Archive for the ‘Positive thinking’ Category

Sources of Enterprise Funding Available for Businesses turned down by Banks

May 15, 2014

money

Do you need help bridging a financial gap for your business, but the bank has turned you down? Don’t be disheartened; there are other sources of funding that might be able to help.

Quintas partner Yvonne Barry helps small to medium enterprises (SMEs) find funding when banks have said no. She’s a non-executive director of Microfinance Ireland, and also the Chairperson of Cork Foundation.

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is a not-for-profit lender; established to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. The fund forms part of a suite of financial schemes provided through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to help businesses across all industry sectors.

“Many people have start-up or growing enterprises that may be commercially viable and need a loan, but don’t meet the conventional criteria required by banks”, explains Yvonne. “MFI has a much higher risk appetite; and are not profit oriented so the parameters are different. Helping create or sustain jobs is at the heart of what we do.”

Launched a year ago, MFI provide loans up to €25k for business of fewer than 10 employees; with an interest rate of 8.8% to be repaid over 3 – 5 years.

You’ll still have to show evidence of cash flow; turnover and a solid business plan, you can apply directly or via your local enterprise board who will help you with the application process.

The Cork Foundation can also help by providing access to funds for investment in Cork enterprise.

With some impressively experienced strategic advisors on the board, the Foundation works on finding funding solutions outside existing models. A unique aspect of the Cork Foundation is that it is self-funded through contributions from the Cork/Irish Diaspora, Cork based businesses and philanthropists. We aim to connect contributors directly to private and community enterprises in Cork City and County.

“Applying for a loan is an arduous and daunting prospect; and being turned down is very dispiriting”, says Yvonne. “We’d like to see more people realise that there is funding out there”, says Yvonne, “Nobody is going to drop it into your lap; as with most things worth fighting for, it’ll take an extra bit of drive to get it over the line!”

An entrepreneurial spirit; a passion for your business and the commitment to make it work are what success stories are made of.

For further information call Yvonne Barry at Quintas on 021 464 1400

www.quintas.ie

www.microfinanceireland.ie

www.corkfoundation.com

Article as recently featured in the Cork News.

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What does running a marathon and a business have in common?

May 27, 2013

1352797906xv6OB0To start with it takes a brave person to do either. I have great admiration for anyone who is willing to take a risk and follow their dream of running (excuse the pun) and owning their own business.

With the Cork City Marathon fast approaching on the 3rd June I thought I would try to find some common ground:

Passion – without passion or a love for what you are doing you will struggle during the hard miles that we all experience when things aren’t going our way,

Planning –   hugely important to have a plan mapped out of how you are going to achieve your goals,

Training Buddy – find someone (a friend, colleague, peer, advisor etc) that you can rely on to keep you motivated when the need arises and also to allow you openly express your hopes and fears for your business,

Patience – ‘all good things come to those that wait’. Try to remain patient and don’t take any unnecessary risks or rash decisions without taking into consideration your overall strategic plan,

 Hard Yards – ‘nothing worth doing is easy; if it was everyone would be doing it’. The hard yards are the times when you find out how much you really want something,

 Set backs – injuries are part and parcel of running and as with any part of life set backs and disappointment will happen throughout the lifetime of a business. It is how you respond and react and learn from them that will determine the long term future of the business,

 Feel the burn – a common phrase in high intense exercise that is appropriate to those moments when your brain is completely fried and you feel that you cannot go on – these are the moments that should be cherished, as what better way to know that what you are doing is actually working,

Hang in there it will pass – They say that for a marathon anyone can run 20 miles it’s the last 6.2 that are the hardest part. The phrase ‘Hitting the Wall’ has legendary status and it is one of the biggest fears for a runner as they are unsure when it will come and how they will react when it does. After doing the Dublin marathon last year, a frequent question that I was asked was what was it like and when did I hit the wall, my response  was always the same ‘the wall hit me and it hurt’. When you hit an obstacle or problem in your business that you feel is insurmountable ‘Hang in there it will pass’

Top Class Equipment – You wouldn’t run a marathon in a pair of football boots, GAA jersey and sweatpants would you? The same thought process and Fit for Purpose attitude should apply to your business. It may cost a bit extra but it is essential to have the most up to date equipment, software, training etc to ensure that you are always one step ahead of the competition,

 Expert advice – whether it is your 1st marathon or you are starting up a new business we all face the challenge of entering into the unknown. It is important to seek as much advice, help and assistance from people you know and trust who may have been through a similar experience before and that would be willing to help you on your path. This may just be small tips on mistakes to avoid at the start of your adventure.

Where to now? – The 1st thought after crossing the line is usually where do I go from here? Am I done or will I try for one more. A business as with a runner never really has a finish line it just has another challenge ahead. As a business owner you should set small goals and big goals that you want to achieve throughout the year and commit to a finish line date where you will review last year and set your business goals for the next 12 months.

 It seems these days that there are more people running, cycling, swimming and exercising outdoors than ever before. Everyone is different and they maybe doing it to lose weight, stay in shape, achieve a goal, honour someone’s memory, raise money for charity or in a lot of cases help to relieve some of the stress that we all face in our daily lives.

 I hope that some of the above makes sense and if you are running a business or a marathon now or in the near future I hope that all your dreams and goals come through.

Regards,

Mark Ryan

Mark is a Director at Quintas

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Quintas Quarterly Economic Review (Winter 2013)

February 6, 2013

2c9c806Since mid 2008 successive Governments have taken over €28 billion out of the Irish economy in tax rises and spending cuts, the equivalent of well over 15% of national output. The most recent budget removed €3.5 billion. The Governments aim in doing this is to leave the EU/IMF austerity programme and to reduce the budget deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2015, which currently stands at 8.2%, one of the highest in the EU.

The Government is relying on economic growth to meet its budget targets in 2013. It is forecasting 1.5% GDP growth for the year. This growth level could be seen as optimistic given our dependence on an export led recovery to achieve this. Our main export markets continue to experience difficulties, particularly with the eurozone in recession and a weakening British economy.

While bond yields reflect success for the Government in meeting its targets set by the EU/IMF, the sustainability of Ireland’s public debt which is expected to hit 118% of GDP this year is of concern. Almost a third of this debt is accounted for by Government support to the banking sector. This is where much emphasis has been placed by the Government, trying to negotiate a restructuring with the ECB on promissory notes worth €30 billion. A reduction on our debt is important and there is now much emphasis being placed on Ireland having the EU presidency at the start of 2013 as a means of achieving this.

by James McCarthy,

James is an Investment Analyst in Quintas Wealth Management

This article featured in the recent Quintas Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2013

The views expressed in this article  is not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision

Budget 2013 – a lack of positivity and innovation

December 6, 2012

budget-300x169As predicted the Budget will have a significant impact on all individuals but will effect middle class families in particular. A property tax, reduced child benefit payments, increased excise duties on cigarettes and alcohol and changes to the PRSI system were among the main measures announced. Average low to middle income families will lose up to €1,100 a year as a result of property tax, cut in child benefit and PRSI changes.

The Budget has had limited changes in income tax, namely;

  • USC – Eligibility test to pay the lower 4% rate is being amended to introduce an income threshold of €60,000 to those aged 70 years and over
  • Maternity Benefit to be taxable
  • PRSI – withdrawal of the €127 per week Employee’s PRSI-Free Allowance
  • PRSI – extended to unearned income, rental etc

The main form of taxation measures has been through indirect taxation, with

  • Property Tax introduced with banded system at 0.18% on residential properties up to €1m and 0.25% applying in excess of €1m
  • Excise Duty increases of €0.10 for beer, cider and spirits and cigarettes and an increase of €1 on a 75cl bottle of wine
  • Motor Tax increases

The CGT, CAT and DIRT rates all increased from 30% to 33%.  This increase to 33% on DIRT rate is applicable to ordinary deposit accounts and from 33% to 36% on long-term deposit accounts.

The tax relief on pensions will continue at the marginal rate of 41% but will be restricted to pension schemes that deliver a pension of €60,000 per year.

There were some positive measures introduced for business, namely;

  • Hauliers Diesel Rebate
  • Increase in cash receipts threshold for VAT to €1.25m
  • Enhancement of the start up company exemption
  • Extension of Film and EII Tax Reliefs to 2020

However, it is unfortunate that the Government did not take the opportunity to bring in more targeted measures rather than the generic nature of the SME 10 Point Tax Reform Plan. The Budget lacked any real form of positivity and it is a pity that nothing was introduced to assist the construction sector where unemployment levels are highest.

As always there will be further changes in the Finance Bill itself.

Regards,

Sean McSweeney

Sean is Tax Director at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Budget 2013 Predictions and Positive changes that can make a difference.

November 29, 2012

The only certainty in the upcoming budget on the 5th December is that in 2013 there will be further taxes increases (direct and indirect) and public spending cuts of approximately € 3.5bn to € 4bn. This will leave the budgeted deficit of the exchequer in 2013 of circa € 10.5 bn.

We have compiled below some of our predictions of the likely tax changes in the budget and some of our suggestions that we feel would assist the economy and in turn businesses recover in 2013.

Predictions

  1. Capital Gains Tax – Retirement relief and the tax free threshold of € 750,000 may be reduced.
  2. Capital Acquisitions Tax – for Business and Agricultural relief it is likely that both of these maybe reduced or restricted (current relief at 90%).
  3. Pension Fund limit – the current ceiling of € 2.3m will be reduced and there maybe a reduction in the current 25% tax free lump sum that can be taken on retirement.
  4. Higher Income Earners – given the governments commitment not to increase income tax rates,  there could be further increases in the USC for incomes above € 100,000/€ 150,000
  5. New tax on high value pensions – this could involve an increase in the current pension levy or a tax/surcharge on pensions over a certain value.
  6. Capital Gains Tax losses – given the losses incurred on investments over the last few years there maybe a restriction on the carry forward of losses against future capital gains.
  7. Property Tax – this will be in place in 2013 with a projected start date of 1st July 2013. There is currently a debate as regards how this will be calculated but it will probably be based on a valuation of the property with bands of approx € 50,000. To view the current value of properties sold in your area click the link to the Residential Property Register website .
  8. Old Reliables – increases in excise on alcohol, tobacco, petrol/diesel, carbon tax. Given the continued contraction in the domestic economy in 2012 it would be surprising if the VAT rates were increased but this could be on the table.

Suggestions For Positive Changes

  1. Stamp Duty exemption – on commercial property transactions where this involves the transfer of a personal property to a limited company as part of a debt re-structure.
  2. Property Tax exemption – for purchasers of new residential property for three  years. Given that a large portion of the sales proceeds of each house sale goes to the exchequer this would be an incentive for the property sector.
  3. House extension grants/tax credits – provide a grant/additional tax credits for house extensions/home improvements. This would involve pre approval of the grants and include all original documentation for the renovation before the grant is paid. This would reduce the level of loss to the exchequer due to the black economy.
  4. EII – Employment Incentive Investment – the inclusion of relief under the EIIS in the list of “specified reliefs” for the High Earners’ Restriction may be counter-productive. The EII scheme provides much needed funding to the economy which allows businesses to expand, export and employ the additional staff necessary to grow their business.
    It maybe advisable to follow the UK model that has decided not to include business reliefs in their new cap on income tax reliefs, on the basis that business reliefs are already capped and further limitations simply prevent investors from taking business risks. The three year investment term is also felt to be to short a timeframe for the company to build reserves to repay the EII investment.
  5. Job Creation Grants – this would be an annual grant for a new employee currently on the live register that will be paid on a monthly basis over 12 months. This will reduce the Social Welfare bill and also incentivise businesses to expand and employ new staff in 2013.
  6. Retain/reduce Employers PRSI at 10.75%.
  7. Merge the new Property Tax with the current NPPR charge – they are basically the same charge on property.
  8. Temporary Pension fund withdrawals – Consider allowing a once off drawdown from an individual’s pension fund. Both of these pension fund drawdowns will be subject to tax, PRSI and USC.
  9. VAT Cash receipts basis – increase the current threshold from € 1m to € 2m.
  10. Tax relief on investment in SME’s – allow tax relief for individuals providing an investment loan to a business.
  11. Entrepreneurial Tax – introduce a reduced rate of Capital Gains Tax (10%) for gains on entrepreneurship to incentivise business start-ups and job creation.
  12. SME Lending – this is an area that needs significant assistance as the level of lending is not sufficient and it is having a direct impact on the sustainability of businesses that need working capital during a period of significant change.
  13. Apply the current Capital Gains Tax rate to dividends from trading Limited companies. This would hopefully release funds into the economy that is currently tied up in Limited companies.

Regards,

Sean McSweeney

Sean is Tax Director at Quintas.

This post first appeared on the Sage blog as part of a series of Business advisory articles by Sage Ireland.

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Irish Property Market – Turn the Crisis into your Opportunity

August 2, 2012

In this article we review the dramatic changes in the Irish Commercial Property Market (ICPM) – (shops, offices, industrial units, hotels, development land) over the last 5 years and the opportunities arising therein.

The ICPM collapsed between 2007 and 2011 with values falling from between 50% (select offices) and 95% + (development land).  In 2007, total turnover in the ICPM was c. €2.5bn with this reducing by c.99% to c. €25m in 2011. The 2011 figure excludes the Google and Penny’s transactions with NAMA.

There are a number of reasons behind the dramatic fall in the ICPM including:

  1. Lack of domestic and international confidence
  2. Reluctance to buy in a falling market
  3. Illiquid banking market
  4. Debate on upward only rent reviews (UORR).

Properties are essentially sold on a multiple of rents. An annual rent agreed in Celtic Tiger years is likely to be significantly higher than current market values for comparable properties. If you buy a property on 10 times Celtic Tiger rent and the rent falls owing to the abolition of UORR, then this would have a significant impact on the value of your property. UORR clauses are prohibited in leases taken out after February 2010, but are in place in most leases before then.  The current government were threatening to implement retrospective changes to the UORR clause in leases prior to February 2010.

In his December 2011 budget the Minister for Finance made 3 significant changes to try and reinvigorate the ICPM.  They were:

  1. Stamp duty reduced from a max of 6% to 2%
  2. Introduced capital gains tax relief on properties purchased before the end of 2013 and held for 7 years.
  3. He indicated that the government would not be proceeding with legislation to abolish UORR clauses.  He said “it has not proved possible to develop a targeted scheme to tackle this issue that would not be vulnerable to legal challenge”.

Since these changes there has been significant movement in the Dublin property market with 8/10 large sales having been completed to foreign buyers including Grand Canal Hotel & Gas Work (Alliance) complex of 210 apartments.

Interestingly the latter transaction was completed by one of the parties who invested in Bank of Ireland last year & who have indicated they intend to spend €500m on Irish property over next 18 months. Foreign buyers have not been active in the Irish Market for nearly 10 years.

At present another factor affecting the ICPM is the excessive savings culture that has been built up over the last few years in response to the various crises.  This culture has been strengthened by the premium interest rates on offer in the main banks.  It is estimated that Irish personal savings currently amount to c. €90bn.  I note from media reports over the last few months that the banks have started to reduce the premium rates on offer.  As confidence in our economy improves and saving rates reduce towards the ECB rate of 1% it is likely that investors will start to look for other investments and once again consider property for a portion of their investment portfolios.

We believe that the c.60% fall from peak values coupled with the changes in the budget and renewed foreign interest, signal the beginning of the recovery in the ICPM. Over the last 6 months, here in Quintas we have reviewed a variety of property transactions from partly finished residential blocks, to hotels, to offices and have evaluated each in terms of risk and potential returns.

We have recently launched an investment opportunity for pension clients (click her for a detailed brochure ), where we are purchasing a tenanted bank branch at a purchase price of 40% of its peak price & with 19.5 years left on the lease.

If you would like further details or indeed discuss any of the points raised in this article please contact me on kkane@qwm.ie.

by Kenny Kane

Kenny is a Director at Quintas Wealth Management

The views expressed in this article  is not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision

10 Tax Savings Tips that can save you money.

July 19, 2012

Despite a national advertising campaign by revenue over the last number of years, there is still a significant sum of cash that is not being claimed correctly by tax payer’s. It is important to note that there is a 4 year time limit for claiming refunds of income tax.

Please find below some of the reliefs that you are entitled to use to reclaim/reduce the amount of tax and PRSI that you are currently paying.

Rent a room

This scheme was introduced during the boom to assist tax payers to ‘get on the property ladder’. This additional income was included by the lender when stress testing the repayment capacity of the prospective borrower.

This scheme is still in place today and allows you to receive up to € 10,000 tax-free income for renting a room/rooms in your home. For more information please click here

Rent Relief

If you are paying rent for private residential accommodation and are paying income tax in Ireland you are entitled to an additional tax credit. This credit can be claimed through the PAYE system or as part of your annual income tax return if you are self-employed. For more information please click here

Flat Rate Expenses

These are expenses that can be claimed by an employee based on the nature of their work or profession. These flat rates have been agreed by revenue but you will need to claim this credit from revenue as it is not automatically added to your tax certificate.  Examples of professions that would qualify would include nurses, pilots, doctors, journalists, hotel workers etc

For more information and to view a detailed list of the professions that qualify please click here.

Film Finance

This is a scheme where Irish Investors have been able to claim tax breaks by financing a film or television production under the Section 481 tax scheme. This tax relief allows you to invest up to € 50,000 in a film or television production and to claim tax relief on the amount of the investment.

At Quintas this is a scheme that we are familiar with and we currently have a film investment available, should you wish to receive more information please email film@quintas.ie

For more detailed information on the scheme please click here

EII – Employment Incentive Scheme

 

This scheme replaced the old BES (Business Expansion Scheme) last year. In return for investment in a qualifying company you can avail of up to 41% (30% in the year of investment and the balance of 11% in the year following the 3 year investment period subject to certain conditions being met).

The EII scheme has widened the list of qualifying companies to include most businesses in the SME sector.

 

Quintas Wealth Management (“QWM”) is authorised to act as manager of an EII fund and its fund is one of the few regulated/authorised funds in Ireland having first set up the Quintas Wealth Management BES Fund in 2008. It has since launched a Quintas Wealth Management BES Fund in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

QWM has successfully raised to date c. €7m in BES/EII schemes. QWM has completed 12 investments in 10 companies and is actively looking for qualifying company’s to invest in its 2011 EII fund.

 

The EII fund offers high-rate taxpayers an opportunity to shelter a significant portion of your income in a tax-efficient manner and tax relief can be claimed against your total income. It is one of a few remaining all income tax deductions offering up to 41% tax relief and offers investors the potential for a high, after-tax return.

If you require more information on EII or have queries on whether you could avail of tax relief under this scheme please click here

Tuition Fees

Students or their parents can claim tax relief on tuition fees paid for approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as certain information technology and foreign language courses. You can claim tax relief as long as you have paid the fee yourself or on behalf of another person.

This relief does not include exam or administration fees and you cannot claim back any amount which you did not incur such as a grant, scholarship or an amount that was paid by your employer.

This relief is at the standard rate of tax (currently 20%) and there are a number of different thresholds depending on the course and the institution.

For more information please click here.

Bike to Work Scheme

Introduced in 2009 this scheme provides an allowance to employees to purchase a new bike and safety equipment up to € 1,000. An employer deducts the cost of the bike from the employee through payroll each month. This could lead to a potential saving of up to 52% depending on the income of the particular employee. There is also the added benefit to your health in availing of the scheme.

For more information please click here

Tax Saver Commuter Ticket Scheme

This scheme was set up to encourage people to use public transport. The scheme works in a similar manner as the bike to work scheme above in that the cost of the ticket is deducted from the employees gross pay which means that this amount will not be subject to tax and Prsi.

The employer and employee must sign a contract indicating the commuter ticket being used and then deduct the cost of the ticket through the payroll system. This scheme should include most forms of public transport and some private operators.

For more information please click here

Donate to Charity

To avail of this relief the minimum amount that must be donated to a qualifying charity is € 250 per year. The scheme means that the charity can claim an additional 20% on the amount invested over € 250 back from revenue. (i.e. the donation is actually worth € 300 to the charity)

For more information please click here

Medical Expenses

As a tax payer you are entitled to claim back costs for medical expenses incurred on an annual basis. This would include the cost of prescriptions, doctors, medical consultants, physio, non-routine dental bills etc. It is important to note that you cannot claim any amount reimbursed by your health insurance company.

For more information please click here.

I hope that the above tax saving tips have been of benefit to you and that you end up having a little bit more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.

Regards,

Mark Ryan

Mark is a Director at Quintas

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Are you concerned about not being able to meet your mortgage repayments?

July 11, 2012

If you are, the Central Bank of Ireland’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (“the Code”) sets out clearly a range of rules which your mortgage lender must follow when dealing with you. This Code came into effect on the 1st January 2011 and is applicable to anyone who is in arrears on their mortgage payments on their sole or main property. The Code is a reflection of the fact that Mortgage Arrears and the Handling of Mortgage Arrears is an ongoing top priority for the Central Bank of Ireland (“CBI”). Mortgages through a Credit Union are not covered by the Code.

Your lender must have procedures in place to deal with your situation and find an appropriate solution for your circumstances under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (“MARP”). MARP is the process for dealing with customers in or at risk of mortgage arrears and each mortgage lender must have an information booklet that sets out its MARP which must be available on its website.

Essentially MARP is a 5 step process:

Step One        Contact your mortgage lender immediately

Step Two        Complete a Standard Financial Statement

Step Three     Assessment of your financial situation

Step Four       Seeking a resolution

Step Five        Appealing a decision

Step One        Contact your mortgage lender immediately

If you are behind with your mortgage repayments or feel you may shortly experience difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments your first step should be to contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss the situation. Discussing your mortgage repayment problems as early as possible will help in reaching a solution. Any delay in contacting your lender may result in your mortgage arrears situation becoming worse than it would have been otherwise. Your branch must have at least one specially trained person with specific responsibility for dealing with your situation who will conduct your meeting in private. Your lender must treat your case sympathetically. You have the right to nominate a third party to discuss the situation with your lender on your behalf such as MABS so long as you give your permission in writing.

 

How your lender must communicate with you.

If your mortgage is in arrears for 31 days, your lender must write to you of your mortgage account status within 3 business days. The letter must include the following:

  • State the date that the mortgage fell into arrears, the amount of arrears in euros and the total amount of full or partial payments missed;
  • Confirm that it is treating your case as a MARP case;
  • Highlight the importance of you cooperating with your lender during the MARP process and notify you that, if co-operation stops, the protections of the MARP no longer apply and that the lender may start legal proceedings for repossession;
  • Include a statement that fees, charges and penalty interest in relation to the arrears will apply where you do not co-operate with your lender.

It is important to note that apart from communications that your lender must give you there are limits on the number of communications your lender can make with you. The CBI is cognisant of the fact that unexpected and excessive contact from your lender can be stressful and the Code requires that such contact be proportionate and not excessive. Therefore the CBI limits the number of times your lender can contact you to 3 times in any calendar month, unless you have given prior informed consent to your lender contacting you. This includes contacts by phone, e mail, text, and letter or by calling to your home and includes missed calls or where messages are left for you.

 

Stage Two      Complete a Standard Financial Statement (“SFS”)

Your lender will request you to complete a Standard Financial Statement (SFS) on your current income, expenses and liabilities prior to making its decision on whether to offer you an alternative repayment arrangement. The function of this document is to gather all your financial information to assist the lender assess your financial situation. It is important that you cooperate with all requests for documentation as if you do not, you could be classified as not cooperating and a 12 month waiting period (moratorium) for commencing legal action for repossession of the property will no longer apply to you. (Please refer below to paragraph on repossession).

Stage Three     Assessment of your financial situation

Your completed SFS will be assessed by the Arrears Support Unit (ASU) who will determine whether or not to offer you an alternative repayment arrangement. Lenders will usually consider your personal circumstances, your personal debt, information you provided in the SFS, your ability to make repayments, your previous repayment history and other relevant information.

Step Four       Seeking a resolution

After assessing your situation, your lender will determine whether your mortgage should be re-scheduled and what alternative repayment arrangement is appropriate. Where you are offered an alternative repayment arrangement your lender must give you a clear explanation of the proposed arrangement and any implications for you.

 

Alternative repayment arrangements that your lender may consider include:

  1. Interest-only arrangement for a set period of time – the balance of the outstanding capital amount would remain unchanged for the interest-only period.
  2. Extending the mortgage term – your monthly repayments will be lower, however, you will be subject to more interest as the mortgage will be payable over a longer period of time.
  3. Capitalising the arrears and interest – you are experiencing difficulties in paying off the arrears, the lender may agree to collect them over the balance of the mortgage term.
  4. Voluntary scheme your lender has signed up to if, for example, your lender has signed up to a Deferred Interest Scheme, your lender may consider allowing you to defer paying up to 34% of the interest on your mortgage for a period of time. However, you must pay what you can afford and there is no additional interest charged on this unpaid interest during the set period.

It is important to note that interest will accrue on any arrears you owe but your lender cannot charge you additional interest just because you are in arrears.

In practice most lenders agree an alternative arrangement if you cooperate with them. However, your lender is not obliged to offer you such alternative repayment arrangements. If your lender refuses to offer you such an arrangement, the reasons for refusing to do so must be given to you in writing together with your right to appeal to the lenders Appeal Board and your lender must discuss other options with you including, for example:

  • Voluntary Surrender – this would mean that you agree with your lender that they can take full legal ownership of the property. However, you will remain liable for any amounts that you owe to your lender and which they do not recover from the sale of the property.
  • Trading Down – this would mean selling your property and buying a cheaper one which would result in more affordable monthly mortgage repayments. You need to be sure that that you have sufficient funds from the sale to buy another property, after paying off the current mortgage and taking into account stamp duty, solicitor’s fees, auctioneers fees etc.
  • Voluntary Sale – this means that you will only receive monies in excess to the amount owed to your lender as your lender is entitled to recover the mortgage balance and legitimate charges from the sale.

If, for example, your mortgage is €300,000 and your house is sold for €250,000, you will still owe your lender €50,000.

 

Where an alternative repayment arrangement has not been put in place, or if you do not pay some or all of three mortgage payments, your lender must notify you in writing of the following:

  • Potential for legal proceedings for repossession of the property together with an estimate of the costs to you of such proceedings;
  • Importance of taking independent advice;
  • Regardless of how the property is reposed and disposed of, that you will remain liable for the outstanding debt, including accrued interest, charges, legals and other related costs, where applicable.

Remember, if you do not enter the arrangement offered and if you do appeal your lender’s decision, the time taken by your lender’s Appeals Board to consider your appeal is not included in the 12-month waiting period. However, if you decide not to appeal the 12-month waiting period on the lender taking legal action against you no longer applies.

Step Five        Appealing a decision

Your lender will have an internal Appeals Board where you can appeal on any of the following grounds:

  • Your lenders’ decision on your case; and/or
  • How your lender treated you under the MARP process; and/or
  • Whether you feel your lender has not complied with any of the requirements under the Code.

You will have 20 business days following the lender’s decision to submit an appeal to your lender’s Appeals Board.  If you are unhappy with the outcome of the appeal you can make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman, however, you must exhaust your lenders complaints process first.

 

Repossession

Lenders can repossess homes after exhausting every way possible to solve the problem. Repossessions are not altogether common, for example, there are around 800,000 mortgages in Ireland and in 2010 only 300 homes were repossessed by court order. Your lender cannot apply to the courts to commence legal action for repossession of your property until every reasonable effort has been made to agree an alternative arrangement with you. Where you are co-operating with your lender, the lender must wait at least 12 months from the date you are classified by your lender as being under MARP (i.e. day 31 from when arrears first arose), before applying to the courts to start legal action for repossession.

 

Important points to be aware of

  1. Cooperate with your lender in relation to your mortgage arrears as if you do not you are not protected by the 12 month waiting period under MARP before your lender can commence legal action for repossession of your primary residence.
  2. Your lender cannot contact you more than 3 times per month in relation to your mortgage payments unless you have given your lender prior permission.
  3. If you agree an alternative repayment arrangement with your lender and continue to meet that alternative arrangement, your lender cannot start legal proceedings against you and your lender cannot impose any charges on your mortgage account relating to your arrears.
  4. Your lender cannot move you from an existing tracker mortgage to another mortgage type as part of an alternative arrangement offered to you or just because you are in arrears.
  5. Your lender can only consider repossession after they have considered carefully every other way of solving your problem and have made every reasonable effort to agree an alternative repayment arrangement with you.
  6. If your property is repossessed and the proceeds of the sale do not redeem the mortgage in full, you will remain liable for any outstanding debt, including any accrued interest, charges, legal, selling and other related costs if this is the case.
  7. Your credit rating may be affected if you have an overdue balance on your mortgage account or if your home has been repossessed.

Useful contacts:

 

Regards,

Joan Bourke

Joan is Legal and Compliance Officer at Quintas Wealth Management

 

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

 

EU Summit – Will Ireland finally get to unlock its bank debt?

July 5, 2012

At last Friday’s summit the European Union made its strongest statement to date on its level of commitment and tools it would employ to provide support for ailing Sovereign states (i.e. individual countries) and undercapitalised banks.

After months of procrastination the move exceeded market expectations.  It set out provisions for the direct recapitalisation of the banking sector in the clearest signal yet that Europe will provide support for the ailing European banking system directly without leaving the entire burden onto the Sovereign.  This is important as it represents the first steps disentangling the finances of banks from the countries that they are domiciled in.

It also highlights the realisation that the European banking system is indeed just that – a European wide system that crosses borders and acknowledges that when events such as the current crisis occurs it is simply not reconcilable to the Union’s founding principles to allow Sovereign states to pick up the bill for a European wide system failure.  Improved and centralised regulation of the banking system will now follow and this should lead to improved integration of Central Banks and a clearer definition of the balances and checks needed to avoid future crisis.

The inclusion in the official statement that the Irish bank programme was to be “examined” was a genuine surprise and represented an unconditional positive for Ireland.  The statement delivered a clear signal of intent that they were to examine how to “improve” on an already “well-performing” Irish adjustment program.  This is a significant movement from the previous intransigence of Europe on any concept of burden sharing and as the details are worked out it will lead to a reduction of the Sovereign (and taxpayer) burden.  It effectively means that the government could now reopen negotiations on the levels of debt held by the Irish banking system.  This could lead to a significant reduction in the debt burden and interest payments.

The catalyst for this move was not some sudden benevolence on the part of Europe. Rather it was the spectre of Spanish banks failing and the gradual understanding that tying Sovereign and Bank debt together within a monetary union was simply unworkable and medium to long term it was un-financeable.  Whatever the cause it represents a watershed for Ireland. The overwhelming burden of bank debt on the public finances (and the public psyche) has been a millstone around this country’s effort to readjust and eventually extract itself from an economic recession.  Any move that helps lift that burden is a positive.

One of the key benefits apart from the immediate savings for the state will be the potential to return to access market funding.  Markets shunned many European Sovereigns such as Ireland and Spain, not only out of concern on their banking debt but also out of concern that in the event of a European bailout the seniority (i.e. who gets paid first in the case of a default) of money provided by Europe would mean that private investors who lend to these countries were effectively taking the risk that they would not get paid as Europe would have first call on monies owed.  The move by officials last week included provision to relegate the seniority of European loans.  This was a small part of the statement but in time could be a key move to allow Ireland and other distressed Sovereign states to return to markets.

The devil of course will be in the detail and let’s hope our negotiation team can work out the best deal for Ireland.  With on-going issues in Spain and Italy and the clearest statement of intent yet from European leaders they will be in the strongest position since the crisis first broke in 2008

Regards,

David O’Shea

David is Investment Director at Quintas Wealth Management

This article was featured in our recent – Quintas Quarterly Newsletter – Summer 2012

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

The Stability Treaty – why we need to Vote Yes

May 30, 2012

I have been working as an Accountant, predominantly in the SME Sector for the past 15 years, where in addition to accounting services, I provide consultancy services for Business Start-Ups, by working closely with businesses on their business planning, systems implementation and on Corporate Restructuring where necessary, particularly in companies who are beginning to grow or are developing a growth strategy.

So it is from my experience as an Accountant working in the SME Sector, and also as a mother of three young children, that I have formed the view that we need to vote YES to this Treaty to ensure that our companies and our children have a future in this country.

There are two main aspects to the Treaty

– the first is the introduction of rules of how governments run their budgets and

– The second is access to the ESM (European Stability Mechanism).

On the first point, as an Accountant, naturally I would say that running balanced budgets and having proper fiscal rules is a good thing. We must live within our means. Every business person knows that you cannot consistently spend more than you bring in and expect the business to survive.  The same logic has to apply to countries.

This Treaty will require Ireland to put in place National Laws to ensure that we manage our budget responsibly. This is so we can gradually reduce our debt and the gap between what the government spends and what the government raises. It basically means that the government will not be allowed to spend more than they can sustainably afford to or to borrow excessively. But importantly, the Treaty also allows for fiscal flexibility, in that the structural deficit rule in the Treaty is measured over the business cycle.

This means that governments will be able to take action to support economic activity during a downturn. This will ensure greater economic stability in the Euro zone and allow us to take back control of our economic future.

From what I am seeing on the ground the biggest issue facing the SME sector is credit. For credit to be made more available we need business confidence. Many of my clients are finding it very difficult to access badly needed funds simply to keep profitable businesses going. There are others who are actually doing well but cannot access funds to expand or to take on the additional staff needed to help grow the business.

At Quintas we believe that we need to ensure that these companies can get the investment funding they need to survive and help grow us out of this recession. And to get investment we need business confidence.

Ireland is a small open economy dependant on inward investment and exports. The Treaty is key to stabilising the Euro currency. Job creators need currency stability to do their business, invest and create jobs. They need to be confident in our commitment and support.  Adoption of the stability treaty is the only way to provide both the confidence to invest and certainty that will maintain our access to competitive investment capital.

This brings me on to the second aspect of the treaty i.e. the ESM funding that this Treaty will give us access to. Ireland is spending way beyond its means and needs to borrow to make up the shortfall. This year alone we will spend €14 billion more than we will raise in Taxes. Indeed, over the next five years we will need to raise €53 billion just to keep the country running and pay our day to day expenses. We cannot borrow on the markets because our credit rating is seriously damaged. This funding requirement is separate to the amounts we have borrowed from the Troika to bail out out our financial institutions. 

We lost market credibility and this is why we have had to be bailed out by loans from our EU partners and the IMF. The current “bail-out” programme we are in will finish in 2013. While we hope and expect, on the back of concerted Government action, credibility to be restored and credit markets to be open to us at that stage, voting YES to the Treaty would mean that Ireland, if ever needed, would have access to the ESM funding to help pay for public services and job creation initiatives. This would provide a safety net against future funding problems and would reassure those companies who wish to invest in Ireland thereby maintaining confidence and economic stability.

Be in no doubt here that Ireland will need to continue to borrow money to keep the country going. As an Accountant I understand clear facts and figures – the fact is we can get access to money at a low-interest rate if we ratify this Treaty.

There is no one who can categorically tell me where in all circumstances we can borrow the money from if we do not vote YES.  A successful return to the markets and the early restoration of Ireland’s economic independence is much more likely if we support the Treaty.

As someone who has worked with small businesses, owned my own business and has recently merged with another company, Quintas, I strongly support a YES vote.

A YES vote will deliver more certainty for our own business plans and for our clients. A YES vote will deliver a positive business environment and more opportunities for my family, my clients, my business, my region and the entire country.

Lastly, I want to make sure that what happened in the last 10 years in this country is never allowed to happen again – ratifying this treaty will ensure that. I urge you all to vote YES.

Regards

Yvonne Barry

Yvonne is a partner at Quintas.

Note: The above article is an extract of a speech given by Yvonne at a breakfast meeting at the Imperial Hotel Cork on the 25th May 2012.

 

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.