There have been so many twists and turns in Bev Budsworth’s life on the path to her becoming an award-winning businesswoman specialising in the debt sector.
Among the many formative experiences was the period she spent working as a croupier at a casino in Sun City, in South Africa.
Bev recalls that it was an incredibly glamorous time in her life . . . as well as being when she first realised what a profound effect debt can have.
She recalls: ”I clearly remember seeing people coming in, sitting down at your table and losing everything. It was a tough thing to do. I would think to myself and occasionally say to the casino’s customers ‘take a break’. But they invariably didn’t.
When people are parted from their money, they invariably go through many different emotions and it is not always nice to see those unfold in front of you.
Although Bev might not have realised it at the time, her experiences in the casino were to influence her subsequent career. Born and initially raised in Northern Rhodesia which is now Zambia her family moved to South Africa when she was still small. She says that her father ‘did well’ on the copper belt and her own up-bringing was ‘comfortable’ on a smallholding in the countryside. But a craving for bright lights and adventure drove her first to Sun City and then to England.
Bev says: ”I was in my early twenties and had met an Englishman and we decided that it was the right time to move to the north west. I’d always done well at school but had decided not to go on to university. And I was lucky enough to get a break when I arrived in Greater Manchester working for Spicer and Pegler a national firm of chartered accountants which is now known as Deloitte.
One of the managers there was from South Africa and he said that there was a vacancy in the insolvency department. I clearly remember the first few weeks there it was as if I’d been transported to another planet where everyone was talking a different language. But it was also a fantastic experience as I was thrown in at the deep end and I found myself working, within three weeks, on receiverships and much more.
Despite the fact that I didn’t have a degree, the partners soon realised that I was incredibly tenacious and that kept opening doors for me. I also think that the Deloitte business ethos rubbed off on me and that has stood me in very good stead ever since.
After 17 years with Deloitte, Bev decided in 2000 that the time was right to branch out and establish her own company The Debt Advisor in response to a noticeable gap in the market for a service which offered comprehensive advice on all debt issues. Since then, she has been equally tenacious in her crusade to promote an innovative approach to personal insolvency while continually promoting and aiding the rescue process.
Since 2000, her company has grown organically from a turnover of £124,000 to £1.3m and from just two staff to 26. It specialises in individual voluntary arrangements for salaried or self-employed people, as well as solutions for insolvent businesses and debt management plans. She says she is dedicated to her clients and helping them through the rescue process at every step. She has also used her position to call on the industry to adopt a more transparent and ethical approach to customers.
Further intent on shaping the industry, she accepted an invitation from the chief executive of the Insolvency Practitioners Association earlier this year to join the Personal Insolvency Committee. The committee was set up to offer advice to the industry and was keen to harness Bev’s innovative and creative approach, describing her as a ‘lead thinker’ within the industry.
More recently, she has become a stakeholder of the Ministry of Justice’s work to consider the degree of regulation required in the debt management industry. Using her connections with the Personal Insolvency Committee and the Debt Resolution Forum, she will be helping to co-ordinate a consultation process to put forward an industry view on the government’s statutory debt management scheme.
Bev adds: ”There’s nothing more debilitating than death, divorce and debt.
People come to me and say that they want to get their self-respect back and the whole purpose of The Debt Advisor is to help people visualise where they want to get to. There has been a boost to trade of around 30% over the past couple of years on the back of the economic conditions. The debt sector has had a bad press but I genuinely believe IVAs present a win-win scenario. From the creditor’s perspective, it’s a chance to recover some money and from the debtor’s perspective, it’s a chance to get their life back on track. And from my perspective, it’s a chance to make a real difference to help people break the debt cycle and live debt-free.”