Are you familiar with the term “Licensed Insolvency Trustee” (LIT)? This new name designates what used to be called a “Trustee in Bankruptcy” or, in French “Syndic de faillite.” The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada (OSB) decided to apply this change, beginning on April 1, 2016. We believe the new designation more accurately reflects the role of LITs following the evolution of the industry. Here are some reasons for this change regarding insolvency.
Why is Ginsberg Gingras happy with the change to the Trustee in Bankruptcy title?
The term “Licensed Insolvency Trustee” is more general and inclusive. Since an LIT’s role is not limited to bankruptcy, our professional title should appropriately reflect the work we do. Additionally, a more neutral title was necessary to distance ourselves from the stigma associated with bankruptcy. The use of a new and more appropriate title is the solution for:
- Countering obstacles to a correct understanding of the role of LITs
- The more effective communication of the solutions we can offer people in debt situations
Licensed Insolvency Trustee, a modern term
The OSB first issued an instruction for trustees in 1993, requiring them to clearly identify themselves as “Trustees in Bankruptcy.” Today, it is clear that this title no longer describes the real value of the services and tasks provided by Licensed Insolvency Trustees. In recent years, the profession has significantly developed to include numerous additional functions relating to insolvency. LITs now offer the following services:
- Consumer proposals
- Commercial or individual bankruptcy
- Proposals for businesses
- Receivership for creditor accounts
- Monitoring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA)
- Budget advice
This new title attests to the wide range of services that trustees can offer to individuals and businesses facing debt problems.
The importance of a more inviting title
For many, the term “bankruptcy” carries a highly pejorative connotation; it is often associated with feelings of guilt, failure, and shame. Consequently, some people categorically refused to consult a Trustee in Bankruptcy, regardless of the state of their finances. However, as insolvency specialists, we can propose a number of solutions to escape indebtedness. In many cases, bankruptcy can even be avoided altogether.
Because of this negative connotation, some people decided to turn to other resources with less menacing titles, such as credit advisers. In some cases, people are unwittingly exposed to greater financial risk. We hope that the “Licensed Insolvency Trustee” title will also contribute to the protection of the public. Thanks to a less threatening title, the perceptions of people dealing with LITs will become more positive. This may prevent some people from confiding their debt problems to organizations that are not really capable of helping them.
In fact, many counsellors in the field of insolvency do not hold a licence that confers legitimacy to practise such a profession. Their practice is not regulated by the OSB, and they are free to adopt a title of their choice: “budget counsellor”, “credit counsellor”, “financial coach”, “debt settlement company”, and so on. Anyone can therefore claim to be an insolvency specialist. However, none of them have the qualifications of Licensed Insolvency Trustees.
Certainly, many of those offering budget counselling services are honest and acting in good faith. Notably, some legitimate organizations exist, including the ACEF in Quebec and members of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services. However, others sometimes provide inappropriate services to honest citizens that are inadequate to solve their financial problems. Worse, they generally demand exorbitant fees and their solutions fail to protect their clients from:
- Accumulation of interest charges
- Harassment by collection agencies
- Wage garnishments
Grappling with ineffective solutions and having spent additional sums of money, many clients are forced to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. It is only then that they discover solutions adapted for their unique financial situation. Unfortunately, we note that their personal finance situation is often worse than it was to begin with.
Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only licensed and regulated insolvency professionals.
The Licensed Insolvency Trustee, an officer of the court
The new directive from the OSB officially came into force on April 1, 2016. All Licensed Insolvency Trustees must conform to it going forward. As LITs, we hope that this change will improve comprehension of our profession and, above all, enable us to help those who require our services.
Keep in mind that Licensed Insolvency Trustees remain officers of the court who seek a solution that serves the common interests of debtors and creditors. On one side, we help troubled debtors resolve their debt problems. On the other, we ensure that creditors are treated fairly and in conformity with the provisions of the BIA. As officers of the court, we also ensure that the rights of all parties are respected.
A transition period for Licensed Insolvency Trustees
The term Trustee in Bankruptcy will begin to disappear, but this change will be gradual. Although we must now identify ourselves as LITs, the OSB has granted a grace period to allow us to make the necessary changes to our advertising material. Therefore, until April 1, 2017, you may continue to see the term “Trustee in Bankruptcy” on material such as pamphlets or business cards, until our inventory is depleted.
We hope our new title will improve comprehension of the role of Licensed Insolvency Trustees. Of course, the quality of our services, our role, and our responsibilities remain unchanged.
From now on, if you experience financial difficulties, remember that your strongest ally is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Moreover, the first consultation with a Ginsberg Gingras LIT is free and without obligation on your part.