Walker Love Payments Distributors joined the DAS Payment Distributions Panel in July 2015. Charles Mitchell speaks about their experiences so far. This article first appeared in Winter edition 2015-16 of DAS Digest published by the Accountant in Bankruptcy.
Who are Walker Love Payments Distributors?
The team consists of two people, myself and Gillian Johnstone. I manage the team and Gillian is dealing with the day-to-day support functions. We are backed by the Walker Love Group, which is a firm of messenger-at-arms and sheriff officers with offices throughout Scotland.
I’m an accountant for the group and alongside the finance director, I oversee a finance team of eight staff. As we only have a small portion of the payments distributor work, I continue to work both roles, having been with the Walker Love group for 10 years.
Gillian is the credit controller for the organisation. She continues in this role parallel to the day-to-day administration of the payments distributor cases and has been with the Walker Love group for five years.
How are you finding being a member of the DAS payments distribution panel?
This is our first venture into the market and it has been exciting to be doing something very different to what we were doing previously. It was good to have been a part of a panel distributors members’ meeting early on, where past and present members were in attendance so we could ask questions of others and gain advice.
The caseloads we receive are what we were expecting. Basically, everything that was put down on paper to us at the start has happened. There haven’t been any shocks so far and we’ve had a mixed bag of small and large cases. I would say the hardest aspect being the new kids is learning which process works best to initiate contact, and ultimately receive payment.
We’re constantly learning new things, especially the need to be more proactive in this type of work. Joining the panel is a very positive step for the business and it also gives myself and Gillian the opportunity to gain new skills.
Describe your process as a payments distributor.
Every morning we check for any new cases allocated to us and load these onto the system. We send an initial letter to the customer and follow these up with a phone call. It is very important that the debtor provides a contact telephone number and/or email address in DASH so that we can contact them as soon as possible. We set up payments if all the relevant details have been given and then the process runs itself, with payments coming in and being paid out every month.
If we don’t have all the payment details, we need to contact the money advisers to ask them to get in touch with their client. We are learning the best timescales and ways to do this and are tweaking the process all the time. We’ve found the earlier we contact creditors, the better to get account details set up in time for payments.
Most money advisers are helpful and customers are a split between keen to get their plan paid and those who aren’t as enthusiastic and take a bit more time and coaxing to engage with us.
How do you deal with those who are reluctant to engage and not making payments?
We have an agreed process in place: the initial letter is sent to the customer, a follow up phone call is made to introduce ourselves and hopefully this resolves the issue. If no contact is made within the first 10 days, we then get in contact with the money adviser assigned to the customer and this seems to have a positive impact.
However, if this is not successful, then there isn’t much more we can do unfortunately and the onus is back on the debtor. We have yet to have a case revoked due to non-payment.
How are you finding using the DASH system and the DAS process?
We’ve found DASH very user-friendly and it didn’t take long to learn at once we learned not to double click, or you get kicked out! Our dealings with AiB and the DAS team have been great and they are always available to contact and willing to help with any questions we have. We hope to build on our role as a DAS payments distributor in the future as we have sought to get into this line of work for some time to diversify the work we do. DAS is a great initiative and we are fully behind the scheme.
Do you have any hints, tips or advice for others on the panel?
As the new kids, it would be extremely misguided – even arrogant – to hand out advice at this early stage, but I would say to anyone in our position – find yourself a Gillian Johnstone as she’s incredibly organised and keeps us moving along nicely!