Draft The Age Friday, February 23 2018 Thinking About Bankruptcy? When to zig, how to zag in business

 

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February 23, 2018

Melbourne’s Doug Constable describes himself as an ‘‘insolvency expert’’. He has faced his share of business difficulties and uses his background to help others navigate the difficult and stressful world of bankruptcy and debt management.

Mr Constable is the author of the book What To Do When You Can’t Pay Your Debts, and has decades of lived experience around knowing when to zig and how to zag in business.

As a consequence of bad business decisions, he has defaulted on debts, been through the bankruptcy courts several
times and was convicted of obtaining financial advantage by deception in 1997.

In 2013, he was denied a cafe liquor licence by Victorian authorities due to his prior convictions.

“I have certainly been through the business wringer but have come out the other side and believe I am uniquely placed to assist people facing issues of debt management and bankruptcy because of those experiences,’’ he says.

‘‘I don’t shy away from my past, it is what it is and I have had to face up to it, but at least I can channel those past indiscretions into assisting others.”

Bankruptcy law is complex. Most business owners don’t want to have to consider insolvency and liquidation –
certainly not before knowing the answers to a host of questions.

An accountant or solicitor who specialises in insolvency, liquidation and bankruptcy is one source of advice.

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has an informative website for those considering bankruptcy.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has useful advice on its site for business owners,
creditors and consumers. ASIC’s advice for directors about the consequences of insolvent trading is equally comprehensive.

Constable says he is ‘‘passionate about helping people draw a line in the sand in times of financial distress’’, helping ailing businesses deal with creditors and avoiding bankruptcy if possible.

His company, Doug Constable Group, offers advice to entrepreneurs struggling to keep their businesses afloat; ‘‘business health checks’’ for companies in trouble; trustee and liquidator assistance, and of course, bankruptcy advice. “No individual works hard for his family to end up bankrupt. But things change, the economy fluctuates, a new government, a GFC, an insolvent debtor, a family tragedy, divorce, increase in taxes, unexpected debts, medical expenses and so many of life’s unexpected events could change everything,” he says.

“Often people prolong the inevitable because of embarrassment and a sense of shame.”

‘Sometimes it is better to draw a line in the sand and stop being harassed.’

-Doug Constable

He says clients need to remember that being in financial difficulty does not automatically make you a bad person.

‘‘While the first thing to do is avoid bankruptcy if you can, there comes a time when you need to sit back and look at the cost to yourselves and your families, both financially and emotionally.

‘‘Financially, do you have the capacity to repay the debt within a reasonable time?

‘‘Emotionally, are you willing to have the stress of struggling to make ends meet and continue to receive the calls pressing you for payment?

‘‘Sometimes it is better to draw a line in the sand and stop being harassed.

‘‘Options are available to those in financial difficulty that they may have not been aware of. ’’

 

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