by IBAS.
In other cases the debt claim has been vastly reduced. IBAS testimonials evidence how many of our members have followed IBAS guidance to successful conclusions.
But, many more have also gained extremely successful conclusions and we have not heard from them since their case concluded. Even after an exceptional result, bank customers providing IBAS with a testimonial is not a priority as the bank pressure has been removed. it can be 'put off' - because IBAS has already done it’s job!
However, enquiries still come to IBAS from our previous members, although they may not have provided testimonials. When they find others also requiring our specialist help they pass them onto us. We are grateful they are helping someone else. That is also an excellent Testimonial for IBAS.
I hope this ‘expose’ helps those seeking assistance with a business banking debt claim or Director's Personal Guarantee Debt Claim or Bank Mortgage dispute to properly understand what they face if they personally attempt to communicate with their bank after demand.
If more business bank customers with a bank debt demand avoided the bank telephone ‘trap’ and emailed IBAS instead - more families would be making more positive decisions to strengthen their own position.
IBAS 'case work' since 1992 has 'shown' how devious bank debt recovery teams are. That is especially true when they have customers directly available to them on the telephone, when only they are recording what is being said. However, this Report cannot reveal all the bank’s debt recovery ‘tricks’ which follow on from a bank’s demand for payment or the devious ‘legal' shenanigans used to ‘take’ customer’s assets and property. Whilst IBAS are aware of the majority of the bank’s debt recovery ‘tricks’ following a bank’s demand for payment, we would need to write a book to cover more – that may well come later.
IBAS knowledge of what banks have done and are still doing in Bank Debt Recovery Units has been instrumental in guiding and helping a great many IBAS members survive against often malicious Bank Debt Recovery Unit tactics.
I hope this Report will galvanize business bank customers or ex customers to make positive decisions.
We would be grateful if you would pass on this IBAS Report to anyone you know in a business banking dispute in the UK who is seeking to survive and be positive in their business.
Eddy Weatherill - IBAS ceo 30th November 2023
By 2002 Independent Banking Advisory Service had obtained more than £21 million in refunds, write-offs and write-down of bank debt for our Business Banking customers from successful investigations of UK Business Banking Disputes
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IBAS has featured on BBC TV, BBC 1999 Testimonial for IBAS BBC TV News, ITV News, Meridian TV and Sky TV News since 1992 and contributed banking editorials and business banking articles for the Sunday Times, Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Telegraph and Daily Mirror.
Independent Banking Advisory Service (IBAS) - launched in 1992 as specialist UK Business Banking Dispute Resolution Experts assisting and advising UK Business Bank customers with UK business banking account overdraft, loan disputes and business banking debt disputes.