Ireland’s banking system has become a major talking point in recent years, and for all the wrong reasons. Tales of mortgage arrears, repossessions, tough-talking bank officials and personal debt are commonplace but, spotting an opportunity to help people, one former banker has now put himself on the citizen’s side.
“I have 42 years banking experience,” Rochestown man Peter O’Donoghue told Cork Biz, explaining that he set up his company, Financial Resolutions, in an effort to help both individuals and businesses engage with their bank and develop an agreed approach to any outstanding debt.
“If your marriage is in trouble, you go to a marriage counsellor and you try and patch things up from there. Almost as important is the relationship between a bank and its client, particularly in this environment, and I use my experience and knowledge of how banks work to let institutions know what their customers will be able to do and what they won’t.
“In a way I put my arm around the client, who is usually psychologically bamboozled by the stage they contact me - they dread the post, they dread going to work. I prepare a fresh business plan and talk to their bank in order to get the best possible deal. Banks have the option of appointing a receiver and incurring that expense or they can agree to see a certain amount of the debt frozen or written off, for example, or accept smaller repayments.”
The firm’s clients range from business people worth €10 million to individuals who are - in effect - worth very little. As someone who worked in the financial industry for decades, Peter acknowledges that it can be very difficult for customers to face up to the reality of their situation and find a way to move forward.
“Banks are actually sending me business because some of their clients are too traumatised to deal with their issues in a rational fashion. I put myself between the bank and the client and he or she can then get their business and life back together. I have 42 years experience of being on the other side of the counter and you have to be able to talk to these guys in their own language.