Saturday, 14 May 2011

Heritable Heroes

As I sit writing in the comfortable warmth of my kitchen while listening to a Beatles CD, I have one eye on my twelve year old daughter who is dancing with gleeful abandon while singing along enthusiastically.  Always delighted to see evidence of how untouched my children are by our ongoing financial traumas, I find myself further smiling at the start of Paperback Writer as I am reminded of a recent conversation with my business mortgage manager in which his words of encouragement were, on this occasion, about my writing abilities.

Aware of the saying that kindness can never be wasted, I had never ever envisaged I would be using a bank as an example of the extent of this human kindness. After all, I like so many others within the financial services industry believed it common knowledge a bank has no heart. However, having used the past forty one blogging opportunities to slate the majority of the banking community, I thought it timely to share the experience I have had at the hands of my business bank Heritable who have, in all their dealings with me, been all heart.

After the “Grand Opening” on 1 October 2008 I was forced by circumstance, over the space of little more than an hour, to redefine my role as contented middle class, stay-at-home housewife and mother, to become not only a "One a Woman Debt fighting machine", but a management consultant for a deficit of a million pounds and a "Bank Battler" extraordinaire. My sixty minutes of letter opening had revealed that, as well as a large house with more than two hundred thousand pounds of negative equity and four hundred and forty six thousand pounds of credit card debt, our property development company, which enjoyed limited liability negated by directors guarantees, had two half built assets of dubious value. Unbeknown to me and at the very same as I was licking my wounds on the discovery of my own impossible financial situation in the comfort of my soon to be repossessed sixteenth century home, our business bankers Heritable, were doing precisely the same thing in their London offices with the help of their Administrators.
Now, nearly two and a half years on, and in complete contrast to the actions of the Bank of Scotland, Heritable Bank have done everything within their power to help me make something of our company’s business assets. Sadly, the flaunting of planning regulations on my husband’s part  combined with a recession fuelled fall in property prices dictated circumstances were against us from the outset. In spite of both my and the banks combined efforts, our company, and by default my husband and I, have been left with yet another substantial debt. Two hundred and nine thousand pounds remains outstanding after the disposal of our business properties and this time it is Heritable Bank holding the ticket and not, as is the case with the forced sale on our main residence, HBOS .
Now the "assets of dubious value” have been sold, Heritable Bank, have elected to implement a pragmatic solution to our shortfall. Without prompting I was contacted and advised it is their intention to write off this debt on compassionate grounds and in so doing, Heritable have allowed me to preserve my dignity, in all my dealings with them, right through to the very end. In complete contrast HBOS, have seen fit to defend their right to hound me mercilessly from outset for a £217,000 shortfall their actions created and, but for the automatic amnesty status of any compliant under investigation by the Financial Ombudsman's Service's investigation, I have little doubt HBOS would be continuing to persecute me with monotonous regularity to date.

Quaker missionary Stephan Grellet once said, "I expect to pass through this world only once, therefore any good thing I can do, any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now: let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again." I have experienced nothing but kindness and compassion at the hands of Heritable Bank and I know, in my heart of hearts, the reason for this comes down to just one man. I believe it was he who elected, unlike HBOS, to take a leaf out of Grellet's book and act with compassion, empathy and understanding throughout.
For this simple act of kindness and for continuing to follow and encourage my blog, he is most definitely my Heritable Hero.

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