With a rich cultural heritage from Jamaican-born grandparents and a Jamaican-raised mother, Trina Powell considers herself to be an extremely fortunate Canadian. Born in Toronto, with enough time spent in Quebec to make her fluently bilingual, she is understandably proud of her family and the community traditions that were instilled in her.
Powell credits that upbringing with her desire to help people:
“As I was growing up, I watched how my Mom and grandparents were always willing to help others – and I knew that was how I wanted to be too.”
Rather than social work or medicine –Powell choose a different way to help. After graduating from college with a diploma in Legal Administration, she began working in a bankruptcy trustee’s office.
Eventually, she joined David Sklar & Associates, Inc., Trustee in Bankruptcy, where she was encouraged to earn her Certified Insolvency Counsellor designation. This government-recognized certification can only be earned through the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) and requires, in addition to academic courses, 100 hours of credit counselling.
Although bankruptcy is a serious issue, Powell does not feel that her work is depressing.
“When people come to us they have already been through the hard part – the collection agents, the fear, the loss of control and, worst of all, the sense of failure. We are able to help them get out of debt and get on with their lives with dignity, and hope.
“For me, one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process is helping people develop the tools and skills they need to stay out of debt and build a brighter financial future for their families.”
Powell says that bankruptcy trustees are able to offer more than just bankruptcy. Many people are now choosing to go with a consumer proposal. Like bankruptcies, consumer proposals are legally binding and only available through bankruptcy trustees. Unlike bankruptcies, consumer proposals enable people to keep their assets and pay back a portion of their outstanding debts to their creditors over a period of up to five years.
“Whether people go with a bankruptcy or a proposal, once they have filed, their unsecured creditors have to stop all collection efforts,” said Powell. “Just being able to answer their phone without worrying or screening calls is a huge relief for many people.”
While the attitude towards bankruptcy has changed over the years, there is still a lot of misinformation and fear around the issue. That is why Powell believes it is important that people who are in financial distress have access to the information they need from licensed professionals.
She is pleased that in the Toronto area, David Sklar & Associates offers a free confidential consultation, where an individual’s financial situation is reviewed in detail, and all possible solutions are discussed.
As a mother of two, she knows how hard it can be to manage family finances. Powell and her partner work hard to keep their own finances in order and to teach their children how to manage money.
“It is never too early, or too late, to teach someone good money management,” said Powell.
For people who file bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, an important part of their responsibilities is attending two credit counselling sessions. As a Certified Insolvency Counsellor, Powell is able to customize these sessions to meet the needs of each individual.
Her clients discover that they can live without credit cards; that they can budget and control their money; and that they can have a brighter, more secure financial future for themselves and their families.
Powell says in many cases, more than finances are mended when people seek financial help. As couples stop playing the blame game and begin to work together to solve their money problems, they frequently look up and rediscover the person they fell in love with. As single people rebuild their financial lives, they usually begin to build a better self-image as well.
She advises people who have debt problems to seek help as soon as possible.
“Get professional help as soon as you realize you cannot get out of debt on your own. If you put it off too long, not only will it be more stressful, you might not have the option of filing for a consumer proposal when you finally do see a trustee.”
David Sklar & Associates, Inc., Trustee in Bankruptcy (416-498-9200), was founded by South African emigrant David Sklar, C.A., CIRP in 1997 and is one of the leading filers of bankruptcy and consumer proposals in the Toronto area.